The A, B, C’s and D’s of Trust

We’ve all heard the saying that “People don’t leave companies–they leave people.” In fact, research even shows that the primary reason people leave a company is due to lack of trust in their relationship with a manager or supervisor. So, if solid relationships are an essential factor in the ability to retain the best and brightest talent we have, then it makes sense that leaders must have strong, effective skills to build trust in today’s workplace.

In a recent study conducted by Watson Wyatt WorkUSA, it was found that only 39% of employees at U.S. companies say they actually trust the senior leaders. While pay and benefits sometimes surface as motivation for leaving an organization, the primary factor affecting turnover is whether or not a manager developed a trusting relationship with the employee.

When we consider the economic impact of the issue, it becomes apparent that a lack of trust at work is costing companies dearly – as evidenced by reduced productivity, inefficient or excessive work procedures in teams, decisions being questioned or second guessed, and a reduction in creativity and commitment. We also need to consider the costs of attracting, hiring and onboarding replacement employees.

In our training sessions, we discuss the Trust Works model from The Ken Blanchard Companies as a vehicle for building and maintaining trust within your workplace. This model includes four essential elements. We call these the “A, B, C’s and D’s of Trust.”

First, it’s important to see if the leader has strong competency skills or is “Able” to be effective. This is measured by expertise – the skills, experience and knowledge to get the job done. Also, if leaders are able to get performance results and if they are achieving their goals consistently. Finally, do they have facilitation skills – or what we call problem-solving and decision-making abilities – to effectively make choices to move results forward?

Believability,” or acting with integrity – the essence of a person is another element that is essential in any trustworthy relationship. When someone is believable, they exhibit honesty — admitting when they are wrong, keeping confidences, and making ethical decisions. They also have an established value system by which they work and live. As leaders, do they treat people equitably and ethically? It’s often said that a person’s perception is their reality. Employees need to feel there is a fair process in their workplace environment.

If a leader is truly to be effective in their role, they need to be “Connected” with the individuals on their team. Do they have people focus – where they enjoy working with their employees, respecting individual differences, and building personal rapport? How are their communication skills? Are they receptive to feedback? Do they listen well and utilize input from others? Finally, how well do they recognize their employees? Are they intentional about praising the contributions of their team members and celebrating the successes of their employees?

The last element of a trusting relationship between a leader and their employee is the ability to be “Dependable” and maintain reliability. A leader can do this by consistently following through on their commitments, holding themselves and others accountable, and organizing effective systems in place to implement work processes.

The greatest gift that leaders can give to our employees is the gift of our time. By being intentional in our communication and working toward these four elements of trust: Able, Believable, Connected and Dependable, we will build a foundation that is strong and lasting.



April: A Time To Review More Than Your Taxes

The dreaded April 15th tax deadline has passed. This date is something that virtually everyone remembers because of the consequences that can result if it isn’t met. I’d like to offer another way of thinking about this date. Why not use it as your time to review and see how you are doing on the goals you have established for the year? Too often we set goals, write them down, or maybe even design a really nice visual of what the future will look like if they are accomplished. Unfortunately, these documents are often filed away in a drawer or on your computer, only to be pulled out at the end of the year to see if they have materialized.

Great leaders and organizations understand the importance of periodically touching base on goals to see if things are being accomplished. If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, who will?

Here are a few other analogies to tax time that we can consider in our professional lives:

  • Policies and processes are your friend. Like it or not, if you follow policies and procedures like having your withholding done correctly and paying estimated taxes, when your year is up, there shouldn’t be any surprises and you shouldn’t have to deal with consequences. The same goes with goals. If you set up a process to review, give and get feedback, and modify expectations to meet overall goals, you won’t be surprised when the year is complete.
  • It’s easier to keep track of things all year long instead of all at one time. Don’t wait until the last minute to start pulling everything together. Spending smaller periods of time, in a strategic manner throughout the year, will reap more benefits than a strong push at the end.
  • Getting a refund is great . . . or is it? Some individuals purposely overpay taxes because they like to get a big refund each year. However, consider the value of that money. Instead of you having access to what is yours throughout the year, it is in the hands of the government. Would you have saved more money by using it to pay down a credit card or a loan? In your professional life, are you spending your time doing the highest priority items, those items that will present not only short, but long-term benefits for you?

So, did you get your taxes in on time this year? Were you surprised or were you in a place where you knew what to expect? Can you say the same thing for your personal goals—are you on schedule and in control of the outcome? Today is as good as any day to take a step back and see how you are doing!

