Today’s blog was written by guest blogger, David Carroll, Consulting Partner with the Ken Blanchard Companies and President of Carroll and Associates. David also writes for his own blog, Leadership Manager.
Organizations today are constantly undergoing change in order to stay competitive. These changes demand flexibility, fluidity, and innovation as well as a high priority on being “people-focused.” Customers and employees both must feel that the organization cares passionately about them. This only happens when organizations, and the organizations’ leaders, are trusted. All relationships, personal and professional, are based upon trust. However, trust means different things to different people. It is difficult to define what an environment of trust looks like…in fact it is easier to describe what a distrustful environment looks like: people withhold facts and information; managers set convoluted goals; management is not available; people talk behind each others’ backs. The list goes on and on.
I recently heard a frustrating story of a real-life situation that left an employee feeling demoralized and undervalued. The experience significantly diminished the level of trust he had with his manager. The experience began when an, the employee responsible for reviewing inquiries and sending proposals received an e-mail from a client about a project. The employee spent several hours researching and assessing the difficulty of the proposed project. He then followed-up with an email to the client asking additional questions to clarify any current work being done relative to the project. The client had very little information but was clearly very frustrated with the lack of progress on receiving a proposal. The employee notified his manager that due to the level of difficulty and the lack of clarity on the project that he recommended that the project should not be accepted. Although the employee attempted to explain the supporting evidence for his decision, the manager responded that the employee had not spent enough time researching the project and that he would do the research himself. The manager took two days to research the project and forwarded the research data to the employee late in the evening on the day before a scheduled call with the client. During the call, the client struggled to answer any questions brought up by the manager or employee and was unsure on what approach should be taken to resolve the issue. The client then asked if the organization would be willing to send a proposal and take on this project. The manager eventually agreed to accept the work and send a proposal…against the recommendation of the employee. The manager told the employee to generate a proposal that included a quote for a two weeks feasibility study. The feasibility study gave the agency a reason to back out of the project if it proved to be too difficult. The manager told the employee to tell the client that the agency couldn’t start work for at least a couple of weeks…hoping that the client would find somebody else to work on it. The employee reluctantly did was he was instructed. The feasibility study was conducted and it was determined that the project was beyond existing technology to complete.
How often do situations like this occur? Unfortunately, more often than some would like to admit. Events like this result in wasted time, energy, productivity, and trust. Some managers may say they want to build an empowered work force, but get in the way of their own best intentions. So how can they create an environment of trust…one that fosters empowerment? They must demonstrate trust for their staff and be trustworthy themselves. Blanchard’s Building Trust program illustrates for us what a trustful environment looks like by teaching us exactly which behaviors build trust using the ABCD Model. The model guides individuals to identify aspects of their relationships that need repair, as in the example above, or need to be further nurtured in order to build and maintain trust.
Are you currently experiencing a lack of trust with one of your co-workers, managers, or direct reports? Learn how you can utilize the ABCD Trust Model within your agency.