Career Advice

5 Ways Trust Impacts Your Productivity In The Office

Published in Inc January 8, 2015

So you want to create something fabulous and new. You want to innovate and
create a breakthrough no one has thought of before. Well, you probably
have a list of ingredients you need: a few computers, some smart people,
project funding… but there is one critical ingredient you need which
can’t be measured but will have a huge impact on your success. That
ingredient is Trust.

Trust allows your team to
move fast, fail fast and create. It’s a simple but true fact so often
neglected inside companies. Two simple issues that can be an advantage
in a culture of trust and a huge liability in a culture of politics and
mistrust: 1) how long it takes to make a decision 2) the quality and
stickiness of the decision.

1. In Development.
Think about agile development for example. One of the 12 key principles
to be mindful of is, “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give
them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job
done”. If managers don’t trust the technical team to get it right they
will slow down the development process and inject themselves into
decisions that need to be made by the engineers, often resulting is
lower quality decisions, or decisions that get made and then unmade.
Begin by hiring great people and most importantly trust them.

2. In Planning.
How often do executives posture in the annual financial planning
process and ask for more resources than they need, on the premise it’s a
political negotiation? Blustering, ego-driven demands! If, instead, you
have a team who truly trust each other then the dynamic will be quite
different. Team members will have the freedom to advocate for projects
and priorities, regardless of who gets the resources to get the project
done. Too many times I’ve seen people equate headcount and budget with
success–but in a trust based environment the focus is on the team’s end
result, regardless of where each person sits in the organization.

3. In Hiring.
As your team beings to grow, the talent you hire will have the single
greatest impact on your potential for success. The hiring decision needs
to be open, transparent and filled with honest assessment -setting up
an initial hiring process that counts on trust. An example of this
process can include: a hiring manager assigns an interviewing team,
everyone meets the candidate and then the team assembles for a “round
table.” At the round table everyone is required to express their
opinions is an open, constructive way, but maintaining the premise that
all input is OK, both good and bad. The process moves more efficiently
towards productive results due to trust from the hiring manager truly
wanting the team’s input, and that the team working towards getting the
manager to the best decision. Without trust, you see posturing, cronyism
and manipulation of the process. Unfortunately, I’ve worked in
companies where senior executives bring in friends with no interviewing
process whatsoever. Now that’s a recipe for others to trust–not!

4. In Time.
While running a young, growing company or a highly innovative team you
will most likely be making hundreds of decisions a day. Risky decisions
with limited input. And truthfully you know you won’t get them all right
(although you do have to get the majority right). If you are working
with a team who you trust, and who trust you, you can move that decision
process quicker. You can be transparent, share your thought process and
quickly poll for advice. When you make a mistake, your team has your
back. In a political environment where information is power, decisions
take much longer because it’s not shared so openly. In a nutshell, trust
allows a team to identify problems quickly and without fear–no
baggage, no personal positioning. It’s incredibly efficient.
Trust takes time to build, which is why people who work well together often stay together from company to company.

5. In Fun.
Unless you are a master manipulator and play office politics for sport,
teams that trust one another are just more fun to work in. Having that
professional comfort allows for more laughter, more shared wins and more
support when the going is tough. Given how much time you are going to
spend working with one another, why not invest the time and effort to
build trust so that work is fun?

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