Everyone likes to say they trust their employees but often their processes, management style and policies say otherwise.
For example: When strict policies exist in an organization the argument often is “but what if someone does X and Y?” So to prevent it, a policy is enforced — for everyone. This is basically saying “if one person could take advantage of it, we can’t trust anyone.” They focus on the potential bad apples to define the rules for everyone, including the majority who’s not.
A controlling environment creates a slacking workforce. People will do just what they’re asked to do and not more.
“Why should I work extra hours, if you accrue my vacation days by the decimals?”
If an organization wants to get trust and commitment from their employees, it has to give trust and commitment to their employees. Relationships go both ways.
One area where trust or control manifests itself clearly is how an organization defines their policies. I believe to create a trustworthy environment you need some wiggle room that enables people to make their own decisions. It’s principles to work by, not policies to obey.
If the lawyer tells you that you need to have a policy, all fine. You can still use the cultural principles to enforce the company policies.
The mindspace it takes to distrust someone is crazy. You will manage the person even at times when you don’t, because you will constantly ponder over everything they do and question it.
It also steals time operationally — for example: If you have policies, you will have exceptions to the policies. The time it takes to approve those exceptions and the time that steals from people is not worth it. Trust is simply more efficient.
When people work autonomously and are able to make own decisions they will care more about their work. And when people care, they’re happier and more productive.
When people simply execute what they’re told, commitment and moral goes down and with that critical thinking weakens. Why speak up, if it’s easier to just do.
In turn, when people are responsible for the decisions, they care to do the right thing. They will proactively look for feedback from others and validate their work, because they’re on the hook. They got the trust, and trust comes with responsibility.
Give someone trust and they give you initiative. When trust is the base, the trusted defines the meeting agenda for the check-in, not the manager. The trusted drives forward what comes next and the manager advises.
Leading with trust puts pressure on hiring the right people who you’re able to trust. It’s hard because you will not just judge a person’s skills but also their character.
On the other end, if someone turns out not to be a fit, you will have to pull the plug faster. When you lead with control the solution would be to add more control. If you lead with trust, you can’t just suddenly break your principles and add control, so you have to make the call to split ways.
Mediocre talent needs directors, great talent needs enablers.
A director tells you what to do, an enabler asks for what you need.
If you direct great talent you limit their abilities to what you expect them to do. But the whole benefit of having great talent is that they have the ability to do more than what’s expected.
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