How Much Trust is Enough, or Too Much?

How Much Trust is Enough, or Too Much?

Conceptual image - success of teamwork. Objects isolated over white
Conceptual image – success of teamwork. Objects isolated over white

A lot of manager’s give lip service to trusting employees as if it is some silver bullet that makes people want to do their best without considering human nature overall. While the ideal is that we will trust all our people, the truth is that some people earn that trust while others don’t.

It is easy to just say you trust your people and then turn a blind eye to the ones who are abusing the privileges given to them in the work place. But is that the right thing to do? We all want to create positive, engaged, and enjoyable work places, but we are after all running businesses, and the goal of a business is to make money. If you have people who are not completely engaged and are taking advantage of your good nature, then you are not serving the business.

This isn’t to say we put money above people, but merely to say that just like profit is earned, so too is trust earned. Before we can give our people freedom and responsibility they have to earn our trust and respect, just as managers have to earn the trust and respect of their people.

A manager who tries too hard to forgive people no matter what they do, or allows employees to bend the rules, is no better than the parent who fails to discipline their child. Sooner or later society, or in this case your boss, will take it into their own hands and when that happens the neglectful manager will not like the results.

Like the parent, the best way that managers and supervisors can serve their people is by communicating clear expectations, expected outcomes, and consequences for success and failure. These offer cues to the employees as to which actions are rewarded and which punished with the ultimate goal being the success of both the individual and ultimately the entire company.

Success and failure for a company are tied to the success and failure of each individual in the company. And while one person’s actions may not bring down a company, collectively a number of individuals actions can, and when you allow one person to get away with negative actions it will lead to others believing these actions to be acceptable and encourage them to do the same.

A manager has to balance doing what is right for the individuals he/she leads as well as the interest of the company. A good manager will identify where the individual’s interests and the company’s interests meet and manage to obtain that sweet spot of shared interest.

Learn to care for you people, your company, and yourself. Show respect by being honest, straightforward, and consistent. Engage and challenge the people you lead and hold them to high standards but be patient and fair with them. Leading people is not easy, and is often a balancing act, but when done right the rewards are worth the effort.

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