We’d like to build a high-trust culture where great ideas are cultivated
An award-winning garden doesn’t start with seeds; it begins with rich, fertile soil. If the soil is lacking, the seeds won’t produce a good crop. Both are essential, but one is dependent on the other.
In the same way, creativity and innovation don’t happen in teams where the culture isn’t healthy. They happen when there’s high trust among team members, where they value and respect each other. High trust sets the stage for high innovation; low trust ensures mediocre results.
Want great ideas to emerge consistently in your team? Start with the culture. Work on building trust first, and then the ideas will thrive.
How to build trust
Trust can’t be faked; it comes from being trustworthy. When people know they can trust you, there’s a foundation for strong relationships and high productivity. People don’t have to second-guess your motives because they know they’re genuine.
See how many of these characteristics of high trust are evident in your dealings with others:
- You extend trust to others, letting them do their jobs without micromanaging.
- You explain the “Why” behind your decisions, so people don’t feel like you’re hiding anything.
- You share information equitably, ensuring no one is in the dark – especially less visible or remote people.
- You recognise the unique contributions people make, either individually or publicly (depending on each person’s preference).
- You catch people doing things right.
- You tell the truth and keep your promises.
- You give honest feedback and admit your mistakes.
- You lead with consistency, so people know what to expect.
- You share tough information with honesty and encouragement, and without spinning the facts or glossing over things. People feel like “We’re in this together.”
Trust is earned, not demanded. It will happen automatically as you consistently lead with integrity and compassion.
How to cultivate great ideas
As you set the stage for creativity in the workplace through increasing trust, use these tips to take you from good ideas to great ideas:
- When you have three ingredients in your cupboard, your baking options are limited. If you have fifty, those options are unlimited. In the same way, it pays to bring people with different opinions and perspectives together when looking for new ideas. Research shows that groups with different and even opposing viewpoints are more effective at problem-solving and innovation.
- Recognise people for taking risks, even when it doesn’t work. Reward effort over success.
- Give people a clear line of sight to the organisation’s purpose so they can focus innovative thinking towards a clear objective. Help them find common ground around a common purpose (rather than just profit). They need to feel that, through their creative collaboration, they’re making a difference.
- Include deep thinkers in every discussion – which will often be the introverts that aren’t as vocal. Be intentional about drawing out their contributions so they don’t get overlooked in the brainstorming of extroverts. Extroverts think fast; introverts think deep.
- Set a tone of gratitude for the unique contributions each person brings. If you thank them often, they’ll be motivated to bring up even more ideas.
Build a culture of high workplace trust and set people loose to innovate and you’ll have a team of high achievers who actually enjoy working together!