Every great company started from a great idea, or built upon an existing great idea. Somewhere, an entrepreneur with a desire to make things better had a thought about a product or service the world needed, and they went for it. But that’s not all it takes. Along the way, other people joined the team and contributed new and thoughtful ideas, adding to and supporting the original idea.
Companies are built layer upon layer from great ideas contributed by your team. These ideas encourage and direct ways to become better, differentiate, solve problems, ease pain point, perform excellent projects and win. When new ideas stop, business stalls and failure increases. Ideas come from people, growth comes from people and successful business exists because of talented people.
So trust your people! Without trusting your team to contribute in meaningful ways, you’ll fail. It’s the leader’s responsibility to ensure a culture of trust exists, which invites and rewards opinions and innovative ideas. So what should company founders and leaders do?
The three keys to building trust are:
Many people are horrible listeners. We’re too busy, assume we already get the point, jump to conclusions, keep adding our own opinions or simply don’t care enough. We need to be better, which we achieve by listening and building trust. Listening makes us more approachable, and employees will believe we have an open mind to hear and understand them. And people know authenticity from feigned interest.
Action follows if you are authentic in listening, even if it’s to simply explain why an idea is worth pursuing or if it just can’t be a priority right now. Also, where it is possible and actionable, give ideas life and a chance to succeed or they’ll stop. Listening is active, not passive.
Regardless of your intelligence or achievements, executives and managers don’t know everything and will never have the collective brainpower, knowledge and insights of every employee. It require humility to recognise that great ideas come from everyone.
For instance, a talented programmer was incredibly intelligent, and at times offensive, to other team members. It built resentment and frustration, not trust. When asked to operate under the assumption that there is always the possibility he could be wrong, like many others in the company, this that way. Be open to improvement, change, innovation and then make sure to highlight others. It’s amazing the trust that can be built by giving honest praise to the true sources of good things.
3. Employee Autonomy
Truly listening and a little humility should naturally lead to employee freedom. People thrive when they’re open to challenge the status quo and have a meaningful impact on their work. They need freedom to grow, freedom to run, freedom to learn and even freedom to fail.
We’ve all been in, or heard about, those toxic environments where employees operate out of fear–that mess-up-and-lose-your-job fear or I’m-the-boss-and-I’m-king-of-you fear. For those of you with people in your organization who create this feeling, fire them now. Actually, try to train them, but if they won’t change, then fire them. Fear creates toxic cultures, and toxic cultures kill trust.
A culture of freedom, wisely crafted and providing a framework of mission and vision, will lead to an incredible result
The original article was published on Inc.