Back in 2004, I was invited to attend a leadership conference where Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, was speaking. As I listened to him give a talk based on his best-selling book, I was struck by something he said. He told us that the absence of trust is the number one dysfunction found in teams. Honestly, this wasn’t much of a surprise. However, he went on to say that trust is so incredibly valuable in teams (and in relationships in general) that if you’re 80% of the way to having trust on your team but still have a long way to go in the other four areas of dysfunction, you should keep working on building trust before moving on. It’s that important!
A few years later, when I was working on my degree in Organizational Leadership, I remember a professor of mine comparing trust to a bank account. He commented that it’s an account that takes a lot of time and energy to build up, but can be drained in a single moment.
Patrick (we’ve never met but are clearly on a first-name basis) and my professor both acknowledged something that we probably all innately know: trust is the foundation for any good relationship. Looking at it from the other side, show me an example of a bad relationship and I’ll show you a lack of trust!
Okay… so trust is an important value. But, let’s see how this plays out in real world scenarios!
A few years ago, I had a friend who had a salaried, full-time position with an organization just a few minutes away from my house. Through that friend, I came to know and befriend several other full-time, salaried employees of this organization. As I got to know these great people, I took equal amounts of pleasure and pain in hearing them regularly recount the stories of how the company they worked for went out of its way to micromanage them and make sure they knew that they did not trust their employees at all. (Just in case you were wondering, the pleasure was from the group laughter at the sheer ridiculousness of the company’s policies.)
For instance, these salaried, full-time employees, all of whom were working in marketing or other creative departments, had their pay docked if they were even a minute late to work or left even a minute early. Their breaks throughout the day were scheduled down to the minute and one of their breaks had to be a “walking break” where they were partnered up and had to walk around the building for a set period of time. (What?!?!) Nobody was allowed to work off-site or even away from their desks. There were forms for everything and every form needed to be signed by multiple managers. In fact, every task had to be checked and signed off by at least one manager if not more.
My favorite story from this group was when one of my friends ended up working an event on a Sunday. She was told that she could take Monday as a comp day. However, in order to do so, she would need to come in Monday morning, fill out the Paid Time Off form for the compensated hours she was requesting, get it signed and approved by multiple managers and turn it in to HR. In other words, in order to take Monday off, she would have to drive to work Monday morning and spend several hours filling out forms and tracking down the right people to get the approvals she would need before she could take Monday off! I’m pretty sure this is the definition of insanity.
As you can imagine, these employees did not feel trusted and, today, exactly none of them still work there.
Back when I was in college (a long, long time ago cuz, you know… I’m old), I would spend my summers working for my dad’s apparel company. During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, there was a group of six recent college graduates that began working for my dad’s company as well. As I got to know these people, each of them shared with me that they’d taken the job as a temporary option before they figured out what they really wanted to do with their lives.
A year later, after my sophomore year, I returned to find each of those six people still working for my dad. In fact, most of them stayed for the better part of a decade! As I talked with them, I realized why: trust. (Surprised?)
You see, my dad took a completely different approach to running a company than the company from Scenario A did. He believed that these full-time, salaried employees were hired to get a job done. As long as they were doing that, and doing it well, he wasn’t too worried about where or how they were getting it done. He trusted them to do their jobs. Nobody was checking to make sure they were there exactly at 8:30am when the office opened. Nobody was checking to make sure that they didn’t leave before 4:30pm when the office closed. They took their breaks when they needed to and they would occasionally work off-site. As long as everyone was communicating and the work was getting done, he trusted that they could manage their time. Only when someone would take advantage of that trust would the leash get a bit shorter. (Though, generally speaking, those people wouldn’t last very long anyway since they couldn’t be trusted.)
Today, the company from Scenario A is struggling with constant rumors of it collapsing altogether. My dad’s company, on the other hand, continues to grow and has employees that have been with him anywhere from one to thirty years!
I guess the question for you is simple: do you want to work for the company in Scenario A where trust is nonexistent, or for my dad’s company in Scenario B where trust is valued above all? Now, think about your answer to that question and answer this one: where are you working now? Does your organization value trust? What about your personal relationships? Just about every time I’ve grown to resent a personal or professional relationship, I can trace it back to a lack of trust. Don’t let yourself get to that place!
If trust isn’t at the foundation of your personal or professional relationships, it might be #Time2MoveOn!