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Trust is the antidote to a toxic work culture

Even Stars Need Coaches!

Become a leader that you'd be proud to follow. Reach out today for a complimentary Wayfinders Discovery call to learn how.

“Trust is not a matter of technique, but of character; we are trusted because of our way of being, not because of our polished exteriors or our expertly crafted communications.” – Marsha Sinetar

A lot of potential clients call me because they don’t like going to work – people are stressed out; there’s been a mass exodus of talent; the water cooler gossip is out of hand; they’ve lost confidence in management; and their colleagues are stabbing them in the back.

While these folks might not have the vocabulary to use, they are describing a toxic work culture.  And, unfortunately, it’s quite common.

Unfortunately, these folks are not always in a position to CHANGE the culture. Culture change is most effective when it comes from the C-Suite because they create the environment. For anyone else, taking on culture change is a brave, high-risk endeavor.

I mean, the people at the top succeeded in THIS culture.  They aren’t going to want it to change.

That being said, there are some ways YOU can create a more hospitable work environment for yourself and your colleagues.

Simple recognition instills appreciation into the culture.  Sending a simple kudos or thank you note is a small way, but concrete way to improve morale.

Learning about your direct reports pain points shows that you care. Don’t assume that you know or that they are the same as yours.  Get your team’s point of view on what is going on – what do they cherish about the organization?  What they would change if they could? And, what do they see as possible for the future?

Feeling seen at work can really improve employee morale.

And, most powerfully, you can work to build trust within your organization.  How do you build trust?

You build trust with people through sustained interaction.  You are most easily able to interact with people who are physically close to us, so this is REALLY hard to do remotely. Believe it or not, being even 10 meters away from someone decreases your likelihood of communication exponentially. And, when there’s no communication, there’s no relationship. No relationship, no trust. No trust, no license to lead. No license to lead, no followers.

You need to build people’s gut level relational trust that you not only know what you’re doing from a competence perspective, but that your motives are pure. You do this by SHOWING UP – spending time with people, doing lunch with people, having coffee chats with people.

But, here’s the key – don’t talk about other people, talk about ideas. This way, you can not only get the pulse of the organization, but also earn the right to influence how people think, feel, and behave at work.

To delve deeper on building trust in the workplace, watch Brene Brown’s masterful lecture the Anatomy of Trust. I am not exaggerating when I say that it changed my life.

I hope you all know that I SEE you. Remember, anything or anyone who doesn’t light you up is too small for you.


Sarah-Nell Walsh

Career Coach + Strategist

Even Stars Need Coaches!

Become a leader that you'd be proud to follow. Reach out today for a complimentary Wayfinders Discovery call to learn how.

Sarah-Nell Walsh

Sarah-Nell Walsh is an executive coach, former attorney, and Founder of Wayfinders, LLC. Equal parts big-hearted cheerleader and bold challenger, she works with ambitious professionals, executives, and lawyers who want to perform at the top of their game. Wayfinders has a business development coach for lawyers, a leadership coach for executives, and a transition coach for professionals. We work with all our clients to make their desired impact on their organizations, their families, and the world.

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