Corporate trust in the 2.0 world

A successful relationship is built upon communication and trust. That’s obvious in social interactions – when trust is replaced by suspicion and talking is replaced by arguing, a break-up or divorce is inevitable.As an employee I have a relationship with my employer. At ThoughtWorks the relationship is underpinned by communication and trust. ThoughtWorks understands me as an individual with the power of expression. They let you know this in simple (i.e. non-legalese jargon) disclaimer at the bottom of the page on ThoughtBlogs which takes an RSS feed of this page.

Disclaimer: ThoughtWorks embraces the individuality of the people in the organization and hence the opinions expressed in the blogs may contradict each other and also may not represent the opinions of ThoughtWorks.

Working for TW is more about what I can do rather than what I can’t. (And it is a good reason why I love working for them).

Contrast this with many organisations that are more interested in restricting their employees, where interactions are underpinned with suspicion and threatening language. Corporate policies insist that employees sign-up to intrusive and prescriptive “codes of conduct”. The employee is treated as a threat, who will take advantage of anything that is given to them. “Business matters” are everything:

Access to the internet is provided by The Company for business matters only and is subject to the relevant rules governing employee behaviour and is subject to The Company disciplinary procedures, up to and including termination of employment. The company is entitled at any time to examine and/or monitor any usage of any kind on The Company’s premises or using The Company’s equipment. Mess with the Company and The Company will mess with you.

Hardly the language of a successful relationship. Maybe it is time to start challenging this language. With Web 2.0 concepts creeping into corporate life (corporate blogs, Wikis etc) organisations are going to face the dilemma of either maintaining existing prescriptive policies (“thou shalt not…”) or starting to trust their employees, to allow individual expression (“you can… [but]”). The two cannot co-exist. And once the internet codes of conduct are ripped to pieces, maybe innovation can start to flourish. Isn’t it when employees are doing “non-business matters” that the greatest innovations are born?

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