I’m writing to share an observation: the people around us — our customers, reports, coworkers and bosses — pay attention. Especially in the workplace, those around us tune in not just to the things we say and do, but also to our motives (whether stated or implied) behind our actions. They want to know that we can be trusted and that they can trust us with their best interests.
Trust makes good neighbors.
Even up here in staid northern New England, the average Joe and Josephine have their personal antennae up almost all the time.
My ER doctor-friend, for example, was closing on the purchase of 100-acres atop a hillside in Vermont when rumor had it his commute to the hospital (two hours by car) was to be by helicopter. Without a word, the town council placed a no-helipad restriction on his deed (so for kicks I occasionally threaten to put a windsock up there while he’s away on vacation). There had been no plan for a propeller-commute, and, had either party taken the time to build trust, the town council could have avoided embarrassing themselves.
Speaking of antennae, one night in our small town, a patrol car pulled me over for a burned out tail light. The next morning all the police scanner owners in my shop ribbed about my reckless driving, but I digress.
Trust gets things done.
I wonder, are many managers are aware of this? After all, people tend to hide their feelings pretty well. It may be that in many cases management is so overwhelmed with handling the big issues that they forget the importance of building their credibility and trustworthiness among their subordinates.
Invariably, those managers (well, I suppose we have all committed this offense) try using their positional power as a shortcut to some quick win, and what happens?
The same managers are struck suddenly by their subordinates’ apparent resistance to change. Workers who previously merited high praise now are regarded as stubborn and lazy. Frustration sets in. Pretty soon, the supervisor concludes that the staff aren’t listening, can’t learn, or worse, they have innate incapacity to self-actualize (see Maslov’s Pyramid).
Truth is, when people are behind you all the way, they will walk on hot coals to get the job done, whatever it takes. But when we have no trust for those in command, and no confidence in the mission, we drag our feet.