Building a culture of trust and motivation within a business is a two-way
street built largely on communication. Both employees and management should
commit to open dialogue across the board. This may sound simple in theory,
but can be difficult to implement. For example, while it may seem easy to
celebrate successes together, it’s not always clear how the full team
should work to address problems. Inclusive and honest discussion should be
the goal, even if there is disagreement. That’s because the process of
working through those disagreements is crucial for a healthy workplace
culture and high morale.
No matter the structure of your company or the idiosyncrasies of your
industry, here are the core principles that should underlie all types of
communication to create an atmosphere of trust and keep motivation high.
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Employees: speak with authority
A business needs the full participation of every employee to be successful,
so remember that your voice matters. This is especially true when your
views differ with one of your colleagues. Don’t be afraid to disagree. Your
particular role in the company gives you a unique perspective, which can
shed light on issues from a new angle and help to solve potential problems
I experienced this myself early on in my career. The company I was working
for at the time had just announced a new strategy. I knew that it needed
serious improvement, and could actually be detrimental to our business if
implemented as initially envisioned. Though I was nervous about expressing
my concerns to colleagues who outranked me, my recommendations ultimately
improved our overall plan. This experience gave me the confidence to
continue sharing my opinions, and now, having led businesses for several
years, I understand the importance of fostering open communication from the
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Management: encourage differing points of view
As a leader, you have even more power to create an environment where your
colleagues know that their voices will be heard. A major part of this
involves accepting differing points of view, which has a two-fold benefit
for your business: It gives everyone the confidence that their thoughts are
valued, which builds a sense of loyalty. It also encourages critical
thinking about the state of the business from all levels. Once this open
culture has been established and appropriately encouraged, problems can be
addressed, or even prevented, earlier, as you will have set the stage for
more vigilance about the well being of the company.
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Management: formal recognition also goes a long way
Balance is key for most aspects of a business, and that holds true for
creating a trusting culture. Just as employees should be able to honestly
communicate with management in order to solve problems, they should also
expect widespread recognition for their successes. I put that theory into
action at H2O+ Beauty by creating the Water Walker award. This program
recognizes individuals or groups from any part of the company that
exemplify H2O+ Beauty’s values, based on nominations from all team members.
Traditions like this can be a tool to keep motivation high by showing
everyone how their achievements are appreciated across the entire business.
Employees: participate in important traditions
Since the Water Walker award was originally the brainchild of the
leadership team, it is especially important for employees to give it
credibility by participating. Ideally, traditions like these underscore the
value of an individual or group to both their peers and superiors, but they
require eager, honest contributions from the bulk of the workforce to
fulfill their potential.
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Ultimately, each member of a business has the power to build a culture of
trust and boost motivation among their colleagues. Leaders may set the tone
of the culture with strong opinions and positive traditions, but the
longevity of an open, mutually supportive culture cannot be assured without
the buy-in of employees. If individuals at every level of a business can
express themselves confidently and show equal respect for important
customs, the culture will thrive over the long term.
Joy Chen is the chairman and CEO of H2O+ Beauty, a leading brand of
premium, water-based skincare products.