General management

Give trust… and guidance

Photo by James JordanMany organisations I work with talk about the importance of trust. In particular there’s a general desire to trust teams to get on with the job. The benefits are clear: the team feels empowered and therefore more responsible and committed to its outcomes, and the manager giving the trust is freed up from continuously overseeing and correcting the team’s work.

But giving trust is difficult, and not just because some see it as a loss of control. It’s also difficult because to give trust and achieve a positive outcome additionally requires giving effective guidance as to what is expected. If a team is to take that trust and use it to produce a satisfactory outcome then they need to know what they are aiming for, and what parameters they need to work within, but should not be given so many constraints as to limit their creativity and feeling of ownership. It’s also important to ensure the guidance we give is good for as long as we want that trust to last, otherwise we will be forced to step in prematurely and change their direction, robbing them of their ownership,

This in turn means that when we give trust we have to be very clear in ourselves what Good looks like, and separate the successful outcome from the particular way in which we would achieve it if we were doing it. Thinking through this is often challenging; articulating it clearly is challenging again. And this is all before we step away and let the team get on with things, suppressing our own natural desire to step in and take control.

All of this makes giving trust doubly difficult. But the benefits are significant.

Photo by James Jordan

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