“low trust cultures have lower productivity, more defective products, more rework and more toxic politics” Stephen Covey
You just know this makes sense. If you’re not convinced, look at this video of Dr Covey explaining what he means, better still just close your eyes and listen to him speak. His voice is incredibly reassuring.
Much to my despair I keep meeting people who just don’t get the idea. You might get halfway recognition that trusting people might be a good idea, but then they say…. “ah, there’s always the bad apple, so I’m afraid these rules must apply to you all…….”(arrghhh!). It’s amazing how often this logic is used as a justification for preventing the use of social media in the workplace.
So, just to help some of the ‘legislators’ and ‘enforcers’ understand, I’m going to try to
express things in the lowest common denominator – MONEY! (Hopefully that’s grabbed their attention).
- Transactions cost more. Every transaction costs money, your time and the time of the person you transact with. If for example, this is drafting a letter, checking that letter before signing has a cost. If you amend the letter, send it back for corrections, and check it again before signing that probably doubles your costs. Think about how much additional costs you add by checking every letter, report, memo, business case etc, several times before it finally gets out of the door? Surely it’s better to trust people to do the right thing in the first instance.
- Knowledge isn’t shared. “Knowledge can only be volunteered; it can’t be conscripted.” This is one of basic principles of knowledge exchange explained by Dave Snowden. Trusting someone with the knowledge you hold is a key decision you make when deciding if you are going to volunteer it. If there is low trust people are less likely to share knowledge. The extra cost associated with this relate to duplication of effort and cost avoidance where you are ‘reinventing the wheel’.
- Innovation doesn’t happen. A key feature of innovation is trying, failing, learning
the lessons and moving on. Low trust environments and a fear of failure tend to
go hand in hand. If you cannot trust the people around you, it will be difficult to be open about the failures and lessons learn as part of innovation. In cost terms, the organisation fails to find and implement the innovation that will make it more effective.
- Toxic Politics. At the lowest level emails copied to third parties (particularly
the recipient’s boss) are an example of low trust. The time spent reading them,
or even just deleting them has a cost. At the extreme toxic politics can manifest themselves as: bullying and harassment cases; grievances or even industrial tribunals. The legal costs in these situations can be phenomenal. Analysis of the real cost of toxic politics in many organisations would be a real eye opener.
Just in case I haven’t made the case for trust, here are a few quotes to hammer home the message:
Henry L. Stimson “the only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him”
Robert C. Solomon “trust opens up new and unimagined possibilities” and “trust is a skill learned over time, like a well trained athlete, one makes the right moves, usually without much reflection”
Cardinal de Retz “a man who doesn’t trust himself can never really trust anyone else”
So, what’s the PONT?
- Trust does have an impact on the bottom line.
- Low trust does cost you money.
- Building trust is all down to you. Like Gandhi says “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Picture Source: https://www.stephencovey.com/about/about.php