Aug 022012

The Best Place to Work, Part 2: Create an environment of trust

Last week, I wrote about surrounding yourself with the best and brightest.  Next in this series of posts  is all about Creating an environment of trust.  This is closely related to the blog post I wrote a while back in my series on Return Path’s Core Values on Transparency.  At the end of the day, transparency, authenticity, and caring create an environment of trust.

Some examples of that?

  • Go over the real board slides after every board meeting – let everyone in the company know what was discussed (no matter how large you are, but of course within reason)
  • Give bad news early and often internally.  People will be less freaked out, and the rumor mill won’t take over
  • Manage like a hawk – get rid of poor performers or cultural misfits early, even if it’s painful – you can never fire someone too soon
  • Follow the rules yourself – for example, fly coach if that’s the policy, park in the back lot and not in a “reserved for the big cheese” space if you’re not in Manhattan, have a relatively modest office, constantly demonstrate that no task or chore is beneath you like filling the coke machine, changing the water bottle, cleaning up after a group lunch, packing a box, carrying something heavy
  • When a team has to work a weekend , be there too (in person or virtually) – even if it’s just to show your appreciation
  • When something really goes wrong, you need to take all the blame
  • When something really goes right, you need to give all the credit away

Perhaps a bit more than the other posts in this series, this one needs to apply to all your senior managers, not just you.  Your job?  Manage everyone to these standards.

  • Daniel Clough

    Some good nuggets :)

    I was reading about creating an environment of trust recently actually and one of the points covered was about making a real effort to see people beyond what they can do for you at work. Take time to understand their background and personal histories – do they have family? What do they enjoy outside of work? What do they worry about? etc. etc. This can create a really strong bond and layer of trust, particularly if you also give up this type of information to others about yourself.

    • Matt Blumberg

      Absolutely.  We always say “get to know people as people.”Matt

  • Matt Baker

    It’s admirable that your entire team can be so transparent from the top down. It’s obviously out of context from Return Path’s perspective, but do you think that this practice could be applied at a public company, with the whole ‘privileged non-public information’ thing? I guess if you release it it’s public but the market may crucify (or love) such a company.

    • Matt Blumberg

      I do think it can work as a public company, but I haven’t tried that yet.  I have heard of a public company CEO who is extremely transparent as he was when the company was private; when he discloses something material, he just tells employees “you now have access to inside information; if you trade on it or pass that information along, you’ll go to jail, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it!”Matt

  • Josh Rutstein

    Matt, your theme of getting news out in the open strikes on a pet-peeve of mine; the Pre-Meeting Meeting. When you have bad news from the trenches, the first inclination is to schedule a meeting with all the senior players to get the news out. Too often I see people feel the need to do individual updates to each exec before the meeting. Inevitably everyone knows the issue before the actual status meeting. At that point the 'pre-meetings' become the actual meeting and the real meeting becomes a post-meeting. What a spectacular waste of time. I wish more senior execs would be encouraged to deal with news in real time rather than having to "break it to them gently" before hand. Surprise is good, C-level execs could actually see how their team responds, what a great indicator of real talent.

    • Matt Blumberg

      The only thing worse than the Pre-Meeting Meeting is the Post-Meeting Meeting!Matt

  • Daniel Clough

    John, that's a good point. I had some news to deliver to my leadership team last week and there was a temptation to fill in a few of them before to ensure they felt ok about it and to get them on side. But, in the end it just seemed a waste of time and as you say seeing how the whole group responds is really interesting.

    Sometimes it can be useful though. For example if I have a very big decision to make I may bring one or two people into it to get another take on it and make sure I haven't missed anything and then announce to the leadership team. Sure, a few people them know but it's worth it to ensure you didn't miss anything for a key decision.

    • Matt Blumberg

      I think 1 or 2 is different than 10, for sure!Matt