Do You Trust Your Company in These 19 Ways?
March 1, 2021

Do You Trust Your Company in These 19 Ways?

by Brian de Haaff

Would you call yourself trustworthy? Most of us would say yes. But ask folks if they trust their company and its leaders and you might get a different answer. I think almost all organizations acknowledge that trust matters. But few meaningfully invest in what is required for trust to thrive — a set of core values that ground each decision in a larger purpose and bring the team together.

As an organization, you can experiment and take risks when you are surrounded by people who want to achieve together — trust in that mission is critical for innovation.

It should be no surprise that employees in high-trust organizations enjoy working together. Research suggests they also feel more energetic, engaged, and aligned with their companies' purpose. Collaboration happens more freely, which contributes to a more productive workplace.

If you have ever worked in a fear-based organization, you know how insidious mistrust can be. People are either quick to reach an insincere consensus or things turn toxic when there is a disagreement. You are probably hesitant to propose new ideas. And why should you? You are just going to be shut down.

Now plenty of these companies grow meaningfully. But it comes at a price. Poor communication. Lack of accountability. High turnover. People are complex and there is no elixir to restore trust if you have lost it. And even if you are investing in channels to reach customers directly for innovation efforts, your internal teams will need to shepherd those ideas through and champion them as their own.

Companies have to put people first to perform at their best and achieve sustainable success. This is the hallmark of The Responsive Method, a set of beliefs that guide how the Aha! team works. We are always asking ourselves: What is needed right now? What can we do better? Is there a different way to approach this?

We have the capacity to innovate in accordance with our goals because we have created a culture that encourages transparency, kindness, and critical thought.

When you have an honest dialogue, you are already closer to creating a climate that supports a healthy ideation pipeline. It will look different for every company and leadership team, but here are the types of trust I think are most important to driving employee engagement in your idea management process:

Trust in the vision

Company vision establishes where you want to be in the future and why it matters. It helps everyone connect to something bigger — believing that together you can achieve it. If you care deeply about the company's vision, you will push yourself and others to set ambitious goals, contribute new ideas, and recover from setbacks.

Teammates can say:

  • I trust the company to keep its commitments.

  • I feel confident that the company can achieve what it says it will.

  • Our company values guide our decision-making.

  • I feel a sense of loyalty to the organization.

Trust in leadership

Leaders set the tone for their teams. Great leaders coach hard while being transparent about real challenges. You tolerate criticism and give meaningful feedback. Forward-thinking leaders spot opportunities for team members to solve creative problems and take on new responsibilities.

Teammates can say:

  • My manager believes I am capable and provides me with opportunities to grow.

  • I know I will be supported when I need help.

  • Most people at the company have an open dialogue with their team leads.

Trust in the team

Well-functioning teams are highly engaged. You share information openly and feel a deep sense of camaraderie. You are motivated to help each other work through thorny problems — feeling fortunate that some of the best ideas come directly from your teammates.

Teammates can say:

  • I feel a sense of loyalty to my team.

  • The company values my team.

  • Our team works together and we respect each other.

  • Our team has the power to influence decisions.

Trust in the process

Transforming an idea into a successful innovation takes effort. You need a system in place for collecting, nurturing, and evaluating ideas. When you create an inclusive process, anybody can contribute a new idea or build on someone else's.

Teammates can say:

  • Everyone knows where and how to submit new ideas.

  • It is easy to vet new ideas against strategy and incorporate them into existing plans.

  • When I submit an idea, I am confident that a reviewer or team leader will respond.

  • There are clear, objective reasons for why we move forward on some ideas and not others.

Trust the action

Innovative companies follow through. You push to prioritize the most valuable ideas and actually implement them. You create real investment by aligning the best ideas with key initiatives and setting boundaries on when you plan to deliver.

Teammates can say:

  • I am confident in our ability to take action as a company.

  • It is energizing to collaborate and move forward on new initiatives.

  • Each team knows where we are headed as a company and what is coming next.

  • I believe we can turn our vision into real value.

When you strengthen both trust and accountability, you can transform great ideas into reality — driving dramatic improvements for customers and internal teams.

Building and maintaining a high-trust culture takes daily effort. If you truly want to innovate, you need to engage in conversations about all dimensions of trust. And do not stop there. Give everyone a chance to contribute to where you are headed. You will be more satisfied and stronger for it.

What other factors contribute to a culture of innovation?

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Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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