Unlimited vacation? Yes. We trust you to manage your workflow and cover your projects. We also trust that you will manage your time off in a way that makes you happy and doesn’t disadvantage your team.
NCAA Tournament in the office? Yes. We show the games in the office every year and encourage you to watch with your co-workers. We trust that you will still get your job done, and that if there is an emergency, you’ll take care of it.
There is a business purpose behind this culture of trust. Obviously it makes our Fools happy, improves recruiting, and leads to great employee retention and a healthy office environment. I hope that’s pretty obvious.
But the part that many people don’t understand is that trust=speed. Professional trust is very closely related to productivity and output.
Trust in the workplace leads to faster decisions, higher collaboration, and greater autonomy. In a high trust relationship, you focus on the future, and everything moves faster. You can say the wrong thing and still be understood. You can make a mistake and recover quickly – and your team will help you.
In a low trust relationship, the focus is on the past, mistakes are hashed and rehashed, time is wasted choosing the right words, and then reversing them. Your ability to cover yourself overshadows the need to move forward and focus on the future, and your team will blame you.
Trust isn’t just a feel good term, it’s a productivity boon and a competitive advantage.
If you find yourself wordsmithing your emails and agonizing that they will be misconstrued or working under the CYA (Cover You’re A$$) system, you should probably take a step back and first address T-R-U-S-T.
If you are looking at your own corporate culture – reinforcing, rebuilding, reframing – don’t start with fun. Start with trust.