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

#SHRM17 – ALL IN(SPIRED)

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Beignets from Sunday brunch at Blake’s on Poydras. DELICIOUS!

SHRM 2017 ended last week and I’m experiencing withdrawal. The people, the sessions, the music, the BEIGNETS! What’s not to love? If you missed it, you missed something big. Literally. It was the biggest SHRM conference ever! Between the concurrent sessions, the Smart Stage, the Take 10s and the General Sessions, you could soak up a wealth of information without even trying.

 

Many of the sessions I attended shared the common theme of building trust, shifting culture, HR influence and putting people first. This was deliberate as these are topics that really speak to me and that I believe in fully. (Full disclosure: I ended up in Richard Fagerlin’s session because I was tired of walking that behemoth of a convention center. It was a great session though and I’m glad I attended it.)

I have a ton of takeaways from SHRM17. (I concur with Steve Browne’s statement that if you leave a session without any takeaways, it’s YOUR fault, not the speaker’s.) Some of my favorites are below.

TRUST YOUR PEOPLE.

laszloIf you believe people are fundamentally good, you will treat them that way. (Laszlo Bock)

How many times have you encountered designated leaders who don’t trust the people they hire to do their jobs? You know who I’m talking about. The folks who want to micromanage their employees to death. Perhaps you are (gasp!) one of those people. If you are, stop it right now! That’s no way to inspire or motivate folks to be productive.

Another great Bock statement: FREEDOM IS FREE. Meaning, it costs nothing for you to allow your employees the freedom and autonomy to be effective. Let’s face it – if you don’t trust the people you hire, that says way more about you than it says about them.

CULTURE IS THE SUM OF WHAT YOU PERMIT AND WHAT YOU PROMOTE.

culture

Another way to think about culture. Steve Browne said this in his session as well.

Consider the mic dropped.  This comment on culture from Richard Fagerlin’s session, Creating a Culture of High Trust : 10 Things Every Organization Must Do to Experience High Trust was probably my most retweeted tweet from the conference. Obviously it resonates.

 

We’ve all seen it. You have an organization that prides itself on its core values of  <insert  buzzwords of the moment> but in practice it’s a whole different story. They say they believe in diversity & inclusion, but the leadership team looks the same and thinks the same. They say they believe in innovation but new ideas are always shot down. They say harassment won’t be tolerated but a known harasser gets promoted because they are a high performer. They say they believe in work/life balance but pitch a fit if an employee has to leave early. I call shenanigans! Your culture isn’t what you say it is, it’s what it is.

Another good Fagerlin quote: EVERY ORGANIZATION IS PERFECTLY DESIGNED TO GET THE RESULTS IT GETS. Just let that marinate for a minute while thinking about some of your past (maybe present) work experiences. It’s all starting to make sense now, right? #MajorKey

THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL LEADERSHIP IS INFLUENCE, NOT AUTHORITY.* 

20170626_172813In her session, Influencing Others: 8 Steps to Get Results When You Don’t Have Direct AuthorityValerie Grubb spoke about how to influence others when you don’t have direct authority. Again, this really boiled down to trust. Trust and communication style.

In order to influence someone when you don’t have authority over them i.e. when you can’t say “because I said so,” they have to trust you (see above) and you have to communicate concisely. Speak to the WHY of what you’re trying to accomplish and gain a reputation for getting to the point. This is something I really need to practice. I can get wordy at times. (Don’t say it. LOL. Just keep reading.) WHEN TRYING TO INFLUENCE SOMEONE THEY HAVE TO HEAR YOU FIRST. If they don’t trust you, chances are they aren’t listening.

DON’T KEEP FOLLOWING THE RULES; CHANGE THEM!

20170626_172212You probably guessed this quote came from Steve Browne without me having to say it. He has a bit of a reputation as a rule breaker. In a good way. Make that a GREAT way. Steve is so freakin’ inspirational and his passion for HR and people is contagious.

