Triggering Trust and Engagement through Anonymity and Action

May 28, 2021



Triggering Trust and Engagement through Anonymity and Action

Triggering Trust and Engagement through Anonymity and Action

Paul Reid is the CEO and Founder of Trickle and a serial entrepreneur. He shares how his early employment experiences taught him to build trust-based, thriving cultures at his first two start-ups. Now, these learnings have been encoded into the software that powers his latest venture, Trickle. Trust—which is key for employee engagement, effective communication, and collaboration—is generally earned, slowly. However, Paul explains how to generate trusting relationships more quickly through a purposeful combination of anonymity and action, supplemented by transparency.


[04:00] Paul’s first work experience at a tech start-up and the work conditions for employees.

[06:05] How Paul tried to solve employees’ issues by sharing anonymous data.

[07:18] The surprising response he got from the company’s founders.

[08:34] The recurring process established to fix the problems and its impact on the culture.

[10:12] How important was the co-founders’ role in the process?

[11:15] Paul’s first venture—a tech start-up that focused on feedback and open discussion to create a high-performance culture.

[13:15] Recruiting software engineers and then setting them free to do the right thing.

[14:22] As a business scales up, how trust can be sustained.

[15:09] The ‘Broken Windows’ criminology study of derelict buildings and what it signals.

[17:00] The benefit of Trickle’s internal ‘broken window sessions’.

[18:25] How do you ‘trigger’ trust in a company, enabling it to build quickly?

[19:00] Psychological safety is a huge component of a highly-functioning team. How do you cultivate that? People feel they can speak up without fear of negative consequences.

[20:18] Why Trickle doesn’t record anything if someone wants to contribute anonymously.

[21:14] Action must follow quickly after listening to employees. If you survey employees, it is important to show them progress is being made based on their feedback.

[22:01] Trickle’s effectiveness is based on tying engagement to the actual issues.

[22:58] Why Trickle focuses on introducing three things: inclusivity, transparency, and agility.

[23:25] As trust builds within an organization, many employees start to feel comfortable enough to submit feedback without being anonymous.

[25:05] How champions spend five minutes a day to support habit-forming.

[27:19] Due to the pandemic, people were afraid to ask doctors how they were doing, so Trickle added a feature to check in with them and gathered insights to help improve their well-being.

[31:20] How Trickle helps nudge people to establish new habits—e.g. sending a fist-bump!

[32:35] Why the sign of a healthy organization is engagement with a rolling cadence responding to issues of interest to talk about.

[33:45] The three stages of check-ins to engage employees feedback on key issues.

[35:16] What will happen when people go back into the office and how can Trickle help?

[36:23] How transparency is always a key theme for Trickle.

[36:51] Why not to fear anonymity – it helps more people engage in and contribute on key issues.

[37:47] The hybrid model that Paul anticipates for Trickle going forward and why.

[38:58] What is Paul’s onboarding process like, especially sharing the company’s culture?

[41:52] How Paul helps employees speak up during uncertain times and Trickle shares targeted mental health advice responding to anonymous check-ins.

[43:51] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Don’t get hung up on how to respond to employee feedback. Gather the data so you can understand how people feel. Without that, you can't create the environments that people are going to thrive in.


“You’re here because you’re very talented and you’ve got a desire to get things done and we’ve got a desire to be the best at what we do, and in order to do that, we are going to need to challenge each other.”

“The premise of Trickle is about helping people to speak up within an organization. So, we built it because we know that people don't often speak up about things that they care about.”

“When Google studied their highest-performing teams, what was the thing they had in common? Psychological safety. The ability to speak up without fear of negative consequences.”

“People don’t often see the value in speaking out, because they feel that things don’t change.”

“The idea is to tie the engagement and the action into one thread.”

“You’re trying to embed this openness.”

“When there's massive uncertainty, that’s when you want to be giving people a chance to speak up and get feedback.”

“If you don’t understand how people feel, you can’t create the environments that people are going to thrive in.”

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