The Key to a Healthy Workplace


Crista Perlton

Crista Perlton


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The Key to a Healthy Workplace

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What do most bad relationships have in common? Whether it’s a romantic partnership in trouble, some bad situation going on in a family, or a dysfunctional coworker relationship, a lack of trust is so very often the core problem.

Relationships that lack trust foster unhealthy behaviors that ruin the relationship. In the business world, establishing trust among all members of the organization can help avoid some of the worst office problems that hurt everyone.

This piece is part of our Chōwa blog series.

Most Workplace Problems Can Be Traced Back to Mistrust

Very few people are excited to go to work every day, mostly because it’s work. But sometimes work can be nearly torture. Maybe your manager micromanages you. Or you made one mistake, and your supervisor now is always watching your every action. Or you’ve been asked for your opinions many times, but your expertise and advice are never taken. All of these problems stem from the same toxic root: mistrust.

Working relationships that lack trust often feel terrible and are less productive than healthy, trusting work relationships.

Some of the common workplace problems that link back to lack of trust:

  • miscommunication
  • lack of communication
  • gossip
  • micromanagement
  • tons of meetings constantly
  • low morale
  • overworked leaders
  • high employee turnover

Not good! This (and more) is why trust is one of the three pillars of Inedo’s business cultural philosophy of Chōwa.

What is Shintaku?

Written with the characters for “faith” and “consign,” Shintaku roughly translates to “trust” and “entrust”. Shintaku is the soul of Chōwa.

The “entrust” part of the definition is the most novel. Trust is both earned and given. Someone can do plenty to earn trust, but if you aren’t willing to give them your trust, there is no Shintaku. 

Aside from avoiding all those toxic work culture problems, basing your work culture on trust has many positives. Organizations will get the benefit of distributed labor and the creative, new ideas that come from working with others.

Fostering Shintaku

Just saying “we trust our employees” isn’t enough. Organizations (and especially leaders) must work towards a place where there is an environment of genuine trust in the workplace. It is a process of continuous improvement. Here’s some actionable advice on how to do it.

Embody Trustworthiness

All members of an organization must embody trustworthiness. We’ve been sharing this message nonstop because it is vitally important: If company leaders do not take the principles of Chōwa seriously and show their employees that they follow it, there is no point in trying to change through Chōwa. If every part of a car wants to turn right but the steering wheel turns left, that car is going left! Leaders, steer your employees in the right direction. 

Here are some concrete ways to demonstrate trustworthiness:

  • Meet deadlines
  • Communicate clearly and respectfully
  • Follow through with promises and obligations 
  • Share tasks with others
  • Include others in decision-making processes

Give Second Chances

You’ve likely experienced this anti-pattern yourself, or at least you’ve witnessed it: Someone at work makes a mistake. They are disciplined by a manager. On future projects, the manager keeps a very close watch on that employee and micromanages their work. No one likes this!

To foster Shintaku in your workplace, you must give second chances. Leaders in particular must fight the impulse to meet mistakes with micromanagement or reactionary tracking. Clear communication will help all involved parties establish milestones for success. Leaders and employees can then work together in a constructive (rather than micromanaging) way.

Forgive and Forget

Giving second chances is pointless if you don’t also forgive and forget. If you give someone a second chance, you must demonstrate trust by letting them have a “fresh start.” Letting their past actions influence how you will perceive their future behavior is not Shintaku.

(Obviously, there are limits. Shintaku does not deal with egregious employee dishonesty, like embezzlement, assault, and harassment. Those are situations that should, of course, be taken very seriously the first time and handled via the proper authorities.)

Have Courage

Shintaku takes courage. To entrust something to someone else means to put it into their care. It’s scary to trust someone with something, especially when they have disappointed you in the past. But as we talked about in the Tantō blog, responsibility hoarders make their coworkers miserable and end up miserable themselves! To entrust responsibilities to others takes courage and faith, but it pays off.

Remember to start small to build your own confidence in sharing responsibilities, slowly but steadily working your way to a place of great trust in your colleagues.

Get the Chōwa Book

Shintaku is just one of the many elements of Inedo’s new cultural philosophy of Chōwa, or “natural balance.” We will be explaining the various elements of Chōwa here on our blog and on our social media (TwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn). Subscribe to these channels and download your copy today to learn about Inedo’s unique cultural philosophy of Chōwa.

Crista Perlton

Crista Perlton