I’ve been pondering a few thoughts going around in my head for the past few days. A bit of this and a bit of that all circling about waiting for me to put pen to paper. Or rather these days – fingers to keyboard! I realised that all these random thoughts came down to one thing really: trust!
I had a candidate I’ve known for a few years now and he wanted to catch up with me recently over a cup of coffee. Nothing to do with finding him another job, but to help him since he was in a bit of a quandary.
Like so often happens when I start a conversation with people, before I know it they’re telling me everything. Literally spilling their guts! They feel a lot better at the end of it as they’ve got it all off their chest and dumped it with me. I guess I must be a good listener and also people trust me not to tell the world. And I never do!
In this case, it involved amongst other things, a trust issue. Following a review about three months earlier, this candidate’s boss said she would increase his salary, but money was a bit tight and could they commence it in two months. The candidate understood and was more than happy to wait.
A bit over two months went by and his boss hadn’t mentioned anything about the salary increase. So the candidate brought the subject up again with her. This time, his boss said she couldn’t recall having said that and made him feel like he was just a money-hungry employee. Then she said she would give him the increase, but it wouldn’t commence for another month.
The fact is that by delaying the salary increase for three months, the employer saved herself money. This is not the point though. If his boss had said she would commence the salary increase in three months at the outset, then the candidate would have accepted that. By doing it in this fashion, there now exists a ‘lack of trust’ issue. So suddenly we have an ‘up to now’ loyal employee, thinking about the possibility of maybe moving on to another company.
I recall many years ago, when I worked for a very large national company with about 50,000 employees in total around the country. I remained there for a dozen years while there were many others who had only ever worked for that company. So we had people due for long service leave when they were only in their early 30s.
The reason people stayed was because there were many career opportunities and also because we were well looked after by the company. In fact, it felt more like a family company. Strange for such a large employer of people, but that’s how it felt. From the CEO down, senior management looked after their employees, recognising them for their achievements and treating them as human beings - and trusting us to do our jobs well.
And as employees, we were in turn loyal and a majority of us worked hard at our jobs. In fact, in the head office, where I was one of about 1,000 staff members, hardly anyone ever left. In fact, in the 12 years I was there I recall three senior executives leaving. Two of them, in fact, returned after about a year away! Obviously, the grass wasn’t greener on the other side.
Then, one day, it all started to change! We had a new CEO who didn’t seem to trust anyone. That filtered down through the management levels. Suddenly, we weren’t allowed to socialise with our suppliers as it seemed we may be tempted not to do the right thing by the company. We had endless meetings and had to justify practically everything we did. Suddenly, there appeared to be lots of red tape.
Some things were plain stupid. Cuts were made to the stationery we were supplied with. The paper in the writing pads was that thin it resembled tissue paper. And the pencils well… let’s just say that when you sharpened one, the lead broke that many times that by the time you’d finally got a point on it, you had about half a pencil left to use.
So, morale went downhill and now senior executives started leaving in droves not to return. Within six months, about six of us left including me. Such a shame as it had been a great company to work in.
The CEO, in the end, was done for company fraud and went to jail for a few years. His lack of trust in his staff changed the entire workings of a national company and its profits too.
On the other hand, I placed a candidate in a new role the other week and she is so happy as her new employer has already placed his trust in her. Whereas, her previous boss always wanted to know where she was, what she was doing etc, her new boss doesn’t. He realises that she is good at what she does and trusts her to do her job proficiently.
Giving her ownership of her position, she will endeavour to prove him right and give him the results he is seeking. She’ll possibly even exceed his expectations to prove that his faith in her is warranted.
That’s what trust is about and it has to come from both sides. How can one person trust another if the other person doesn’t them?
The truth is this: talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words.
Companies, employers and managers shouldn’t say one thing and do another. It damages credibility. What takes a long time to build can be lost with one or two dumb actions.
Once the trust equation is broken the game is over. As employers make announcements and fail to live up to them credibility suffers. That is why it is paramount to be upfront as much as possible.