Trust is not a given, it is something you have to earn

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Lately there is one concept that has gained quite some traction and that is the concept of establishing a Governance of Trust. Based on principles such as transparency, accountability, and mutual respect, a Governance of Trust ensures your organisation to operate more fluidly so it can adapt more effectively to upcoming challenges or changes.

So, why is working with a Governance of Trust of importance? What is it all about and why should you care? As Stephen M. R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust, aptly puts it, “Trust is the one thing that changes everything.” This notion really underscores the transformative power of trust within any organisation that aspires an internal culture driving this kind of empowerment.

At its core, a Governance of Trust involves creating an environment where trust is the foundation of all interactions and decisions. It encompasses a set of policies, practices, and behaviours that ensures employees feel safe, valued, and empowered to contribute to the best of their abilities and possibly beyond. Especially the first is key for creating a company culture where employees aren’t afraid that each time they dare to speak out or do something, they get slashed when things go wrong. We’re all humans, making mistakes is part of our learning process, so let’s make sure that we create an environment that allows for employees to do just that and grow from their failures.

It would be good to note that such a governance model is not about blind faith in your employees. Nobody wants to go to a situation where it full ‘hands-off’ I may assume. Though, from experience we know that this is one of the first things companies are afraid of, when we are coaching them on this topic. Rather, it is about building a solid foundation where transparency, open communication, and accountability are paramount and equally present throughout the organisation.

Obeya example

One of the key drivers in establishing a Governance of Trust is visual management, such as the use of Obeya rooms. Derived from the Japanese word for “big room,” Obeya serves as a central hub where teams collaboratively visualise workflows, and track progress in real-time. It’s the place in the organisation that visualizes its strategy to execution. How awesome is that? Each time we explain the operation of an Obeya to a leadership team, it still surprises me how enthusiastic they get and how fast they want to adopt this methodology. In any case, starting to work with Obeya will never disappoint.

Let’s try to take a closer look at some of the clear benefits of establishing a Governance of Trust in your own organisation.

  1. Increased internal collaboration
    When trust is ingrained in the company’s culture, employees are more likely to share ideas, provide honest feedback, and work together towards common, shared goals. They start to feel more valued and respected, and thus significantly boost company-wide collaboration. Without the fear of retribution, they are also more eager to experiment and offer new solutions. So, the accumulated synergy not only enhances problem-solving skills in your organisation, but also leads to the development of innovative products and services that drive your company forwards to unexplored territories.
  2. Improved employee engagement
    Trust is a critical factor in employee satisfaction and retention. I think we all know that when employees trust their leaders and feel trusted in return, their job satisfaction increases. It easy to understand that they are more engaged, motivated, and committed to their work. But, if you start to extrapolate this even further, you will see that this sense of belonging and loyalty reduces your company’s turnover rates, saving the company significant costs associated with recruitment and training.
  3. Enhanced Organisational Agility
    Organisational Agility is crucial for survival and sustainable growth if you, as an organisation, really want to thrive. By creating a Governance of Trust, you equip your organisation with the flexibility to adapt quickly to (unexpected) market shifts and emerging opportunities.  A culture of trust creates an open form of communication and enables swift decision-making, allowing your teams to pivot and respond quickly to changes without those dreaded bureaucratic delays. This Agility supports your company to stay competitive and positions it to capitalise on new trends and disruptions in your marketplace.
Paradigms of trust

These are only 3 major advantages of establishing a Governance of Trust. Needless to say, there are ample more. I can imagine that you are starting to warm up to this thrilling concept, but are still hazy about how to get there, so let me offer you a few practical examples that you can start with or gather more information about:

  1. Visual management through Obeya
    Implementing visual management practices, such as Obeya, is an effective way to start establishing a Governance of Trust. In an Obeya, teams can visualise their goals, track progress, and identify bottlenecks in real-time. It connects things like your company’s purpose and strategy to the desired projects and execution. By allowing everyone to have access to the same information and visualising how their contributions align with the overall company objectives, it creates transparency and engagement on all levels within your organisation. Integral part of an Obeya are regularly scheduled meetings that ensure all teams, and its members are on the same page, and as such, creating a collective form of accountability.
  2. Creating a safe environment
    If you really want to build a Governance of Trust, it is essential to create an environment where your employees feel safe to fail. It involves shifting the organisational (meaning also yours) mindset, from some form of a blame culture, to one that views failures as learning opportunities. It is really important to understand that this part is crucial. You can establish this by recognising and rewarding calculated risk-taking, the sharing of lessons learned from failures, and encouraging ample room for experimentation. Leaders play a vital part here. By role modelling transparent behaviour about your own mistakes and demonstrating resilience in the face of setbacks (see also our previous article on Role Modelling here), not only helps to build trust among your employees, but also encourages them to innovate and become creative when it comes to problem-solving, instead of following the traditional paths your organisation has already experienced, over and over again.
  3. Transparent decision-making
    A cornerstone of a Governance of Trust is transparency in your company’s decision-making processes. You can, for example, achieve this by involving employees in decisions that affect their work. Or providing clear and consistent communication about your company’s policies and changes and ensuring that information flows freely across all levels of the organisation. Company rhythms like Quarterly Business Reviews or town hall meetings, open-door policies, and internal communities can really help facilitate this transparency. When employees have access to company information, they will start to understand the rationale behind decisions, and feel their voices are heard. This way they feel safe in a trusted environment that is strengthened and aligned with your overarching company goals.

At Twinxter we see many successful implementations of visual management like Obeya and the desire to implement this in an overall approach towards creating a Governance of Trust. The upsides are transparent and if you are looking for more information on how your organisation can benefit from building your own Obeya as a first step, then check out these latest webinars on Obeya Fundamentals. It is adviced to join with a few members from different departments.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Alize Hofmeester

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