Developing and progressing people – the company’s culture – is always difficult. Humans are complex, unpredictable and emotional. Some are even downright unmanageable. We each have different emotional triggers and ranges in behaviour. Yet, without people – profit, process, and product don’t mean anything. We can’t get them to work without people.
Why people decisions are often problematic is that at its core it involves trusting people to do the right thing. This occurs in the part of the brain that processes emotions, such as trust and loyalty. It has no capacity for language and explaining its decision. It operates subconsciously and only understands emotions. This means when employees trust leaders about a new change, it’s based on feelings. In other words, how they feel about whether leaders will do the right thing by them. The answer to that is determined by past experiences and beliefs. Throw in some risk and uncertainty and that decision can be tricky to predict.
Leader as Coach
The effort of actually checking in with her actually builds more trust. As Stephanie can see that you care about her as a person, not as a productivity tool.
On the other hand, if it’s a relationship that has a history of challenging behaviours – trust reserves are low. When issues pop up, trust drains rapidly. “Damn that Stephanie. She never tells the truth and she’s lazy and bad at her job. She will never improve. It’s time to fire her.”
You can also use the trust battery metaphor for those work relationships that you have forgotten to nurture. Batteries left idle decline over time. It’s the same with relationships. You have to be proactive about charging up trust levels, otherwise, the relationship will lose capacity and power.
The trust battery metaphor also works in and between teams. Using a metaphor approach helps bridge the discussion between harmful behaviours and actions.
Charging Up Trust
Successful organisations rely on dependable working relationships. Followers depend on leaders. Leaders depend on followers. The marketing group depends on manufacturing and so on. A good leader is one who trusts people and whose people trust them in return. This means they know how to make the right decision on who they can depend on to get work done because they know how to talk about the tricky stuff.
Being honest about everyone’s strengths and weaknesses is critical in a high trust culture. Using the trust battery metaphor, helps leaders and employees break down barriers in their communication. It encourages leaders to more readily articulate their expectations and reduce ambiguity. And it helps employees clearly understand how they need to perform.
More importantly, it allows people to talk about trust in a way that doesn’t make the other person feel criticised. It’s actually quite fun and disarming to talk about work relationships – what’s working and what’s not – referencing a battery. It also empowers employees to think more deeply about their behaviours and how they are building trust with those around them.
How are you going to charge up trust levels with those around you?