In this episode, we’re continuing our deep dive into each of the Four Engagement Elevators by taking a ride in elevator number four: Earned Trust. This is the elevator where people mean what they say and live the values they espouse daily, which are reflected in their day-to-day actions.
And when it comes to discussing Earned Trust, it’d be hard to do better than a chat with Allison Delagrange, General Sales Manager at Federated Media.
Allison makes so many amazing points, like:
- Why you should never underestimate the value of communication.
- How keeping a watchful eye on your “company campfire” can go a long way toward fostering and maintaining trust among your employee.
- And, contrary to popular thought, good business IS personal!
In the Era of “Quiet Quitting, Good Company Culture Is Imperative
“It's no secret that many people are working remotely or some hybrid version of remote work,” Allison says. “So, it's not enough anymore to say, ‘we're going to put a pool table or a fancy coffee machine in the break room’ and check the culture box.”
“So, it's got to be about shared values and those intangibles.”
In Allison’s view, it’s those “shared values” and “intangibles” that go a long way toward providing employees with a sense of purpose and motivation in their role. This can help mitigate some of the “quiet quitting” phenomena that is currently spreading throughout the workforce.
“Nobody wants to talk about Covid anymore, but it did cause people to look face-to-face with mortality and think through things like purpose and having meaning in their work,” Allison says.“And that's also led to this whole idea of ‘quiet quitting,’ people that are still working but taking pride in doing less. Ugh!”
“So now there's this opportunity really for companies that have a well-defined culture to retain employees because they feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves, but also it's a great opportunity for recruitment.”
“Everybody's having trouble finding good people, but if you have a sense of who your company is, people want to be part of that.”
Earned Trust is Born of Transparency and Consistent Communication
“Employees want to hear from top-level leadership,” Allison says. “So, if you are in a position like that, never underestimate the value of your communication. And it doesn't have to just be when there's some major announcement, communicating the big things.”
“Communicate the small things too.”
"Our general manager started doing a weekly update. So, on Fridays, there's an email that goes out that says, ‘here's what's happening.’
“And it's not all, ‘here's who had the biggest sales this week or ‘the major news.’ It's also the smaller things that happen, recognizing employee birthdays or anniversaries and recognizing the smaller teamwork efforts that are happening.”
“So, it's a consistent message that goes out every week, and I think it just makes people feel more connected to leadership.”
Another integral part of establishing earned trust in an organization is leaders who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and jump into the trenches.
“...Also don't underestimate the value of being involved in the grunt work.”
“Earlier this year, we had a major change that required everybody to stop and do a lot of data entry into a new system that we were using. And kudos to my general manager because he said, ‘you know what? We'll all have to roll up our sleeves and do this.’ And he said, ‘Here are the orders that I'm going to put in.’”
“I think that's really powerful. You know, are you going to be a leader that is just sipping your coffee while everybody else is doing the work, or are you going to get involved?”
“That goes a long way with establishing trust just to say that, ‘I'm in this with you, and I'm willing to do the work.’
Are Open Forums a Good Idea?
Citing ENGAGE 2022: The Company Culture Report, Beth points out that 72% of respondents said that they work for a company that provides open forms or town halls where employees ask questions of and can converse with leadership.
Beth asks Allison, “Is that something you would recommend?”
“So, it's a tricky answer,” Allison says. “And I think it depends on a couple of things.”
“One is the people you have and two is the [chosen] topic.”
“I love the analogy that Up Your Culture has about the company campfire. So, if you haven't read it yet, the idea is that there's three different types of engagement.
“There are the people that are engaged, and, if you're at a company campfire, they're the ones that are rubbing sticks together and trying to create a spark, to keep the fire going.”
“Then there are the people that are disengaged, that are kind of just hanging out. They're there for the company campfire, but they're not necessarily contributing.
“And then there are those dangerous people who are actively disengaged. They're taking logs off the fire and putting water on it.
“So, if you look at the people in your company and you're in a spot where you know that you have a lot of those people that are going to pour water on the fire, now it's not a good time for one of these open forum meetings.”
“You got to do recruitment first and get the right people there.”
“The other thing is the topic. If you know that you're going to discuss a topic that you really aren't open for feedback about, you know, ‘this is a decision that's been made, this is the direction we're going, feedback is not welcome,’ then that's not an open forum type of situation.”
Earned Trust Means Business IS Personal
“There's a phrase that we hear a lot that kills me. And it's, ‘it's not personal, it's just business.’”
“Well, when we're talking about culture, we're asking people to be emotionally involved with their work, to care about it, to want to do their best.”
“And so, we're not managing robots here. If we were, this culture conversation wouldn't matter.”
“So, good business is personal, right?”
“It starts with using great tools like the growth guide where you're actually sitting down and having a conversation that's all about that person. ‘Tell me about what you like about your job. Tell me about your goals. Tell me what motivates you.’”
“So, [using tools] like the growth guide [is great], but also just setting clear expectations and giving consistent performance feedback.”
“It's so important to tell people not just what they're doing wrong, but what they're doing right. Because then they can duplicate it.”