A recent culture survey of a high-tech robotics company returned an employee NPS score of -10 (75 is a world-class organizational culture). Four months later, the culture metric became even worse.

Employees were telling top management that there was a glaring lack of:

  • Trust and transparency
  • Support of risk-taking and trying innovative approaches
  • Autonomy to do their jobs
  • Permission to exercise employees’ judgment
  • Embracing organizational change

The audience for this training was 40 executive and director-level leaders. Their ascent in the organization is due more to their technical expertise and less to their leadership skills. This dynamic contributed to very terse leader directives delivered in a blunt, black-and-white fashion. No explanations were given. Little empathy was practiced. This “just get it done” communication style resulted in several lawsuits being filed by employees.

This cohort of leaders knew something had to change. They realized it was themselves who had to change and then modeled those changes for the company.


TrainSmart designed, developed, and delivered a four-hour virtual communication workshop for Tompkin’s leadership. Everyone would attend one of the two dates for the workshop. The training was focused on building practical leadership communication skills, exploring how to begin building trust with front-line workers, and adjusting leaders’ growth mindset. Scenarios highlighting frequent employee/leader points of friction were then workshopped.

Bottomline – every element of the custom workshop was designed to build trust one conversation at a time.

NOTE: A DiSC assessment was completed before the session.

Module 1 (1.5 hours) – Diagnosing Trust

TrainSmart has a proprietary trust model that makes this fuzzy concept concrete.

Trust was defined as having two primary dimensions:

Competence – having the proper skills, delivering quality work on time, and being courageous. As a leader, you explore innovative ideas and do the right thing, even if it is hard.

Empathy – having employees’ best interests at heart, being considerate of others when making decisions, and living the company’s values/being truthful with othersBreakout groups rated the organization on each dimension of trust on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the most positive). Consensus from each breakout was then shared with the larger group. Finally, the entire group discussed the patterns of trust (or lack thereof) that emerged.


  • Alignment around a definition of organizational trust
  • Consensus about the state of trust
  • Identification of where to focus leadership actions to halt employee dissatisfaction
  • Creation of a leadership action plan
  • Ownership and accountability for “moving the needle” on organizational trust

Module 2 (1 hour) – Communication Styles

First, TrainSmart described the DiSC behavioral style framework. The goal was to give these leaders a shared understanding of the four DiSC styles and self-select which style feels most like them most often. Instructive videos of each style were shown.

Then, we unpacked the participants’ feedback report. They reviewed their profile page and then decided on their “best fit” style. Each person was given several reflection questions about their communication as a leader.


  • Understanding one’s behavioral style and how one prefers to communicate
  • Diagnosing others’ styles and knowing how to flex in their communication so they are heard and valued by others
  • Identifying situations where they have used an inappropriate style
  • Thinking about what messages the organization needs now and the best communication style to deliver these messages

Module 3 (1 hour)

Real World Scenarios – TrainSmart worked with the client to identify 4 scenarios that regularly occur at the company. Using their new knowledge of DiSC and how to build trust, breakout groups were assigned one scenario. Their task was to diagnose the DiSC styles in the scenario and recommend leader actions that would mitigate that scenario in the future.


  • Heightening awareness of everyday organizational challenges
  • Getting leaders to actively think about their communication style and how to build trust
  • Increasing leader ownership and accountability for nurturing a more positive culture

Module 4 (30 minutes)

Culture Building Action Planning: Each group of leaders was asked, “What now?” TrainSmart facilitated the discussion of the most important one or two cultural challenges to address.


  • Consensus about how leaders should focus their efforts
  • Identification of a “keystone” challenge – a challenge that, if successfully addressed, would have a halo effect on other aspects of trust and the corporate culture
  • Creation of S.M.A.R.T. goals with specific roles and responsibilities for each leader


TrainSmart was able to facilitate a deeper level of honest dialogue and candor with these leaders
Leaders were held strictly accountable for behaving and communicating in a way that better supported a growth mindset and culture.

The workshops energized leaders and showed a path to a better culture that enables business performance. Action plans were implemented, and a new set of culture survey findings is pending.

What participants are saying:

“TrainSmart did a great job of facilitating this very demanding leadership group.”

“We got so much more than we expected from the session.”

“I appreciated other leaders being vulnerable and telling it like it is.”

“I think we can now own that we are the mentors and modelers of what we want the rest of the organization to practice.”