Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Guest Post: Three Ways to Increase Trust and Eliminate Drama


By Marlene Chism

You ask your employees to engage, but they sit there with their arms crossed.  You solicit ideas, but no one comes forward. No one seems to know exactly what is expected and everyone seems to pass the buck.  If you see any of these drama indicators, it’s likely that there is a trust issue in your workplace.

Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust says in one of his articles, ‘Think about it this way: When trust is low, in a company or in a relationship, it places a hidden “tax” on every transaction: every communication, every interaction, every strategy, every decision is taxed, bringing speed down and sending costs up. My experience is that significant distrust doubles the cost of doing business and triples the time it takes to get things done.’

Covey says the two components of trust are character and credibility. I agree and would like to add that where there is a lack of trust, there is drama, and where there is drama, there is always a lack of clarity. The lack of clarity contributing to the trust issues in your organization may be as simple as looking at your processes. Here are three ways to increase trust and eliminate drama by building better processes.

Create an Employee Handbook
In my book, Stop Workplace Drama I talk about the one component always present in all kinds of drama and that is a lack of clarity. Where there is no employee handbook, there will be a lot of confusion. Besides the mission statement, there is no other communication tool more important than the employee handbook. The employee handbook is the one place everyone can go when there is a question regarding any area related to employment with the company including expectations, safety requirements, dress code, probation period, laws, compensation and more.

Develop Written Job Descriptions
If you are delivering feedback to your employees without setting them up for success, you will create a barrier to effective performance and will decrease the trust between boss and employee. No one likes to be judged for their performance if they are not clear on how to make the grade. One way to increase job performance is to describe exactly what areas of responsibility and tasks are to be performed on any particular job. Without a job description you are inviting an excuse, “that’s not my job.”  With a job description there’s no question about what is expected and what skills are required to get the job done. Job descriptions can change over time, so make sure you keep yours updated by having the employees themselves add to the job descriptions or alter them as their duties evolve and change.

Teach Standard Operating Procedures
Each job has many tasks that work together to effectively produce a product or a service that contributes to the overall goals of the company. A standard operating procedure often referred as SOP is a documented step-by-step process of how the job is done most efficiently to avoid defects, or safety hazards or to produce the highest quality product. A good standard operating procedure for each job helps to ensure consistency. You take the guesswork out of performance and thus increase trust when you have the appropriate SOP’s in place.

Ready to Stop Workplace Drama?  Marlene Chism, author of Stop Workplace Drama, invites you to learn more about her new book and Stop Your Drama Methodology, eight principles to help leaders gain clarity and reduce workplace drama.

The Product Management Perspective: Too often drama creeps in to product initiatives and makes it more difficult to deliver on time. Product managers who build relationships of trust will keep the drama at bay and the product initiatives moving forward in the right direction.

3 thoughts on “Guest Post: Three Ways to Increase Trust and Eliminate Drama

  1. This post really bothers me. I do agree that workplaces might sometimes have lack of trust between people and even drama as described in this post. I just can’t agree on the suggestions described here to improve the situation. I have to say I haven’t read the book, but I’m just relying this blog post.

    I see employee handbook, written job descriptions and standard operation procedures as a cause of drama and mistrust. It’s like company or boss is saying, the only way I can trust you to do your job, is to give a written manual to you. You are all robots to me, not human who are capable of solving problems yourself.

    If in a company people are using the excuse “that’s not my job”, there’s something else wrong in the company than job descriptions. People are not committed to work and they don’t care about each other. You can’t build trust with forcing people to do things. You must, quite the opposite, let people to take the responsibility. When you show respect and trust to them, they will start to co-operate, making manuals and written job descriptions will not help in the long run.

    Operation manuals might suite to army or hospital, where some things need to be done in really perfect way, not to jeopardize health of anyone, but not anywhere else. Even in these places, there’s a room for individual decision making.

    New type of organizations should not be build on manuals and operations procedures, but trust. Trust is a difficult thing, you really need to trust people to get them co-operate. Fake trust will be noticed, and then you will just get more drama and more confusion.

  2. Your approach to the problem is to do more of the same stuff that creates distrust in the first place.

    Distrust? It is relatively easy to create trust if one understands the origins of distrust. Anything we don’t know, are unknown to us, creates distrust. If we never know about changes and have a chance to influence them before the are made, we distrust the future. If our bosses rarely allow us to put in our two cents or don’t take appropriate action when we do, we distrust our bosses. If our bosses give us orders even though we are perfectly capable of figuring out what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, we will distrust our bosses. Etcetera, etcetera. Employees harboring distrust are also demotivated and demoralized by how they are treated.

    The only way to get rid of all distrust is to listen to employees and respond respectfully to their complaints, suggestions and questions, 24/7 as often as they have any of those. Do that continuously and they will not have anything to distrust.

    Most managements do not understand that they have the power to create trusting, highly motivated, highly committed, fully engaged employees who literally love to come to work and unleash their full potential of creativity, innovation and productivity on their work as well as the power to demotivate and disengage their employees causing them to distrust management.

    The common problem is that these leaders do not understand what leadership is. What is it exactly? –

    Secondly, they don’t realize that using the “right techniques” any manager can create highly motivated,, highly committed, fully engaged employees literally loving to come to work and being >300% more productive than if poorly motivated.

    Thirdly, they don’t realize that the standard, widely used authoritarian approach to managing people naturally demotivates and demoralizes people while making them distrusting of management, quite the opposite of what’s needed.

    And finally, they don’t understand what motivates us, all of us. The scientific research of psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan discovered what that is –

    Best regards, Ben
    Leadership is a science and so is engagement

  3. Pingback: Follow These Product Marketing Professionals | Smart Software Marketing

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