Using Trust to Build a Better Office Culture
We’ve all heard the stereotype about the dreaded Monday morning – the weekend is over and it’s time to get back to the office. But why is work so anxiety-ridden?
Almost always, it feels like it’s about our co-workers.
Ask any group of adults to raise their hand if they’ve had a coworker or boss they didn’t get along with. Now ask those that raised their hands if that one person they’re thinking of brought down their overall view of the job single-handed.
I almost guarantee you, everyone who raised their hands the first time will raise their hands the second time.
Culture is built one relationship at a time
Office culture is made by the people inside the office, and if you have challenging people, you get a challenging office culture. I’ve heard difficult office culture as being described as “a nest of vipers,” “a bunch of selfish a-holes,” and simply “hellish.” As Jean-Paul Sartre famously wrote in his play, No Exit, “Hell is other people.”
I don’t believe that people who make work difficult for others are inherently terrible, even if you might characterize them that way, or that some of them do so intentionally. I’d wager they’re just as nuanced and valuable in their own way, even if it doesn’t feel like they are creating a lot of value at work. If we dispense the judgement of their character, what are the actions or behaviors that make terrible co-workers terrible?
The good, bad, and the ugly – It’s all about trust
You can’t trust them to show up on time. Or file reports with the correct formatting. Or be transparent with the direction the company is headed. Maybe you can’t trust them to handle customers with care, or for them not to say something demeaning. Perhaps you don’t trust them to do their share of the work or to keep their hands off your salad dressing that is very clearly labeled as belonging to you.
Whatever the potential transgression, large or small, it’s a lack of trust that causes friction, anger, hostility, and an overall feeling of unease towards those we work with.
So what can we do about it?
Building a different way forward
Short of quitting or firing the offending party (assuming you have this authority and legal backing to do so), the answer is to build trust.
This is the longer investment, which requires more energy and more time, but can be transformative in its positive impact on you and your workplace. It is possible to be excited about Mondays as well as your co-workers – assuming you’ve created a culture of trust and belonging.
Then how exactly does one go about building trust?
You can start with the scaffolded framework for building trust that we share in the Trusted Leader Lab: you first have to build trust with yourself. This confidence creates the ability to build trust with another, which unlocks the skills needed to build trust at scale.
If you’d like to get some practical, specific tips on how to build trust, and to see firsthand how building trust with yourself allows you to build trust with others and at scale, we’d love to invite you to participate in one of our free online workshops. You can sign up and see the schedule for our next workshop offerings here.
In our workshops, we cover everything from the crucial skills to help you successfully navigate the future of work, to receiving feedback well, to building credibility with yourself, to building spaces of belonging. It’s a quick yet powerful skills-building experience all packed into as short virtual session. So if you’re looking to make your Mondays better, we’d love to see you at our next workshop.