The Role of Trust in Changing Cultures and Creating Great Places to Work

July 21, 2015

by Andrea Gappmayer

Recognize This! – Strong, supportive, successful company cultures are built on a strong foundation of trust, pride and camaraderie in relationships at work.

As a Senior Recognition Strategist and Consultant at Globoforce, I have the opportunity to meet and work with fascinating people every day. China Gorman, the former CEO of Great Place to Work® Institute, is one of those people.

In June, we announced that China has taken on the role of Chair of the Globoforce WorkHuman Live Advisory Committee. We could not be more thrilled. It was my honor to present an interview-style session with China Gorman at the Evanta CHRO Leadership Summit in San Francisco.

The first question I asked, because I knew it would be on the forefront of everyone’s minds was, “What traits do you see consistently in Great Place to Work® organizations?” China explained that Great Place to Work methodologies measure three key relationships within the organization:

  1. Is the relationship between employees and their leaders founded in trust?
  2. Is the relationship between employees and their work one that makes employees proud?
  3. Is the relationship between employees in their work group one of camaraderie?

You could see people throughout the room internally asking themselves these questions. Some people nodded; most of them grimaced. Acknowledging the reality of your work culture isn’t easy, but it has to happen. And the realization of the work involved to change the culture can be daunting.

“Does employee appreciation play a role in Great Place to Work organizations?” I asked. China’s response? “100%, absolutely.” Employee appreciation is a key driver of trust. If the relationship between employees and leaders isn’t founded in trust, how can a winning culture thrive? And how can an organization be productive and profitable when their culture isn’t thriving? Simple answer: it can’t.

A key point that China stressed repeatedly is that culture change absolutely must come from the top. Without executive support, it just isn’t going to happen. Using real world examples of leaders who were able to turn their cultures around, China drove home every point she made.

Many people approached her afterwards thanking her for the insight. They appreciated the stories and examples because it gave them ideas in how to change their own culture and the confidence to make it happen.

For the rest of our interview, China had more insight and facts on driving employee appreciation, creating trust, and generating a Great Place to Work culture. Unfortunately, a short blog can’t capture all of the information. Nor can it reflect the atmosphere and energy of the session.

Did you have a company that needed a culture reboot? How did you implement change?


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