Why should organisations focus on building trust and communication in the workplace? In this article, Geetanjali Wheeler helps us understand this and also how sometimes the answer lies in just going back to basics!
The foundation of a lasting relationship is largely based on trust and transparent communication. In fact, as humans, we recognize the principles of this foundation in our personal relationships. The truth, however, is that many organisations made up of “people” are unable to take it beyond the charter of values and culture they present in boardroom and town halls.
The HR team is then tasked with doing team-building activities through off-sites and fun Fridays! While these are important and appreciated, they alone will not be enough to build the foundation we seek. The ability to innovate, collaborate, demonstrate learning agility and lead change are now in the “must-have” list of competencies.
So, why should organisations focus on building trust and communication in the workplace? To answer this question, we must understand the strong relationship they have with each other.
Communication enables the building of trust and trust enables effective communication. The lack of communication will erode trust and the lack of trust will not result in open communication. Trust is built using building blocks of consistent and genuine communication.
Let us explore some benefits to organisations:
- A workplace that fosters “trust” encourages employees to bring their “whole self” to work. Such organisations will experience ideas, interest and passion from them. It also allows employees to learn from failures and not be afraid of having a constructive conflict. This is essential for teams to collaborate and drive synergy. Higher the trust and communication between teams, the greater is the achievement orientation
- Organisations that lack trust and open communication witness the curious case of what I call as “hard-working ants”. These are people who work to the best of their abilities, are known for their quality of work, are motivated intrinsically and are not the “noise makers” to get what they want. They carry the burden for so long that one day they just part ways leaving the management clueless about why their retention efforts did not work!
An organisation where people enjoy a healthy environment is not only attractive for talent but also for retention. Many reports have confirmed that 75% of the workforce by 2025 will be Gen Y and we also have Gen Z entering the workforce. Let’s explore what is typical about such workforce that foundationally requires trust and communication:
- They want to work for organisations that they can relate with in terms of sense of purpose
- They enjoy teamwork and collaboration
- They expect continuous feedback from their Managers
- They want to feel empowered and want to make a difference
The “Agile” way of working requires a high degree of collaboration and commitment by members of the project. The team needs to trust each other on the deliverables. Their daily stand-up meetings updating the progress, the plan for the day, bottlenecks and support needed indicates the degree to which they communicate! Most of the people from such teams that I have interacted with have accounted for their success or learnings to this discipline.
So, what are some actions that organisations can take to build trust and communication in the workplace?
- Define what does trust and communication mean in terms of behaviours and measures. Internalise them with every employee in the organisation
- Make it a part of the culture, by enabling every layer in the organisation to adopt it as a “way of life”. The employees in an organisation like this are more likely to exhibit “Organisational Citizenship Behaviour”
- We must acknowledge & recognise the demonstration of “right” behaviours. We must celebrate the success of our measures and learn from the failures
- The leaders must “walk the talk” and must be held accountable for it. They are responsible to not just create but sustain a culture nurtured by the trust.
- Communicate the organisation’s purpose & vision, strategy, performance etc. and keep the momentum on even when the times are hard and uncertain! The employees show value and respect when leaders maintain true communication in tough times and that raises the bar of trust!
- The internal comms plan needs to be as important as the external comms agenda. It should be continually reviewed and course-corrected
The building of trust with open and transparent communication is a mammoth task and defines the character of the organisation. This is why it’s not enough to just focus on “What to do?”… We also need to know “What not to do?” because it takes no time for trust to be broken or communication to fail!
Sometimes the answer lies in just going back to basics!