Building an Environment of Trust

La June Montgomery Tabron


Trust. Vulnerability. Humanity. How do you foster a workplace environment that allows for these important factors? It isn't easy, but it's worth the effort.


Trust. Vulnerability. Humanity. How do you foster a workplace environment that allows for these important factors? It isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.


What would you say are the top three communication essentials as a leader for building that environment of trust and a safe space for vulnerabilities so people can feel that they can be human and it's okay?

La June Montgomery Tabron

The first thing I would say is you have to share information and you have to share it often. One thing that I think we had to address was people believing that information is power, and in a hierarchical structure where the only people with the knowledge are the people at the top and hold on to the power of the data and we distribute it kind of as needed, what you find is that's not trust-building. Communication is one of the hallmarks of building trust, and it's interesting that the pandemic forced us into a higher frequency of communication because we knew that our people were distributed. What we learned through the process is the more we communicated, the happier the people were and the more productive they were, so we actually created a biweekly cadence of all staff meetings on Zoom which we will continue. It's very highly regarded, they are 45 minutes, it doesn't have to be forever, 45 minutes, all staff with a very succinct agenda that's about information sharing, making sure that everyone feels connected, what are the priorities going into the next month or so? What are issues that we are encountering and how might everyone help and support us in these issues? But before the pandemic, after, I think, new England won the Super Bowl, I was driving into work and I heard this announcement about how many huddles New England had conducted on the field as part of their win, and it was many, many more huddles than I would've imagined. Of course, the huddle isn't what they talk about, the huddle isn't what the announcers highlight, but the huddle is where the game is won, so I came back to the foundation and I said, "We need to have more huddles," and we created what we call huddle week at the foundation and several weeks throughout the year, we were bringing the team together, the entire team, and we were huddling about what are we trying to accomplish? We need to get this done? How do we support one another? And those huddles that were maybe quarterly before the pandemic, became 45-minute biweekly huddles, and it just is the glue now for how we stay together in this distributed virtual space.