Talk strategy, planning and partnership as much as you want; go ahead and add some values based strap lines to your communications, but be sincere about it in everything you do or be prepared to lose both the trust of your people and effective team working – as a minimum. Karen Ford MD PB Imagineering explains more

Positive team behaviours and a collaborative working ethic are core ingredients for any highly performing organisation. Added to this is an appreciation that there is a ‘spirit of intention’ to perform optimally, an intent that everyone believes in.

An example of this could be a well-matched Partnership where a healthy air of transparent pragmatism supports the intention to make right decisions for the benefit of key stakeholders even if the specifics are not written into the Partnering Agreement. In other words for partnering arrangements to benefit from trust and collaboration, the Partners should be mindful that success in the relationship is more than compliance with the ‘words and numbers’ that formally define it. From a team efficiency and effectiveness stand point, recognising this and being honest about any trust issues is where the greatest opportunity to build better relationships lies.

To capture the extent of your opportunity, a quick appraisal to determine whether teams identify more with Type A or Type B traits in the example below (fig.1) could be an illuminating starting point. 

Type A Organisation (Fear)

  • Veiled Agreement/Conflict
  • Minimum for Compliance
  • Defensiveness and Criticism
  • Focus on Activity Ego and Division

Type B Organisation (Trust)

  • Constructive Dialogue/Debate
  • Full-Buy-In and Extra Mile
  • Culture of Coaching and Feedback
  • Focusing on Results
  • Camaraderie and Solidarity


Being clear, sincere and truthful about what you stand for is essential as it forms the anchor for every decision an organisation will ever make. It will also create the right environment in which your people perform cohesively. Many businesses divest huge energy into creating and communicating a positive and unique image. They do this for competitive advantage through marketing swagger and to attract the best talent. All well and good, but we are operating in interesting times and more than ever minds are being drawn to what we really have faith in, what we can feel comfortable with and what we are proud to belong to.

Using the example above, if in a Type A Organisation, the business values were reportedly documented as:

“Respect for each other”, “Supporting innovation”, “Positive risk taking”, “Creating added value”, the mismatch between the behavioural norm and the ‘words on the tin’ could have limiting implications for the business and negatively impact trust and the business brand.

“Forty per cent of employees believe corporate values aren’t worth the paper they’re written on and only just over 50 per cent believe they have any positive influence on behaviour.” CIPD REPORT 2012

iStock_000023125988XXXLargesmInstinctively we can determine that this will have a huge impact on personal belief and trust in any organisation – you could call it a 50 per cent ‘Results’ and ‘Impact’ opportunity to unlock and this is screamingly obvious because trust is so vital to profitable outcomes.

We can scarcely keep tabs on the news without being reminded of the current lack of confidence in politics, our financial establishments and the media. As global democracy and a sense of fairness appears to be in crisis we are served up hefty headlines that lead us into one viewpoint – mistrust. How we assimilate this feeling can either leave us powerless to the dis-ease mistrust brings or we disengage from the root cause completely.

About Sarah OBeirne


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