Moving From Good To Great

In his great book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about what happens in some organizations that make them great, while other organizations plateau at good. The question you need to ask is whether you have a good company (or team), or a great company (or team). Have you hit a plateau or are you really seeking to be great.

“Good is the enemy of great” is one of my favorite quotes from the book because I think it is so true. Too often I see organizations and teams who confuse good with great. They think that because they are making a profit or having success, they have reached the pinnacle. However, when they really look at the potential, they see that there is a whole new level available for them to pursue.

Below are a few things to help you consider whether you have a good or great organization or team. See how you do.

  1. Do you feel like you have the right people on your team, in your organization? Good teams will “accept” people as “not the best at what they do, but a good person” while great teams ask themselves whether team members can be the absolute best at what they are expected to do.
  1. Do you have a common vision of who you are and what you want to accomplish? Collins calls this the Hedgehog Concept. There are three questions you can ask yourself to help determine your Hedgehog Concept:

What are we really passionate about?

What do we do that drives the economic engine?

What can we be best in the world at?

  1. Do you confront the “brutal facts”. Good teams understand there are difficult issues to be dealt with, but have the tendency to put them off or ignore them. Great teams use these difficult issues to open discussion and look for better ways to do things.
  1. Does your organization or team have the discipline to focus on the important aspects of being great? Have you identified where you need to be more disciplined? Are you holding everyone accountable for doing the things that will make you great?

How did you do? Are you good . . . or are you great? The “great” news is that either answer presents opportunity. Take a step back, consider where you are and make plans to become even greater.

Leaders Start With Why

I often hear from leaders in our management development programs who are frustrated with employees who don’t do what they are supposed to do. When pressed on why they think this happens, responses typically vary, but usually land on the fact that employees don’t do what they are supposed to do because they aren’t clear on what is expected of them.

I agree. I think it starts with clear expectations and mutually understood SMART goals. But that’s just a start.  Great leaders understand that managing the performance of others is not just setting clear goals. It’s more than “What” we are doing and “How” we are going to do it. It can be taken to the next level by taking time to make sure others understand “Why”.

I can understand that my job is to share certain information with people. To do that I document and present the information in both written and verbal form. However, if I not only focus on the what and how—but also why the information is being communicated I might look at how I document and share verbally to hit a bigger goal, such as motivation or a sense of urgency.

According to Simon Sinek, best-selling author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action, the fundamental difference between organizations like the “Apples” of the world and everyone else is that they start with “why.”

What does that even mean? To explain this concept, Sinek has developed what he calls the “Golden Circle”. The Golden Circle has three layers:

  • Why – This is the core belief of the business. It’s why the business exists.
  • How – This is how the business fulfills that core belief.
  • What – This is what the company does to fulfill that core belief.

Sounds simple, but what Sinek found is that most companies do things backwards. They start with their “what” and then move to “how” they do it. Most of these companies neglect to even mention why they do what they do. More alarmingly, many of them don’t even know why they do what they do!

As managers, we can apply this to many of our everyday interactions with those around us.  Next time it seems like one of your team members is struggling, consider whether it is a “What”, “How” or “Why” issue.

Want to learn more, check out this video by Simon Sinek at Ted Talk.

Managers Developing Unconscious Competence

Uninterrupted think time is awesome! The only problem is we just don’t get enough of it. As I write this blog I’m somewhere between Atlanta and Guadalajara and just finished reviewing some of the content for our upcoming Manager Boot Camp. I continue to “wow” myself with the obvious when I actually get the thinking time I just referenced. My latest “wow” is that when it comes right down to it, there isn’t much new to be said about being a great manager. Hire the right people. Set clear expectations. Provide the tools and resources necessary to do their job.  Provide ongoing coaching and feedback. Formally appraise performance. And then reset…new expectations, new tools and resources, etc.

Great managers don’t have to think about it. They’ve mastered their skills. They’ve progressed through what we call the four levels of competence.

Level 1: Unconscious Incompetence. This is the level where managers don’t even know what they don’t know. They are “unconscious” to their “incompetence”. Good managers will figure out what they don’t know and progress to the next level.

Level 2: Conscious Incompetence. At this level, managers have identified the skill sets they need to work on and begin to work on themselves because they know that before they can be truly successful working on others they must first work on themselves.

Level 3: Conscious Competence. This is where managers start to have fun because they are starting to succeed. They are consciously doing the right things and developing partnerships with those they lead so they are having successes together.

Level 4: Unconscious Competence. Everyone strives to get here. This is the point where things just happen because they have become so ingrained in the manager. They don’t have to consciously think about what to do, they just do it.

So I leave you with a question to think about.

Where are you in your level of consciousness as a manager? And more importantly, what should you be doing about it?