Creating a high trust environment in the workplace

On Thursday 17th May Genzyme welcomed a number of lucky people to their fantastic facility in Waterford to hear about how they are using the power of collaboration to great effect in their journey to create a Great Workplace.

The event was facilitated by Great Place to Work (GPTW) who are experts in great workplaces, GPTW deliver gold standard lists and rankings that identify and classify the world’s best workplaces.

It was interesting to hear Pat O’Sullivan, GM of Genzyme, talk about the importance of creating the right set of values and culture. “It’s about people. How are they going to remember you and why will they remember you and their experiences – it’s all about legacy.” Pat attributes the success and achievements of Genzyme to “the quality and performance of our people”. Genzyme use the GPTW process as a barometer for that high performance. Pat then went on to describe the importance of trust in the organisation which is something I can really identify with from my experience with Talentevo clients and in my previous roles. He described how “a high trust environment makes you more agile and adaptive versus the competition”.

In these tough times we all know people need to have complete trust in management and where they are taking the company. In my experience middle management plays a critical role in developing and maintaining that trust.

Communication is central to this and we heard from Colin Wallace, HRD Genzyme, about their engagement programme. This programme consisted of 2 tiers – a)  cross-functional team of 30 people were brought together to start the process b) engagement with all teams across the organsition at a more practical level so everyone was involved. There was a strong emphasis on speaking and listening and they used GPTW as catalyst to talk about “People” & “Trust”.

Colin outlined that each team were asked to focus on “what can we do to make this a great place to work?” This was an opportunity to reflect on how they worked, set clear expectations and goals and agree on what behaviors they wanted keep or move on. A leadership action plan was agreed at all levels and performance reviews would take place on a monthly basis. Creating engagement and conversation between managers and employees helped teams understand where their challenges and wins lay. “We were very transparent with the results and presented these back to each team and made sure it was available to the broader groups. We have seen a direct correlation between high trust and improved performance” said Colin.

I imagine this process has led to more challenging conversations and feedback sessions but this is key if you want to create a competitive edge. ‘Average is over’ and companies are starting to appreciate soft feedback in the current climate just isn’t good enough.

Concluding the presentations the Genzyme HR team joined Colin on stage and again gave us great insights into their experiences on the process to date.

Genzyme promote a willingness to speak up about a problem and a willingness to do something about it. After the presentations I had an opportunity to get a tour of the facility and I saw first hand some great examples of how they support that ethos through their highly visual ‘lean’ processes and speaking with employees.

Overall a great experience for me as Genzyme’s approach to people is very much in line with our purpose here at Talentevo. Our goal is to provide a simple, flexible performance management solution that helps companies to get the best out of their people and providing a structure that can support such initiatives.

Many thanks to Genzyme and Great Place to Work for the opportunity to get such great insights and shared experiences. It was a great session!

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