I attended Steve’s Brand Name HR: Giving Your Function Life & Purpose session. He spoke a lot about pushing boundaries and not letting yourself (and your career) be confined to what HR is “supposed to do” or “should be doing.” We need to challenge the status quo and not be afraid to shake things up for the betterment of the folks we’re here to support.

We can’t be afraid to bring our whole selves to work and we must encourage others to do the same.  We spend too much time at work to have to shut off or hide major parts of ourselves during the workday. For example, I like to change my hair color a lot and I have visible tattoos. Neither of which impacts my ability to do my job. Get over it.

Steve also talked about HR being out and among the people as opposed to always making them come to us. I’m proud to say I do a pretty good job of this. The people are the reason I do what I do. Why would I want to keep my distance from them? I have never been “Ms. Stuffy, Scary, Uncaring HR lady” and I never will be. Let’s not be confined by others’ preconceived notions of HR. IF YOU’RE NOT MAKING PEOPLE UNCOMFORTABLE YOU’RE NOT DOING YOUR JOB. (Thanks for the reminder, Steve!)

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IRL connection w/ @tgweeded – photobomb courtesy of @cescobar78

This was just a small taste of my #SHRM17 experience. There’s no way I can cover it all in one blog post. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how fabulous and fun it was to make IRL connections with the folks I know from #nextchat. (Not familiar? Get into it! Every Wed. 3pm EST on Twitter.) It was so great to put a human-sized face to a tiny Twitter avatar face and take our conversations offline. That was easily one of the best parts of the conference.

 

So SHRM17 has come and gone. Beignet cravings notwithstanding, I’m excited about sharing and implementing what I learned and continuing to connect with other HR professionals, online and off. I went ALL IN and came out truly INspired. Kudos to the entire SHRM team for a WONDERFUL conference!! I hope to see everyone at #SHRM18 next year. (I wonder if there’s any chance of having a batch of beignets shipped to Chicago.) 

BONUS ROUND: If you attended SHRM17, share your favorite part in the comments and/or reach out to me on Twitter @tmrasberry.

*Ken Blanchard quote

(Posted on SHRM Blog June 28, 2017)

Leave Policies Reflect Level of Trust in Employees

Recently a UK company made headlines by announcing it would offer paid leave to women who are having their periods. See here: http://bit.ly/1Pdvdp8

I first saw the article posted in an HR group and all the comments I read focused on how difficult this would be to track/validate and how employees were bound to “abuse” the leave.

While I do understand the HR professional mindset behind needing to track everything, being in compliance, etc., I have always taken issue with the belief that the majority of  employees will take any opportunity to  “abuse” their leave. If an employee has accrued (or become otherwise eligible) for leave, how is using it abusing it? If an employee has 52 days of sick leave and they take one day a week for a year, are they abusing it? Even though they’ve earned it? Isn’t that what it’s there for? Hmm..

I believe an organization’s leave policies and attitude towards usage of leave mirror their level of trust in their employees and reflect their organizational culture. Employers worry about “leave abuse” when they know their employees may not enjoy coming to work. Toxic environments lead to low morale which leads to less productivity, more health issues (physical and mental) and in turn more time away from work. In environments and cultures where employees don’t dread going to work, this is not a concern.

I’ve read several articles stating that employees tend to take less leave at companies that have unlimited leave policies. The employers trust their employees to get their work done and take leave when they need to, for whatever reason, and in turn the employees are productive without having to worry about how best to use their limited leave or what to do when unexpected situations arise.

Going back to the original article, I’m sure that organization has fostered an environment in which they can trust their female employees to utilize the “period leave” as needed and not to “abuse” it. I’m sure the women who work there who could use the leave appreciate their employer caring enough to offer it and in turn, will be happier and more productive knowing that they won’t have to worry about their jobs simply because of a natural body function.

I’m not saying this would work for all employers or that all employers should offer it. But I do believe it’s a great example of an “employee first” culture and we need more of those.

P.S.- It isn’t lost on me that this company is not in the U.S.