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Creating a Workplace Culture of Trust and Safety

I attended the national conference for the Association for Talent Development this week and was inspired by Simon Sinek, one of the keynote speakers. Here are some insights he shared on creating greater trust and safety in the workplace.
We Always Respond to the Environment We Are In

“Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast,”
– Mark Fields, Ford

When I initially contract to work with organizations, many leaders are concerned about lack of trust and how to
change their corporate culture.

As Simon Sinek stated in his keynote speech this week at the ATD conference, “we are social animals and we respond to our environment.”

A natural reaction to an environment that is not supportive and where employees don’t trust leadership is cynicism, paranoia and self-interest. In this type of environment, employees don’t think their managers have their backs and they have to protect themselves against their own leaders.

Whereas, when employees trust their leaders and their workplace, they are more likely to bring their best selves, contribute and be engaged.

So what’s the difference?

Great question. Here is an example. Noah is a barista at two establishments in Las Vegas.

Workplace 1: The Four Seasons. At the Four Seasons, managers walk by Noah several times a day and ask if he needs anything and what they can do to support him. Noah’s response is that he feels happy and free to be himself. The result is that Noah goes above and beyond to provide outstanding customer service.

Workplace 2: At Caesar’s Palace, the management also walks by Noah several times a day – but their motivation is different. They mainly give critical feedback and are looking to catch employees doing something wrong. The result? Noah keeps his head down and flies under the radar so that he doesn’t get in trouble. He does the minimum to meet the requirements of his job.

Which kind of environment do you work in? One thing that I would like to add here is that although culture DOES start with leadership, it is every employees responsibility to help co-create the work environment.

However, if a culture based on trust, safety and collaboration is not consciously supported or created by the leadership, employees will be in survival mode instead of contribution mode.

Ken Blanchard, a legend in the field of business and leadership development, was also a speaker at ATD this week. He had this to say about creating a more positive, collaborative work culture:


Utilize differences positively. The people around you have ideas and talent and non of us is as smart as all of us. Seek other opinions.

Nurture safety and trust. Creating a workplace culture of trust and safety takes time. It is important to create an open environment where people can share their opinions without fear.

Involve everybody in establishing clear purpose and goals. Although leadership may set the tone, it is imperative that input for vision and goals be sought from employees so that they have an opportunity to contribute.

Talk openly. Share information. Share concerns, share successes, share “failures.” This creates an environment where openness is cultivated.

Empower yourself and others. Do people feel safe to take initiative? Are there systems in place for people to take risks and innovate? How are people encouraged to stretch themselves?

Indeed, culture is the most important factor of creating a successful organization.

At Transformative Training, we support your growth as a leader as a team and as an organization with our 25 years experience in the field. We believe every leader, team and organization needs support in growing and expanding. Let us know if we can support you in Creating a Workplace Culture of Trust and Safety!

For your growth,

Jeannie Gunter, MA, PCC
Facilitator, Coach, Trainer, Consultant
Founder, Transformative Training
303 653-3097

Jeannie Gunter, MA

Jeannie Gunter, MA

Founder, Transformative Solutions

303 653-3097

Jeannie works with a wide variety of clients to help them increase their team effectiveness and leadership capacity in their teams. She has worked both nationally and internationally as an organizational consultant, facilitator, speaker and wilderness guide.

With a strong background in group dynamics, over the past 20 years Jeannie has guided hundreds of teams in a wide variety of organizations to successful outcomes in team, personal and professional development.


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