Some time ago I was lucky enough to be part of a workshop run by Laurence Wood, discussing this issue of trust with some senior executives. I’ve always been struck by Laurence’s thoughtfulness and his deep concern for people’s needs, and despite that—or perhaps because of it—I was slightly wary. The audience was a group of very busy people, under signficant pressure to get things done, and I worried that they wouldn’t engage with a subject as fluffy as “trust”.
Of course, I needn’t have worried. The exercises and discussion centred on making the link between the actions people take and how we trust them. In particular, the link between delivery and trust. If a team didn’t deliver what we expected, how much would we trust them? What if they delivered after a long period? What if they delivered less, but more frequently? What if they were successful at delivery most of the time, but suddenly had a blip? And so on. Then there were questions about how we might change things to facilitate an environment that resulted in more trust. What could we do to help create the delivery environment we wanted?
Nebulous concepts like trust are really grounded in tangible activities. As I saw from Laurence that day, when we’re dealing with delivery teams then trust comes from their ability to deliver—and of course our part in helping them do that. Generating, or even rebuilding, trust is a two-way process.