As a personal business coach in The Woodlands and also in my business coaching in Houston the first thing I must do to build trust and rapport is to create a culture of safety. This is true in collaborating with and supporting individuals and groups.
Whether it is the small business owner, a large corporation or individual clients my primary goal is for them to feel safe. If you don’t feel safe you will always minimize your sharing of what is going on that needs to be addressed. In other words, without safety, fear rules. And when fear is your guiding force, whether it be in your business or personal relationships it will ultimately lead to difficult situations because it promotes a lack of trust.
In organizations, this lack of trust creates a culture that will stifle creativity. Why is this important? The only way to remain relevant as a company, a team or organization is to embrace change. When there is a lack of trust and fear dominates people are not willing to change. They think that if they change and don’t do things in a new way correctly, they will be held back professionally or at worst, be fired. Cultures that are punitive are not safe. In this type of atmosphere self-improvement or group improvement is very challenging and as a result, the creativity to bring about change is virtually non-existent. Creativity happens in the area of how to survive, not thrive.
The second thing that happens when the culture is not safe is that efficiency will start to diminish. If there is “Holy Grail” in business, it is a focus on efficiency. When I speak with some of my fellow business coaches in The Woodlands, the topic of efficiency almost always comes up. Yet, in a culture that is not safe, efficiency ends up being sacrificed.
How? I am reminded of a client I had who does international manufacturing of “widget” (a made-up name) devices. These are produced in plants around the world as well as Texas and several other states. A new leadership came in that was very authoritarian in its implementation and leadership. Everything was about the bottom line. They decided to cut back on the frequency of maintenance on the manufacturing equipment. They also reduced the capital expenditures budget for new equipment to keep up with the changes in the industry.
The result a year into this was higher maintenance costs, more downtime, more overtime to meet the orders because of equipment breakdown and delays and worst of all, a loss in sales. The employees no longer felt safe because they did not have the tools or resources to do a good job. And, when things did not go right, they were reprimanded for lapses in production that were caused by the new culture of scarcity and threats.
Building a safe culture in your business and personal relationships will allow you to embrace change and stay current or ahead because you can be creative and efficient. Without safety, creativity and efficiency are sacrificed on the altar of survival and an ongoing fear that things are going to fall apart.