If a corporation is considered a person in a legal sense, it must also act as a person would in a position of responsibility to its community of all stakeholders, not just shareholders. It is presumed this person would not have a personality defect or mental illness and would operate as though it has a soul, complete with values, ethics, morals, a sense of purpose and a reason for being. Without modelling and encouragement from top management and genuine adherence to the meaning of these words, a business may have a life but not a soul.

Employee trust and commitment to their organisations are in decline, yet trust and commitment are essential for every corporation’s performance and sustainability. Trust in the workplace is essential for durable, satisfying and rewarding relationships. It is achieved through productive communication, understanding and respect. Distrust breeds conflict and this can consume time and energy, diverting management attention from more profitable activities and outcomes. Trust is one’s assessment that another will not deliberately, accidentally, consciously or unconsciously take unfair advantage. It is a person’s hope and belief that the trustee will protect and preserve one’s self-esteem, status, relationship, career and even life. We must behave consistently over time to build trust and follow through on promises made.

In order to achieve this level of trust, expectations must be explained with agreement to necessary steps to complete expectations, sanctions for not meeting expectations, and procedures to measure outcomes. Trust contains a strong emotional component, and parties should be able to share their expectations for one another, negotiate for expected behaviours and openly acknowledge mutual distrust. Expectations are created with or without collaboration, and unilateral expectations, when broken, often cause the most harm.

Jan-Mar 2016 issue

International Center for Compassionate Organizations (ICCO)