Building Trust. Important…but Different Work.



As popular as the topic of team building, strategic collaborations and comradery feels among the business jargon of the day I can’t help but feel that, as a whole, we are much more in love with the idea of those things than we are with the work required to create such things.

Is it important?  I think so – and apparently consulting and research company “Great Place to Work” thinks so too.  In Fortune Magazine’s recent March 14 issue their research is shared in an article entitled “100 Best Companies to Work For 2017.”  I offer you some snippets of that cover article.

Since 1998, Fortune has been publishing a list of employees’ 100 favorite companies in the country.  The result has been a two-decade tour de force showcasing industry-leading benefits, like Adobe’s six-month paid maternity leave, and mind-bending perks, like Publix’s holiday bonus of up to a month’s wages for supermarket employees.* 

WAIT…what?  Holy cow.  How many companies can do that kind of thing?  I mean – that is great stuff for employees – no doubt.  But for the average, business owning, reader.  Yikes.  That sets the bar pretty high.

But the article continues…

But far more important than any lavish policy or fancy freebie, employees in the organizations on this list say they trust their coworkers and managers.  These companies aren’t just being generous, of course.  Over the years our research and consulting firm, Great Place to Work, and many other scholars have consistently found that the workplaces that score high on metrics of trustworthiness also finish first in profitability, revenue growth, stock performance, and other key business measures.* 


It continues…

“In studying the 100 Best and the nonwinning contender companies for 2017, we found that the more consistent and inclusive an organization is on key factors related to trust, and the more diverse it is demographically, the more likely it is to outperform peers in revenue growth.  Notably, companies that score in the top quartile of success on these metrics enjoy three times the growth of companies in the bottom quartile…”*


Did they just say that building an environment of trust beats six-month maternity leave and one month salary bonus checks?

The short article concludes with this…

“The best work places in today’s climate are organizations where everyone feels heard, fair-ness reigns, social bonds are forged across boundaries like race and class, and people are inspired to reach new heights.”*

Wow.  So if this is true, how much of the work of building trust and trust worthy processes should feel relevant to today’s business owners?  And, just as important (if not more), how much do business owners today have a sense of what is required to create these environments of trust on today’s factory floors or office spaces?

The work of developing people and culture is distinctly different from the work of widget making or service giving.  It requires different tools and different methodologies.  Are they connected?  Yes.  But the work to accomplish trust in a culture does not happen by simply speeding up or slowing down the conveyor belt.

*FORTUNE, March 15, 2017, 100 Best Companies to Work For 2017, Jonathan Calugi, p. 79-80.

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