Trust & Authentic Feedback

In the book, “The Invisible Element: A Practical Guide for the Human Dynamics of Innovation,” Rosenfeld and Wilhelmi stipulate something that should make common sense to all of us that, “organizations don’t innovate, people do.” 

And it’s true, to be creative and produce something innovate means allowing people in your organization to be free to do so. Creating and sustaining innovation is a very complex undertaking, and only happens when organizations provide the environment, resources and focus that will allow it to flourish (Rosenfeld & Wilhelmi 2011).

To allow people to use their talent, you have to give them a bit of free range to do so in an environment built on honest to goodness trust. If we could name one factor that can kill a team, project or agency, I think it would be the loss of trust. If people don’t trust you, then you can forget about getting the truth, real communication, and honest work reciprocated. 


Organic team development only begins to develop when people trust each other, and only grows when people share values and beliefs that drive positive team behavior. However, sharing values doesn’t mean that we lose our individual differences. 

When I trust some one, then I feel comfortable in sharing something with them, and when they trust me, they will share something back, then we are able to work together in a collaborative manner. Building trust at different levels is a common theme though out this book. From building an organization that has transparency at all levels to building organizational and individual values, to using our communication and listening skills to ensure understanding to building flexibility in what we do to working with our teams at the proper level. 

We all know the old saying, “Trust is hard to earn, but easily lost.” I know it sounds cliché, but authentic reciprocal trust requires an individual to take a personal risk and that’s not easy for some people to give. Once people lose trust in you, it can spread very quickly to other members of the team and the organization. So be yourself, be honest, communicate and be resilient. Have compassion for others but don’t be a push over either, push back when you need to. Minimize the unnecessary crap that your team doesn’t need to be involved with, but keep them informed through solid communication. Remember what you told people, and keep your word. Get to know people and how you can best motivate them, and look at for them.


Working in a collaborative team environment, means that not only are people sharing ideas, but they are providing feedback.  I know it can be hard to give honest feedback (that’s not always job related)sometimes, but their are some rules that you should follow when giving feedback. 

As a manager and leader you are there as a servant for betterment. It is very important that when you give feedback, it with energy that is giving. Before you set out to give feedback, do your homework, prepare for what you are going to say and make sure its clean of negative energy and done with intention and presence.

Don’t be shy about giving feedback, it scares people when you are giving off odd body language or verbal hesitations. Giving feedback can sometimes be pretty hard to do, people can feel vulnerable. You aren’t looking to break trust, you are looking to build it. 

Watch what you say, when you say it. Don’t be an ass an make anything personal or bring up stuff the person did months ago. Make sure the feedback is timely and something the person can use to help them grow.

Try and give feedback in private, where it’s just you and the other person. No one wants to be given negative feedback in front of the group and the team. Help the person out by providing specifics, on ways that are what I call “strategies for working.” This way together you can both explore ways of improving together, and the person has gained new thinking in ways of tackling problems.

Be conscious of the way you are giving feedback, if you are an ass, then the person is not going to listen to you, the only thing they will remember is you being an ass to them, not that there was a problem that needed to be addressed. Providing feedback is not an easy task, but a place where trust can be easily lost. This is why you need to really think hard about the right way of providing feedback to the individual. Different personalities, requires you to frame your feedback in ways that are proper to them. Understand that not everyone will be open to what you have to say.