Trust or rust – the final factor of feeling in 2014…?

Les Morgan“Financial (or organisational) success comes from success in the marketplace, and success in the marketplace comes from success in the workplace. Success in the workplace comes from successful relationships, from boardroom to boardwalk, from planning to production, from strategy to service, and from deal to delivery. The heart and soul of such success, is TRUST.

Trust has moved well beyond the age-old assumption that it is merely a soft, social virtue and is now centre-stage, demonstrating that it is a hard-edged, economic driver – a learnable and measurable skill that makes organisations more profitable (private sector) / effective (public and third sector).

Trust is far too serious, significant and perennial to be viewed as a ‘fad’ or simply a passing issue, yet for all its importance, there is relatively little discussion of how we can build, develop and measure trust. So the challenging question here is, do you even talk about it, let alone measure the one thing that will give you a more competitive advantage or sustainability than everything else put together?

Think about having a car, planning the journey (route, time, petrol, water, tyres, brakes, etc.) and not checking the one thing that you rarely see and yet you MUST have, to the right level, to make everything else work – the oil! The one crucial ingredient that lubricates and connects all the expensive and complex parts, enabling the engine to do its job and drive the car….to get you to your destination!

Trust and emotions are for me, the true, almost invisible ‘hard facts’ that crucially ‘lubricate’ (or slow down, damage or even destroy), any sustainable business in any of the three market sectors. It is the EQ excellence, at the heart of any speed and innovation – engagement and enthusiasm – as it is what is truly real to your staff – their feelings (EQ), not any hierarchically, managerially created organisational numbers (IQ).

The question is, ‘Do we ensure that we have this essential lubricant of trust in our organisations, or even check the levels of the one thing that will give more competitive advantage or sustainability than everything else put together?’

If you have trust, the often reactive IQ interventionist processes, like IIP, EFQM, ISO 9000, Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma will be unnecessary, as they mostly do the same traditional management stuff, to continually set IQ driven ‘surface’ objectives, with a workforce that may be disengaged with a management team that you, or they, may not even trust! (See W L Gore as the overall Sunday Times No 1 Company To Work For since 2004 – no IQ systems needed there).

“If the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way.” This Chinese saying, unfortunately, only too true, stands in sharp contrast to our belief in the ‘right’ method irrespective of the man who applies it. “In reality, everything depends upon the man and little or nothing on the method” Carl Jung

The EQ aspects are, I believe, the actual ‘hard facts’ of today’s organisational world, not the easy IQ numbers management teams are so focussed on! Such narrow and brittle numbers only ever emanate and emerge from how engaged your senior team and workforce actually are.

The fact that EQ stuff is actually ‘hard’ to measure, is of course why almost all organisations avoid the challenge (to check their oil level) and thus fail to energise, embrace and engage their workforce for the journey ahead. It is also why H.R. is unfortunately all about Human Resources (IQ – ‘use of’) and not as it should be, all about Human Relations (EQ – ‘involvement of’).

This all leads to the true costs of an organisation with low levels of trust………..

Higher staff turnover Lower morale
Higher advertising & interviewing costsLower acceptance and speed to change
Higher training costs
Lower creativity
Higher lost knowledgeLower job applications from true talent
Higher absenteeism costs
Lower work effectiveness & continuity
Higher sickness costs
Lower fun and enthusiasm
Higher dis-engagement rates due to continual crisis managementLower speed to market (crucial in today's internet workplace)
Higher bureaucracy & micromanagementLower engagement
Highly dysfunctional relationships (them & us)
Lower turnouts at open events
Higher HR, tribunal & compensation costsLower profits

How do we move towards trust?

Firstly, become self- aware of your levels of trust with a) yourself (do you do what you say you will do?) b) your top team (measure it now) c) your Board d) your workforce e) your customers.

In my experience working with any Board or senior team, measuring the trust levels to start with is key – otherwise what is actually true in anything they say? This can be done, either openly (if they are mature and really ready for change) or by having them write down and thus become aware of their interpersonal trust scores, without the initial discomfort of making them overt. The team can then be helped in the courageous step to look at the real ‘hard facts’. Some may at this point have chosen to leave – such openness and authenticity of a challenging and trusting organisation is not for everyone and that’s OK.

Let’s ‘feel’ that reality now! With pen and paper to hand write down the names of your closest colleagues, whatever level you are at in the organisation, with 10 being complete trust and 0 being complete mistrust – and without thinking, as your subconscious already knows all these scores, write down the first number that comes into your mind when you think of the name you are looking at.

So…….how does that look – or more importantly – how does that feel…….?

Now just as importantly and with that new knowledge and self awareness, how are you going to address what is now your new reality? This is where an external facilitator can, oil the wheels of change, with authentic and challenging communications, to finally align your team to achieve high speed and high ongoing performance, as well as greater enjoyment.

Exploring trust is the one thing that will change everything in improving our engagement, effectiveness and enjoyment, in the world where we work, rest and play.

Businesses do not do business with other businesses – people do business with each other. Feelings (EQ) are far more important (and real) than the superficial facts (IQ).

“You can have all the facts and figures, all the supporting evidence, all the endorsements that you want, but if you don’t command trust, you won’t get anywhere.”
Niall Fitzgerald, former chairman, Unilever

You can use the tables on the next page to see where your organisation is on the trust index.

1 Comment on Trust or rust – the final factor of feeling in 2014…?

  1. It’s great to have trust in the workplace considered in this way. You are right that we do not think about it enough and the impact that it has on us, not just in the workplace. Essentially if we do not trust it is unlikely that we can have a meaningful relationship either personal or professional.

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