Our trust work began nearly 25 years ago...
People often ask us how trust became our focus. The answer? We were led there by our clients.
It began in 1992. We met in graduate school, and fell in love. Soon, we formed a consulting practice. In those early days, we helped organizations fix broken change efforts and form self-directed work teams.
Leaders called us when their projects weren’t working and they couldn’t figure out why. We’d start with assessments to see what people were experiencing.
We found out that, again and again, projects were stalling because people didn’t trust one another.
At the time, we were both working on our doctorates, and were reading everything we could on teamwork, leadership, and change management. While we found that the literature talked about how essential trust was, no one could tell us how to build trust if it was missing. In fact, we couldn't even find a usable definition of trust in the business literature.
Since the world of business couldn’t help, we reached outside of it into the fields of psychology and human development. We read about addiction, divorce, and death – things that gave insight into how people related to one another when trust wavered.
We gained insight, yet were left with more questions than answers.
We then conducted our own research. Over four years, we worked and conducted research in 67 companies across 19 industries. We interviewed 387 executive leaders and held small group discussions with employees.
We talked with thousands of people about trust.
Our most striking discovery? When we asked people to talk about trust, they mostly talked about the times trust had been broken. This helped us realize that while trust building was critical, so was rebuilding broken trust. Everybody had a story of broken trust and often felt betrayed at work. People needed a way to move forward and trust one another again – and work well together -–after perpetual disappointment, hurt, let down, and betrayal.
We learned, first hand, the core human need we all have to connect with one another through trust.
This research, together with our consulting work, informed our models for pragmatically building – and rebuilding – workplace trust. For nearly 25 years, we have dedicated our professional work to researching trust, writing about trust, and teaching leaders, teams and entire organizations how to build and sustain trust. We strive to live the very principals we bring to the world - living trust from the 'inside out.'
Trust building is our passion.
In the field of organizational trust, our clients refer to us as pioneers. We’re proud to have made a contribution. Yet, our deepest point of pride? How our clients integrate trust building into all aspects of their lives. Time and again, people tell us: “Not only has my company’s culture been transformed, but so have my relationships outside of work. I’ve been able to teach these principles to my family and friends. My life has changed.”