Building an Agile Culture Through Trust

30 Mar 2022

The foundation stone for creating the right culture is trust: whether it’s leaders having faith in their people, employees believing in their leaders, colleagues feeling secure when collaborating with each other, or stakeholders and customers being valued. Trust is the new business currency and needs to be reflected right through an organisation’s behaviours and actions.

According to the Jacobs Model, created by employee engagement expert Susanne Jacobs, there are eight factors which drive trust (and motivation) and when these are absent there is a greater risk to an organisation’s reputation and performance: 

 Belong and connect

If people feel excluded in the workplace they feel threatened, and it can affect their health and wellbeing. It’s important to make sure individuals feel connected to their team.

Significance & position

People are continually assessing their role within their organisation and the contribution they are making. If they do not feel valued, they can feel threatened, which will negatively impact their performance.

 Learn & challenge

Employees need to be continually learning so they can adapt to the ever-changing modern work environment. Employees who feel they have space to stretch their abilities tend to be more productive.

Choice & autonomy

Giving people some control over their work, and the opportunity to make their own choices, can enable them to balance their work and home lives more effectively, helping to improve their performance. 

Voice & recognition

Employees should be encouraged to put their views and ideas across in the workplace, so they feel their contributions are recognised and appreciated.


It is critical for an organisation to treat its employees fairly and consistently. If employees feel they are being treated unfairly it can cause high stress levels and low productivity.

 Security and certainty

When workers are insecure in their position, they can feel threatened, which has a negative effect on their performance and productivity levels.


If there is a clear sense of purpose and everyone is aware of exactly how they can contribute to their organisation, they will be more likely to be engaged and productive.

Trust is very strongly related to culture, and effective leaders strive consistently to create an environment where workers can thrive and develop. 

  To create a sense of safety for your people and your teams, consider:

  • cultivating an ethic of contribution
  • defining and building a shared purpose
  • developing processes that enable people to work together in a flexible but disciplined way
  • creating an infrastructure in which collaboration is valued and rewarded

As individuals become inspired within a trusting and psychologically safe environment, their motivation becomes more personal. They are more likely to endure inconvenience for the good of the whole, to do things because they want to rather than because they have to, and to strive to do their best for their colleagues, customers and the organisation that employs them.