Month: January 2015

The Worth of Trust

Putting a value on trust would be difficult. In fact, if trust could be quantified, it might even be worthless. Why? Because trust is largely intangible, yet valuable, but not in dollars and cents.

If trust could be given a price, then efforts would be made to buy it. In fact, that probably is partly what’s wrong in our society and corporate America. Some believe that trust can be purchased with the right amount of money. Except, whatever can be bought and passed off as trust is not. Trust implies loyalty and conviction that goes much deeper than anything of quantity. If trust is present, those who hold it (from both sides) will enjoy a productive and practical relationship that will do things beyond what either can estimate.

The replacement of lost trust in our society is a key ingredient in the returning of old-fashioned integrity and honesty in business, government and church. I find it in some areas, but far too few. If we keep up our part, we may still see it at the level we need.

Creating Trust

Asking to be trusted is never the way to gain it. It must be earned, often without words. Words can deceive and lead to mistrust when one’s “word” is broken. Too often oratory is impressive, except to those who also look for follow-through and action.

Saying is never a replacement for doing. I knew a man who attempting a gain a reputation based on what he planned to do. He even predicted the effect he would have when the plans were carried out. I saw none of the effect, and soon I no longer saw him. I believe he left town. Speaking along with doing teaches that both must go together, and is effective. If we must eliminate one, I would eliminate speaking. Don’t actions speak louder than words?

So, if you speak, act as quickly as possible so the two will be connected. If you don’t plan to take any action, keep quiet.

Decisions

We make decisions many times daily. Many of them are small ones that simply take us to the next activity, and don’t have a real affect on anything important. Others are a little bigger and affect more than us personally, but overall are still not major.

Some decisions, however, are life-changing. These should never be made purely on emotion, and should be thought out carefully. Doing research and consulting those who we feel have spiritual and intellectual weight are also good things to do prior to one of these decisions. After the mental exercises necessary, then we should check how we feel after making a decision prior to making it official. If we have been stressed, do we now feel more relaxed and at peace with our decision? Can we picture ourselves in a different setting, role, or simply out of our current role? Was the decision made hastily, or did it take some time.

There are times when it may seem to some that a decision was made in haste, but in reality it has been coming into view for some time. Once made, the decision should be followed through, and you should move on, confident that you have done what you needed to do.

When is Trust Present?

We don’t always know whether we are trusted by others, unless we ask. Even then, they could be telling us that just to please us or get along. How can we tell by actions whether we are considered trustworthy? There are some indicators.

When dealing with others, there are basically three levels of actions that give us an indication of how others feel about what we ask them to do. The first and most basic level is compliance. This is simply following the rule, policy or order given, without necessarily agreeing with or liking it. Sometimes this is enough and all we can expect. Yet, we can only expect the minimum at this level.

Next is cooperation. The person is at least somewhat sold on the idea, and will be more “cooperative” and will participate more actively with less grumbling and more verbal support.

The highest level, and one we would hope to achieve, is collaboration. This is total buy-in, and even actively contributing to the project. They will also add to the idea, improving it and even taking ownership of it for you. These people will run with what you begin and take it to the level (or higher) you envisioned.

Trust is in place both ways when collaboration is present, and we know we have been a part of something valuable.

Trust Me?

During my army days, I was fortunate to work with a number of great people, both enlisted and commissioned. Most of them were of courage, integrity and character.

Every once in a while, I would run across an individual who would be vague about how something was to be done, saying, “Trust me, sir.” That statement in its context of vagueness always made me nervous. It felt as if he was saying, “You don’t want to know,” which meant the operation was either illegal or at least unethical.

These people may have seen this as getting the job done, but I saw it otherwise. As another wise non-commissioned officer once told a new soldier, “I run this whole outfit, but he (pointing over his shoulder to my office) is responsible.” He was right. I did have ultimate responsibility, but he made sure all went smoothly. We both knew what he meant, and the fact that he could say so out loud in my hearing, meant we could both trust each other. This kind of understanding is valuable in any organization.

Work

Work defines us in many ways. It shows our skills, abilities, and devotion to our jobs. It also reveals how we feel about our own character.

One of my favorite quotes is from Henry J. Kaiser. “When your work speak for itself, don’t interrupt.” This statement is excellent advice. After all, what else needs to be said when others can judge your work for itself?

If I am unable to describe what I do without attempting to justify it or by trying to build it up, it lacks something. The best indication of our work is what it does for others, or how it contributes to the overall good of the community. If there is any doubt of its worth, perhaps it is not what we think it is.

Do Your Best

When we look around us, we can easily spot the places and people where the “just get by” mode is prevalent. If we can’t spot it, perhaps we are a part of it.

How can anyone with a desire to trust and be trusted not do our best? Is there ever a time or place when we can justify doing the minimum? I can’t think of one. I realize that sometimes our best is not necessarily our most. For example, just because we have a number of medicines or parts for a car doesn’t mean we always have to treat or replace everything. Sometimes indeed, “less is more”.

Whether the task is washing dishes or building skyscrapers, we should put forth our best effort to make the job one to be envied and modeled by others. By approaching life this way, we teach a number of lessons to all who observe. We also help develop habits that will endure for generations to come.

Change, but How Fast?

We are caught up in the fastest change atmosphere anyone can remember. Who can remember a time when we had to read the news daily to anticipate what may affect our work and organizations?

When we feel the pressure to overreact, that is just the time to remember what works; and only make changes that are necessary. Even that must be given thought and consideration, mostly about people.

Our most valuable capital is the human kind. It’s the reason we exist as businesses and service organizations. I admire leaders who will not make cold business decisions without thinking about the effect on co-workers who have put valuable to the organization. Our trust balance will remain high and we will create the atmosphere we need to succeed.

Always Learning

How ready are we to learn something new? The older we get, the more we could face the tendency to decide we know as much as we need, or as much as we can learn.

I don’t believe we ever get to the point that we are unable to put new information to work in our lives. We may consciously decide not to make any changes, which would be truly sad. If we cease to learn, we cease to listen, and when we cease to listen, others cease to talk to us.

The isolation that results from the above process leaves us both alone and ignorant. I do not want either. How about you?

Equality

Sometimes the term “equality” confuses equal treatment with equal ability. While striving to treat everyone equally fair under law or policy, it is impossible to make or treat everyone as if they had equal abilities.

This makes perfect sense to anyone who manages people. In fact, if they were all the same, many jobs would not get done. What’s more, not all peoplr will even desire to do the same job. Not all will want to get the same education, the same training, or work in the same field.

People will want choices. Those who aspire to more responsibilities may be willing to sacrifice such things as family, vacation or personal time to focus on the demands of the job. Others will put more importance on family time and less time at work. To take away the choice of either would be entirely unfair.

To use a phrase from T.S. Eliot, people are not “a manageable herd, but a community of souls.” If we remember this, we will trust more, and gain more trust.