Hamilton Making the EXCEPTIONAL Normal Part 4 - The Trust Factor
Author: Dale Furtwengler
The Trust Factor
One of the key ingredients to productivity gains is trust. Answer the following questions and you will get a sense for how expensive distrust is.
How do you react to people you don't trust? Avoidance? "I won't deal with anyone I can't trust!" What if you don't have a choice? What if that person is your boss or a colleague? Most of us have fantasized about firing such a person, but we know that will never happen. So what do you do? You find ways to protect yourself.
You include others in your meetings to witness the events. If you can't justify a meeting you discuss issues and concepts with others before you communicate with the person whose approval you need. "I just wanted to bounce this idea off you before I go to the boss" can mean "I want to make sure that someone else knows that this is my idea, not the boss's".
You spend countless hours trying to determine how the distrusted person is going to hurt you, then you spend even more time trying to make certain that he or she doesn't. The productivity loss is huge.
Exceptional results cannot be sustained in an environment marked by distrust. Employees cannot simultaneously devote time and energy to protecting themselves and increasing productivity. It isn't physically possible. This truth leads to two obvious questions, "How do I gain my employees' trust?" and "What is it that they must trust?".
HOW DO I GAIN THEIR TRUST?
The way to gain anyone's trust is simply to be honest in all of your dealings with them. Very simply that translates into:
- don't say what you don't believe (integrity)
- don't promise what you can't deliver (promises)
Integrity - If you say things that you don't believe, the lack of enthusiasm in your voice, the hesitation in your speech, the failure to make eye contact and numerous other body language messages will override your words.
Anytime the listener senses that you are lying to them or withholding parts of the truth you have lost. You've lost their respect, confidence, trust, support and effort. These are heavy prices to pay. What makes these penalties even more severe is that you may never be able to recoup their trust. The old adage, "it takes a lifetime to develop a good reputation, two seconds to lose it" demonstrates the magnitude of the risk you take when you aren't honest in all of our dealings.
Promises - "We live in a reciprocal world", "You reap what you sow", and "What goes around comes around" all apply to promises. If you honor your commitments to others they are more inclined to honor theirs to you. Failure to keep your promises invites them to keep theirs only when it is convenient for them.
Exceptional performance cannot be achieved without your employees' commitment to the goals and priorities they helped establish. If you want them to live up to these commitments, you must honor yours.
Before we leave the topic of promises I want you to realize that making a promise isn't the same as guaranteeing results. If you aren't certain that you can deliver the result, you can still promise to try. Let's see how I employed "the promise to try" to prevent a mutiny.
Do you remember the mortgage-banking example where sixteen people were each working ten hours of overtime per week?
I quickly discovered that most of the overtime was being worked simply because the people wanted the extra income. I knew that if I just eliminated all the overtime and didn't offer them something in return I was likely to have a mutiny on my hands. The mutiny would come in one of two forms. Either I would trigger a mass exodus (which would cost me my job) or they would stay and look for ways to prove me an inept manager (which would also cost me my job).
To further complicate matters, I didn't have the authority to increase salaries. In order to get anyone a raise, three things had to occur:
- the supervisor (me) had to provide a solid recommendation
- the department had to have an adequate budget to cover the increases
- a majority of the personnel committee had to vote for the increase
What I offered was a promise to try to get their salaries to the level they were getting with overtime. I explained that in order for me to have any chance of success they were going to have to provide me with ammunition to take to the personnel committee. Ammunition would have to take the form of exceptional results; something I could point to as having real value to support my request for higher salaries.
I could not promise them raises, but I could promise to try. I repeatedly made this distinction so that everyone understood I was being honest about what I could do. This honesty, coupled with all of the other elements of the Making the Exceptional Normal system enabled us to exceed the aggressive goals we had set.
We achieved our goals despite the loss of four full-time employees. The salary savings from these four employees gave me the budget necessary to provide the desired increases AND provide a net saving to the company. As you might imagine, the personnel committee was easily persuaded to approve salary increases for my staff.
People know when you are being honest with them. These folks knew that I couldn't promise them raises. If I had been foolish enough to make such a promise they wouldn't have believed me. Their commitment to our goals, if given at all, would have been as hollow as my promise of raises. This experience provides compelling evidence for the power of trust and its necessity for producing exceptional results.
WHAT IS IT THAT THEY MUST TRUST?
Do honesty and promise keeping represent all that our employees expect from us to gain and hold their trust? Are there other behaviors they require before they fully trust us? The answers lie in your own experiences. How was your trust affected when someone:
- spoke of your inadequacies to your colleagues
- criticized you publicly
- postponed discussions about your behavior or performance until a major problem arose
- withheld information critical to your success
- came across as a "know-it-all"
- demeaned your skills or experience
- gave others preferential treatment
- took credit for your work
I doubt that many of you would be willing to place much trust in that person again. Your employees' trust is dependent upon your ability to demonstrate that you:
- have their best interest at heart
- strive to help them become more successful
- listen to their concerns and help them deal with those concerns
- initially view all problems as system problems, not performance problems
- frame criticism in the context of personal improvement
- keep discussions about inappropriate behavior and poor performance private
- are open and receptive to their ideas
- recognize that you don't always have the best solution
- admit when you are wrong
- recognize them for a job well done
- thank them for their efforts
First and foremost, be genuine in these attitudes and beliefs. If your employees ever get the feeling that your efforts are designed to manipulate them or that you really aren't as concerned about them as you are the results, they will withdraw their trust and prevent the results you desire. If you want EXCEPTIONAL results, gain your employees' trust by being genuinely interested in their welfare. It worked for Dick Vermeil, head coach of the World Champion St. Louis Rams.
Copyright © 2000, Dale Furtwengler, all rights reserved
About the Author:
Dale Furtwengler is a professional speaker, internationally-acclaimed author and a business consultant who uses counter-intuitive thinking to help his clients increase profits without adding resources. For more information on how counter-intuitive thinking can work for you visit www.furtwengler.com/theinvaluableleader/. For business leaders who would like to get higher prices for their products and services visit www.pricingforprofitbook.com/.
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