A Culture of Trust

Trust is Key

Trust is Key You may have read a lot about Motley Fool corporate culture.  Although it manifests itself in many ways, at the heart of our craziness we are building culture of trust.

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.


What I Learned From Improv

Fools practicing improv

Fools practicing improvAfter only two months of training, I stood before 150 people for my class’ first improv comedy performance. We were far more anxious that anyone in the audience might have noticed, but one thing that helped get me through was the group of Fools who came to see the show (and, admittedly, the nerve-calming margarita they joined me for before I got on stage). Improv is a serious team-building activity, and I learned a lot of lessons I can apply at work.

When fellow Fools took time on a Sunday to support me, I realized a really awesome thing about this company: We’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders!

Fools don’t just care about what our coworkers can do for us during the work day. We’re multi-dimensional people – actors, dancers, artists, writers, athletes, photographers, world travelers, and musicians. We have outlets for expressing ourselves in our free time that make us more creative, more innovative, bolder Fools at work. What’s more, Fools are welcome to share their passions at work, either by teaching a class or leading a club. Fools cheer each other on at marathons, check out each other’s art shows, and rock out at each other’s concerts. They teach each other how to knit or fill out an NCAA March Madness bracket. We always say we’re a learning culture – part of that is teaching new software, or running investing cohorts so Fools can experience the same stock-picking decisions our members make – but another part of that culture is teaching each other about the fun things we love to do in our spare time.

Sadly, a lot of companies have a culture where employees are looked down upon when their lives outside of work spill into the office. At the Fool, we take an interest in our coworkers’ hobbies, families, and friends, and we love to have a great time with lots of laughter. With improv, we got the best of both worlds.