How to Inspire Employee Trust

TrustPerhaps the single most important cornerstone for any organization is trust — between partners, employees, and teams. It runs through every layer of business, from the CEO to the customer.

In a recent Inc.com post, contributor Laura Garnett interviewed Lee Burgage, chief people officer at the Motley Fool. Burgage shared his perspectives on how the company has created an environment that creates a loyal workforce.

Building a Culture of Trust

For Burbage, the key to building a company culture that values and encourages trust between leaders and employees is modeling the type of behavior you expect.

“Our employees make their own schedules. They decide when they take vacation. It’s also in the acts we do. 2008 was a lean year. We told employees: We have to cut costs. Layoffs are off the table, but everything else is on the table.”

Cultivating the Right Talent

Burbage believes strongly that people should get promoted after their first year, but works closely to measure every hire on a grid of performance versus potential.

“I look at every person as a long-term project. I have 290 projects and they are all live. We take notes on individuals when we’re in meetings. Being able to present the data helps other to make decisions on promotion and movement.”

Trust in the organization often comes down to being confident in the abilities of the people working inside the four walls.

Impacting Employee Lives

According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker stays at a job for just under four-and-a-half years. The Motley Fool is proud of the fact they have very low turnover.

Burbage adds, “We believe strongly that this is the last job that anyone is going to have. It’s freeing when you think in terms of a long term. Autonomy is also huge for us. We have no vacation policy — we have done that for 20 years. It’s kind of ridiculous that companies trust people with millions of dollars but not their vacation.”

Trust doesn’t just happen, but organizations that carefully cultivate it through their hiring practices, professional development opportunities, and simply treating their employees as adults will thrive.

Employees who enter into a culture of trust rewards their organizations with loyalty, high levels of productivity, and consistently good work.

How do you encourage trust in your organization?

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