No employee is an island

Most of us have heard the phrase “No man is an island” many times throughout our lives, but have you ever thought about its origin?

English metaphysical poet John Donne wrote that, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

In the workplace, that translates to every employee being a piece of your company. Together this is your team. How will you teach them? How will you motivate them? How will you get them to focus on your company goals and vision?

It does not matter if you are a manufacturer, a research company, a service company, or any type of organization, trust is the knitting that must be at the core of your company’s culture to optimize performance.

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In the world of business today, trust is more important than ever, especially when it comes to building relationships with your clients, customers, employees and all stakeholders in your business.

Everyday activities require you to interact with others both internal and external to your business. Without trust in those interactions, you have nothing. You can’t buy trust, nor can you coerce trust. Trust must be earned over a period that requires multiple interactions between people and between companies. Trust is as close to being digital as anything I can think of. Either you trust a person, or company, or you don’t. There is no middle ground.

There are mountains of data that support the thesis that trust and the bottom line are directly related. So, if trust is a key ingredient that helps define your company’s value proposition, how do you develop a trusting environment to deliver on your promises?

Here are six suggestions:

Employee recognition. This is not about financial recognition. Congratulate your employees for a job well-done.

Increase leadership compassion. Respect, recognize and appreciate your employees for their needs. Never judge but seek to understand.

Show them that you trust them. Employees naturally have a distrust of management because they hold the ultimate hammer over their head, their job. To earn trust, you must show trust.

Listen to your employees. They perform their duties 40 hours every week. Better said, they know their job better than you ever will. Show them the respect of their knowledge and listen to their comments or suggestions.

Deliver on your promises. If you promise to do something for your employees, or an employee, do it every time. It takes only one single lie for a manager to be labeled a liar. It is difficult to recover from a single lie. In contrast, a person has to tell a lot of truths to be labeled as trustworthy.

Recognize that people aren’t problems. Problems are problems.

This is all about positive relationships. While command and control are certainly needed in some situations, they should not be the order of the day. In other words, in addition to “what a company does,” it is equally important to focus on “how it does it.”

A sustainable business can only be built on a culture of trusted partnerships with each stakeholder group – including employees, customers, shareholders, vendors and regulators. Trust through transparency will finally gain its due recognition as the only way forward for you and your team. No man is an island.

Larry Girouard is president of The Business Avionix Co. in Newport.