How Building Trust Means Better Meetings

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Building trust: Photo Credit: Vic via Creative Commons

Good leaders work on building trust among their employees—but it’s a feeling that can’t be initiated overnight.

That feeling of trust dates back to the early days of humankind when everything from predators, to weather, to a lack of resources worked against our species to reduce our lifespan. Evolution turned homospiens into social animals, where trust and cooperation become essential to ensure safety among the tribe.

Fast-forward 50,000 years, and that same trust is necessary, especially at a company in which employees dedicate most of their time. Fear stems from uncertainties in the economy, the job market or new technologies that could put employees out of work, which is why good leadership in an organization can set the tone for the entire corporation.

How do you build trust? In this TED Talk from Simon Sinek, “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe,” Sinek references a specific leader, Bob Chapman, who runs Barry-Wehlmiller, a St. Louis-based manufacturing company. After the 2008 recession, the company lost 30 percent of its business and needed to cut costs by $10 million.

Instead of laying people off, Chapman implemented a furlough program. Every employee in the company, even the CEO, was required to take four weeks of unpaid vacation at any time throughout the year with the thought that everyone would suffer a little instead of only some people suffering greatly. Before long, employees began trading time, so that those who could afford to would take five weeks, for example, in exchange so another employee would only have to take three.

The moral of the story: Any leader that shows he or she is willing to sacrifice his or her own comfort for the greater good will earn the respect of others who will be willing to make sacrifices in return. While the philosophy certain applies to meeting planners who run their own companies, it also applies to the meeting planner–attendee relationship. The more attendees trust you, the more they’ll be willing to participate, help make the event better and show up next year.

Check out the entire 12-minute TED Talk here for more inspiration on ways to build that trust.

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