When You Trust People You Empower Them

Two colleagues at a computer, discussing with each other

Last week I introduced a new blog series in which I dive into the 5 values we established at Breathe Life. These are the values that the founders and team members follow and that will be there as we hire and scale-up the company. They are our guiding set of principles as we make a hire, bring on a partner, or tackle a new project and are evaluating if it is in line with our values.

In the previous post, I detailed our first value — to be human — and what it meant to us. That to different team members, it meant different things, from how we feel at the office, to how we design our products to how our team interacts. You’ll remember Kenza said,

it’s crucial that everyone on the engineering team is able to not only be humble in asking for help when they need it but they also need to be honest when reviewing each others code, it’s the only way to ship amazing products in a timely manner

This week I’m going to go through our second value — to be trusting — what it means to myself and our team and how we implement it daily.

So what exactly does “to be trusting” mean at Breathe Life?

Pretty much everybody understands what the word trust means, but to us it means to always respect one another, to communicate openly and to be accountable.

This value starts before anyone joins the Breathe Life team. We have a very rigorous hiring process and one of the reasons why is because when we do hire someone, we are trusting that they are able to do the role we are hiring them for and will deliver the best quality work that they can.

As JN, our Chief Data Officer put it,

when we hire someone, they start trust positive, that’s the default. No one will ever have to earn our trust after they’ve signed an offer agreement

Starting trust positive in a role means that we never micromanage, we know that team members will do strong work and deliver on time, and if they can’t, we know they will communicate this to us. We focus on the result, and not the process it took to get there.

This feeling of being wholly trusted as a new hire is something that Rowena, our Head of Business Development, has expressed to me. She joined our team right as I was rapidly ramping up our sales pipeline and as things were getting hectic! When asked to describe how she felt at that time she said,

being invited to be part of discussions and feeling 100% trusted from day 1 empowered me with the confidence to decide what course of action our team needed to take to bring value to our potential clients and build strong partnerships. There was never a doubt in my abilities or capacities and it put me in a positive and healthy mindset that is rewarding for everyone. If it hadn’t been for that, I wouldn’t be able to be this far along in key discussions this early in my time at Breathe Life 

To Be Trusting also means to communicate openly both internally and externally. These blog posts right here are a perfect example of that. We want to showcase to the world who we are, what we’re building and why. Part of it is to be an open book, but mainly it’s so we can hold ourselves accountable. As Founders, we practice this internally on a daily basis. We put a huge emphasis on transparency between ourselves and with our team. We’re not perfect, but we are making a conscious effort to communicate all the information with our team.

Everyone knows every aspect of the company and the things that needed to stay confidential, such as employee salaries or equity amounts, stay private but they are structured very carefully so they are fair.

Another example is when I shared the step-by-step process of our fundraising process. Everyone knew where we were, what the timeline was, why we were raising the amount we were and what it meant for them. We see the importance of communicating openly and honestly with our team as integral because it means that everyone always knows what direction the business is going in and why they are working on what they are. When you trust people they are empowered, and empowered people are motivated to get things done.

Stay tuned later this week for the 3rd blog in this series. I’ll be digging into what Proactive means to us.

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