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Building a Culture of High Performance: The Power of Sincerity

By David Cairncross
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Written in collaboration with David Cairncross, COO at SF Recruitment

Creating a culture of high performance in the workplace is increasingly recognised as essential for organisational success. To explore this topic, we collaborated with David Cairncross, the Chief Operating Officer at SF Recruitment. With over 25 years of expertise in the recruitment sector, David brings a wealth of knowledge and strategic insight into effective attraction and retention strategies.

David's impressive career includes a significant tenure as Managing Director at Hays plc, where he led the expansion of new specialisms and offices, securing and managing numerous large-scale recruitment partnerships. His extensive experience working with a diverse range of organisations enables him to provide valuable advice on building a high-performance culture, within any business.

In discussing the importance of sincerity in building a high-performance culture, David Cairncross emphasises, "Sincerity is fundamental to fostering trust and engagement within a team. When employees feel that their leaders are genuine and authentic, they are more likely to be motivated, loyal, and committed to achieving their best."

Without sincerity, employees won’t feel motivated, trusted, or appreciated. In essence, they will become disengaged and disinterested. Training programmes, employee wellbeing initiatives, and motivational schemes must therefore genuinely reflect an interest in what drives employees to achieve and be part of a productive team.

Sincerity as a Foundation for Engagement

Engaged employees achieve more for their employer and ultimately for themselves. They are motivated to learn, remain loyal, and strive for continuous improvement. Hona AI highlights that implementing sincere strategies can enhance employee satisfaction, retention, and overall performance.

Dan Oswald, in his HR Daily Advisor article ‘Sincerity Is Strength’, notes that a sincere person easily develops trust with colleagues because they are open and honest, even when admitting weaknesses or vulnerabilities. This honesty boosts their credibility, as people appreciate authenticity and know that no one has all the answers.

Missing Traits in Manager Development

In the recent HR Grapevine article, the author asked: ‘Sincerity, vulnerability, joyfulness: What often overlooked traits are your manager development programs missing?’ The article suggests that traits such as vulnerability, joyfulness, and sincerity are often absent in the formal training of managers.

Justin Schakelman, Vice President of Talent Development at Citadel Federal Credit Union, emphasises the need for authentic action during times of change. Employees look to managers for honest and sincere behaviour, which is difficult to fake. Many managers avoid displaying sincerity, potentially hindering their effectiveness.

Authentic Action as a Managerial Strength

Sincere managers stand out because they are genuine. They approach employees without the influence of company politics or HR jargon, which often complicates communication. By being honest and straightforward, managers can foster a more open and trusting environment.

David Cairncross adds, "In my experience, when leaders communicate with transparency and admit when they don't have all the answers, it not only humanises them but also strengthens their relationship with their teams. Employees respect leaders who are willing to be vulnerable and honest about their limitations."

The statistics paint a clear picture: a Gallup survey reveals that 90% of the UK workforce feels disengaged, with managers directly accounting for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. The Chartered Management Institute reports that only 27% of employees consider their managers to be ‘highly effective’.

Re-engaging the Workforce

These findings indicate a need for more effective training and development of managerial sincerity. However, the question remains: can sincerity be taught, or is this notion itself insincere?

Organisations must explore strategies to ensure sincerity is a key component of their engagement efforts. This might include training programmes that encourage managers to be more open and vulnerable, creating a culture where authenticity is valued and rewarded.

David Cairncross reflects, "Training managers to embrace sincerity involves more than just workshops. It requires creating an environment where authenticity is the norm, where leaders model the behaviour they wish to see. This kind of cultural shift takes time but is crucial for long-term success."

Building a high-performance culture hinges on the sincerity of interactions between managers and employees. As organisations strive to enhance employee engagement and performance, fostering genuine, sincere relationships must be a top priority. Through sincere efforts, businesses can achieve a more motivated, loyal, and productive workforce.

David Cairncross
David Cairncross