HR’s Role in Creating a Culture of High Trust: Q & A with Richard Fagerlin #SHRM18

Richard-Fagerlin-Head-ShotI just looked up and realized SHRM18 is about a month away. Wow. Chicago, here we come! As you know, I have the honor of being a part of the SHRM18 Blogger Team and as such have conducted Q & As with three of the speakers who are having sessions. I’ve already posted Karlyn Borysenko and Joe Gerstandt. Last, but certainly not least, I have Richard Fagerlin who gave a FANTASTIC presentation at SHRM17 on the topic of trust and is back for SHRM18 to keep the message going with his session: HR’s Role in Creating a High-Trust Culture: Tips, Tools & Techniques to Increase Your Trust Factor.

Richard Fagerlin is the president of Peak Solutions, Inc. a leadership development firm dedicated to helping companies invest in their greatest asset — their people. Richard travels the U.S. and internationally as a dynamic trainer, facilitator, and keynote speaker. As a leading authority on the topic of Trust he has four times (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) been recognized as one of the 100 top Thought Leaders on Trust by the organization Trust Across America – Trust Around the World. 

TrustologyAs the author of Trustology: The Art and Science of Leading High Trust Teams, Richard has left an impact on thousands of people through his powerful, poignant, and often humorous talks on trust where he will challenge your long-held beliefs on the issue of trust.

Humorous and challenging – what more could we ask for? Richard was kind enough to take some time to answer my questions. As usual, I will not edit for length but comments I found particularly poignant are in bold. 

TR: What is HR’s role in creating culture (in general and high trust specifically?)

RF: HR’s greatest asset to an organization is in shepherding the alignment of mission, vision, values and objectives of the organization with the human systems that make these all happen. Said differently, HR is the guardian or gatekeeper of organizational culture. The funny thing about culture is that I don’t think you can change it. Culture is a result of what you do. If you want a different culture you have to do things differently. You can’t change culture by the stroke of a pen and with a well crafted memo or email from the C-Suite. We believe that every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it gets so it is HR’s responsibility to make sure that the current culture is what will drive organizational mission and vision and if not, to help alter the design to get different results. Equally important is to make sure that if the culture is in fact what you are looking for and what works for you that HR takes time to examine what is being done (or not done) to achieve this result and to help protect and preserve the culture that is driving high trust, that is driving performance, that is driving impact, etc.

TR: Why do some organizations have a high-trust culture while others do not?

RF: Organizations that have high trust cultures have proven by their actions and areas of focus that it is important to them. Not to oversimplify this complex issue but in every organization we have worked with that has high trust it is something that is valued, worked for and on daily and embodied by the very top of the organization. High trust organizations have significant clarity of purpose and leaders provide clarity and focus to their team members. There is a spirit of openness and vulnerability and there is a sense that others are “for you.” Difficult decisions are made that show a bias for living out high trust values, even when it may slow down progress, cost time and money and make people uncomfortable.

Organizations that don’t have a high trust culture have a bias for speed and performance, sometimes at any cost. Respect for the individual is low and employees make too many decisions based on fear instead of making decisions based on what is the right thing to do.

Bottom line, it starts at the top. You cant have a high trust culture if there isn’t cohesion and trust at the executive level. Period.

TR: What’s the easiest way to determine the level of trust that exists in an organization?

RF: Are people for each other and do they give each other the benefit of the doubt? It’s not blind trust, it is a vulnerable strength that is shown by the way people admit fault, accept responsibility and react to mistakes.

TR: Why is a culture of high-trust so important to an organization? How does it impact other areas of business?

Organizations with high trust have lower turnover, greater productivity, less absenteeism and as an added benefit…employees simply like their jobs more. It touches all areas of the business and puts immediate benefit to the bottom line.

TR: What is the biggest takeaway you want attendees to get from your session?

RF: I want them to walk away with a different perspective on trust and to understand the role they play in creating a culture of high trust.

 

I am so fascinated by this topic because I see the impact trust, or the lack thereof, has on every function of an organization. I feel this particular comment bears repeating –

Bottom line, it starts at the top. You can’t have a high trust culture if there isn’t cohesion and trust at the executive level. Period. 

This is so true. One of my biggest takeaways from SHRM17 is that culture is not what you say, it’s what you do. Not that I didn’t already know that, but hearing it from multiple sources was affirming. Actions must align with words and it all starts with trust. You can’t have an organization that values communication, innovation, honesty, etc. if the trust isn’t there. It will never work. If the trust isn’t there, you can’t even say you value people for real. I’m looking forward to attending Richard’s session this year and taking copious notes. I hope to see you there!

Contact Richard:  Web / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn

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