Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Building Trust When They Know About The Sausage

We go to our favorite restaurant and an enjoy a meal. The food tastes great, the service is fine, and the manager speaks to us with respect and gratitude. We will come back. Maybe even multiple times. This place could become a favorite.

We decide we love this restaurant so much we begin to work there and we see behind the scenes.

The kitchen is not clean. The servers can't stand each other and speak poorly of their guests. The manager treats his employees the opposite of how he treats his guests.

The illusion is broken.

Sure. When a restaurant is actually run this way, it leaks out to the patrons in the seats ordering the food. But here's the point.

It's not all that tough to build trust between two people. Business to customer. Management to guests. Consultant to client. Non-profit to donor. You control the flow of information. You get to keep the backstage curtains drawn. If you've done your job in the HR department, you've hired professionals who will keep those relationships - professional. And if something isn't working out, it's relatively easy to just walk away.

Trust within an organization is a complex piece of architecture with many pieces and moving parts. Employees see how the sausage is made. They know the flaws of management. It's obvious when information is being withheld. When one manager violates the personal trust of any direct report, trust levels in the entire organization are affected. Broken trust lives on at water cooler conversations and over drinks after work. Broken trust is seldom forgiven and never forgotten.

And it's a lot tougher to walk away unscathed. Livelihoods are at stake.

No one lives unto themselves.

There is no formula for building an organizational environment of trust. Like a piece of complex architecture, it's built with care over time.

But you must build the foundation well or fortify it well, if you're further along in the building process.

The foundation for trust is generosity in the distribution of authority.

We build trust and gain influence when we give away power.

Sure, there's more to trust that this.

But start there.