Cultivating Trust In An Age Of Skepticism
Parr, Christopher, et. al. Trust me, You chose me (Ecademy, Draft Article and Discussion)
While this discussion is still quite fluid, Christopher Parr and those contributing their comments have some excellent insights on trust in business relationships.
Key points with my commentary:
- Not trusting people promotes waste and duplication. When the checker, checks the checker, who checks the checker-- a companies profitability is hurt. Design systems to maintain quality that focus on specific points and can be done at the time of creation. This includes individual skills training, self-checking processes, predefined expectations of performance, and clear team communications.
- People take action according to their perception of trustworthiness. The assumption a manager takes with an employee to perform a task contributes to the expectations that manager has for the individual. It governs the level of assistance provided and how failure is handled. Employees often make errant decisions based on the level they feel trusted to do so.
- Be clear about levels of trustworthiness. If you don't trust someone to do a thing, then let them know the bounds of an assignment. When delegating work, the common assumption is "you have trusted me to get this done, or you wouldn't have assigned it." When you receive a task, always ask about desired outcome so you know the scope to which you will be judged.
- Trust is a culture developed by people in a process. Often trust become a cultural issue of a company or social group. This is usually based on the experiences of this group of a collection of individuals. This kind of trust can only be changed by an open evaluation of practices and procedures that acknowledges where limitations in trust harm the organization. Trust levels will change over-time as the culture adjusts to peoples actions.
- Layers of management isn't a substitute for self checking practice. When people do things right, you don't need managers to monitor every step of a process. As communications improved companies organized in a flatter management structure, a single individual could manage a larger group with more efficiency. However, as more processes are developed that check their own results, we can expect smaller groups to accomplish more without supervision. (Like subcontractor relationships which produce a defined result with only a single point of contact at the prime contractor.)
- Trust between individuals is balanced by past performance. Action (or lack thereof) is the biggest contributor of trust between two parties. How you perform balances the amount of trust another individual will have in you, as this level of trust changes so does your ability to work more independently. A particular balance must be achieved to produce the expectations desired by each group while producing a quality end product.
- Communications between groups contributes to the level of trust. When we don't share what is expected of people, then people often let us down. At the point of assigning a task be sure to clearly share your expectations and verify the other party understands was is requested, is comfortable with those accomplishments, and is open to feedback that focuses the desired outcome. Never assume someone can do something, always verify a parties comfort level by asking questions.
- Perceptions of trust between groups contribute to their ability to work together. If you feel someone doesn't trust you to get a task done, you will work in accordance to that belief. This might mean you'll over report, defer decisions, seek the easiest route, or even under perform within your own skills. Be clear about your expectations, level of trust, and document performance objectives. (Buy-in is also important here.)
- When you make decisions, don't second guess yourself. Often we question the decisions of employees, without understanding our responsibility for bringing them on board. Choose people who can work independently and are qualified to produce the results you desire. By trusting employees abilities, you'll save yourself time and effort.
- The more people involved, the more trust is diluted. A single person working by ones self has a certain level of trust in their own abilities, but when you introduce additional people, understand you introduce uncertainty. This uncertainty comes from one individual not understanding the skills of another. Start all projects with a assessment of each individuals strengths and weaknesses as they see them, everyone should know who can do what.
- Failure isn't necessarily an indicator that an individual can't be trusted. When someone tries and fails to accomplish a task, it doesn't mean the individual can't be trusted-- it means more the individual doesn't have skills to do this specific task or other factors contributed to the failure. Look at the amount of effort that was taken in the desired direction, perhaps they were just ruling out something that didn't work.
- Good initial selection improves objective trust. When you take time to hire good people, it makes it easier to trust individuals abilities. When you take time to try peoples performance over time, you can build a level of understanding their abilities that contributes to trust in the relationship. However, don't cage someone into your expectation of their performance, allow them to fail. (People who are not failing some of the time aren't trying hard enough most of the time.)
- Standards of trust are different by role of performance. The way you trust employees, independent contractors, customers, or even yourself is based on the role that individual. Trust can be oriented toward groups, individuals, processes, and is often representational of some objects consistency.
- Our actions determine the level of trust others can place in us. While most interactions come with a preset level of trust, our actions and how we handle situations contributes to how other people trust us. If we are trustworthy (i.e. consistent, focused, good communications...) then we earn trust with the other party quickly. While this can be a complex issue, I'll cover other elements of trust in another article.
/ earning-trust | employee-relations /
By Justin Hitt at August 3, 2003 2:29 AM
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