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Creating a Trustworthy Organizational Culture Published: Sunday, March 15, 2009 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel (Coco) Morales

In Puerto Rico, and inside of its institutional systems, there is an urgent need to work with the task of trust building, which is the bedrock for inter-sectorial relations building, interorganizational relations building, community building, team building, effective communication and healthy management.  For years, we have been researching and applying trust management models to enhance a culture of collaboration for high execution and dramatic results.  The factors of a high collaboration environment (behavior is to a great extent a function of the environment) are: speaking truth, accountability, respect, growth, empowerment, and, most of all, trust.  Working with these factors within and among different organizational settings would increase the effectiveness of collaborative and teamwork relationships.


In the absence of trust, any personal or working relationship becomes difficult.  In such a setting, even the simplest expression can be misinterpreted and the best intention instead of being received with happiness, they are demonized.  Thus, organizations and leaders have to be alert to a human factor: SUSPICIONS GENERATES SUSPICION.  When this is the real work ethic, a culture of surviving emerges, where people begin to resort to manipulation, where information is not abundantly shared, and behaviors to protect their self-interests are the order of the day.  Absence of trust has an extremely negative impact on individuals, groups, teams and organizations, and has a very high cost.

When the culture of trust is weak, negative emotions and actions, blaming, criticizing everything or playing it always safe, can diminish the institutional productive energy, undermining the positive work and substantial contributions that people may be doing.

Lack of a strong foundations of trust can induce an organizational anatomy of human destructiveness.  Trust is the human capacity of being truthful, responsible, productive, dependable, faithful, loyal, sincere and genuine. 

So to our Sunday reader who sent an email asking “Why a trustworthy person can experience problems of trust?”, this  is our answer.  Research clearly states that there are at least three explanations: 1) Some people have been injured so deep that they become difficult to trust. 2) They are living or working in a lack of trust environment, and this condition generates individual lack of trust. 3) Often in haste, things are not communicated clearly and on time, resulting in negative surprises, misunderstanding and mistrust.  Good reader, and that is why building trust can be so difficult.

Let us share now a human irony: MANY PEOPLE WANT TO EXPERIENCE TRUST IN ORDER TO EXPERIENCE TRUST IN OTHERS.  In order to break this vicious cycle leaders have to stand up, take the initial steps, and deploy the virtuous cycle where leaders have to stand up, take the initial steps, and deploy the virtuous skills to create an environment of trust.

I don’t want to sound preachy, but one of the reasons that I am so happy with engaging in being a practicing Christian is that only with the work of God in my life my character, my behaviors, and all my undertakings have been transformed.  So when someone tells me, “oh you are a different person”, I say yes, but not because of me, but because of the work of God in my life, which in turn, I try hard and struggle to transfer to others.  This is a happy and lovable battle.

Creating a high trust organization requires more than interpersonal trust.  First, connect to the Creator, and then work hard with yourself and with creating the institutional mechanisms such as norms, values, structures and disciplines that sustain and promote trust.  These factors will enhance the collective identity and the group goals through sharing knowledge and encouraging intelligent and significant participation.  


 Copyright 2009 QBS, Inc.


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