“Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people.” – STEPHEN R. COVEY
We know it is imperative for any company to have a large and loyal customer base contributing to the company’s bottom line in several ways. However, to ensure such a customer base, a company must have a strong and dedicated workforce – since it is through employees that a company would serve its customers. It is the responsibility of the leaders to ensure high employee morale, and by building a culture of trust and motivation with its employees, a company can be sure to build a strong base of happy and loyal customers. A company must be committed to open communication – where every employee must have the right to speak their mind and share their opinions without fear of ridicule or retribution. This may sound obvious and even easy. However, several companies still struggle with allowing open dialogue and as a result end up with an unmotivated and disgruntled workforce, incapable of serving customers well and courteously.
For building a culture of trust and motivation, it is imperative to have open dialogue even if there were disagreements. In fact, working around and sorting out disagreements is critical to enhance workforce cohesion, leading to a healthy work culture and high employee morale. Irrespective of the structure, business, and age of a company, building a culture of trust and motivation should remain among the topmost priorities. A healthy and strong company would be able to withstand market upheavals, competitor ‘attacks’, and other changes – that would otherwise shake a company’s foundation. Of course, achieving and sustaining a culture of trust and motivation is no mean task and requires concerted effort, commitment, and willingness to divert resources. Building a culture of trust and motivation will not happen overnight, and will not sustain itself – every person in the company must understand their role in this endeavour.
In today’s fast growing business world, companies are so busy with trouncing competition, gaining increased profits, and attracting more customers that they forget to treat their own ‘people’ fairly. Their employees feel neglected, unconfident, and as failures, leading to lowered productivity, shoddy work output, discourteous service to external customers, and conflicts with their co-workers. However, the complete opposite is true in companies focused on building a culture of trust and motivation. Employees love their company and work, are amenable to cooperating with their peers, and sincerely motivated to make customers, themselves, and their company successful. Stress and conflicts are replaced by joy, enthusiasm, and everyday seems like a celebration. The leaders of such companies would have obviously grasped the importance of building a culture of trust and motivation, and know exactly how to do so.
Employees that work in companies which encourage open communication, understand that their opinion and ‘voice’ matter, and that it would be acceptable even if they disagree with their supervisors and colleagues. Employees would understand their importance as a person and an individual, and that their particular role has its uniqueness and importance. The exceptional experience and knowledge that each employee brings, helps to resolve problems faster, and view aspects in varying ways, providing a new perspective. The leaders of the company too, must understand the influence and power they have to create an environment where each person feels important, and would be certain that their opinion counts. It is the job of leadership to listen and accept views different from their own, which in turn lends confidence in the employees, leading to a sense of belongingness and loyalty. A focus on building a culture of trust and motivation is about addressing problems through consent, finding ways to give everyone a ‘voice’, and encouraging each person to be vigilant and aware, which would proactively prevent problems within and for the company.
While it is important for a company to listen to its employees, this alone does not suffice. To sustain a culture of trust and motivation, it would be important to appreciate, recognize, and reward the efforts and successes of employees. Employees that consistently demonstrate and apply the values of the company must receive due and formal recognition. Many companies ask employees to nominate their co-workers for different categories and things they do to make the workplace better. Being nominated by the peer group and the same reaffirmed by the leaders of the company shows everyone that their achievements are important, and that their contribution and role is extremely critical to the success of a company. When everyone feels appreciated, sustaining a culture of trust and motivation becomes a lot easier.
A highly robust and workable method of building a culture of trust and motivation is by encouraging employee participation in all activities and important ‘traditions’ of the company. Such participation enhances feelings of oneness and cohesion within the company, which is extremely important to reduce stress and conflicts, and keep each employee happy enough to serve the company’s customers well, and make honest contributions to their work. When everyone can perceive their contributions as being recognized and appreciated, they would be more amenable to work together, make compromises when required, and show care for those they work with. Being polite and amicable is not a sign of weakness – but rather are indispensable ways to increase productivity and cohesion and reduce stress and conflicts.
For encouraging and building a culture of trust and motivation the company’s leaders must remain honest and transparent in all their dealings. This is true of their interactions with each other, all employees, customers, and the public. Such companies are aware of their responsibility in managing and even preventing crisis and inconvenience for those associated with them. The leaders of the company must make appearances at gatherings and events, and be prepared to speak with the media when required. Hiding behind ‘iron doors and stone walls’ indicates that the company has something to hide, which in turn reduces the trust levels of not just customers, but employees as well. It is important for companies to focus on the problems of their customers and employees, what they care about, and what would make them feel happy. It should never only be about the interests of the company – people do not care – they care about what happens to them with relationship to the company.
For building a culture of trust and motivation, a company would need to remain forthright and not give reason to its employees to feel disgruntled and disillusioned. Even if such employees stay with a company, they would probably do more harm than good. Weeding out such employees is not the solution since doing so would create a sense of insecurity, fear, and discontent in the mind of the remaining employees, which ultimately would lead to a demotivated and distrusting workforce. To earn trust and respect, a company and its leaders must take steps to earn it. Motivation and trust are not things that anyone can enforce. A company must give opportunities for these to ‘breed’, and do away with any barriers to their growth.
Each employee has the power to build a culture of trust and motivation, not just for themselves but for their colleagues too. While the leaders of companies can set the tone and ‘ball rolling’ for the establishment of a positive culture, the sustainability of a culture of trust and motivation is possible only through the buy-in and support of the employees. When employees can express their views without fear, they would be more open to respect the ideas of others, and would be willing to support a culture of motivation and trust.