A culture of trust – fantasy or a new reality?
What is it that makes us decide that people are not to be trusted and within the corporate culture sense to behave as though the only way we can protect the business is to assume everyone is untrustworthy.
Does this sound too extreme? In the research conducted by Frederic Laloux and captured in his book Reinventing Organisations, he shares a number of case studies where organisational leaders took a long hard look at the underlying message contained in many of their policies, practices and ways of working. In a nutshell (although he expresses it far more eloquently) Laloux shares with us that these companies recognised that in effect they were saying to their people ‘we don’t trust you’.
We don’t trust you to think, we don’t trust you to make good decisions and we don’t trust you to have the well-being of the business and the customer at heart.
These companies changed their culture visions to express a far more positive mind-set and set about dismantling policies and practices that demonstrated a lack of trust. This has me pondering what if all companies and organisations were to follow suit. What if we were to recognise that in fact the vast majority of people, who come to work, providing they are treated as adults, will behave as adults?
As cultural creatives and futurists, in my work, we like to spend time in the ‘imagine’ space…what if the world of work were like this or like that… and so often it feels like an out of reach fantasy. But surely reengaging with people within the organisation from a place of trust isn’t or shouldn’t be in the bracket of ‘fantasy’? We may need to allow for an increase in in-house ‘education’ or training to support decision making, or need to share more, or practise real openness and provide relevant information (most likely all of these will be needed). But what if we just decided that in fact the people we employ are actually capable of being trusted? Is that really too big a stretch? And what sort of future might that open up?