The power of Trust
If there was ever a time to learn the value of trust, it’s now. We must trust that the rules and regulations being enforced are necessary. We need to trust that people – often ones we don’t know – are sanitising as obsessively as we are. Most challenging of all, we have to trust that eventually, things will get better.
Considering how difficult it is for us to have trust on a personal level, it’s no surprise that companies struggle with it. Most have been abruptly forced into a remote working culture that they weren’t ready for.
Their fear is that remote work will lower productivity and, in an effort to curb that fear, they are micromanaging employees to exert control, while employees – aware that their managers don’t trust them – are overworking to prove them wrong. This is toxic for everyone involved. To change this, companies need to focus on building an environment with trust as its foundation.
There are a few ways that companies can begin this transition.
Lead to inspire
Trust exists as a cycle: Leaders need to show trust to gain trust. If you place trust in an employee, they will do the same for you. This creates an environment of honesty and openness where mistakes are easily remedied. Remaining consistent about trusting employees is essential because it is much harder to win trust back after it is lost than it is to build it.
Transparency is key
Because everyone is working individually, it’s easy to mistakenly withhold information. As with all communication, context is king. This applies as much to leaders and managers as it does to employees: Being transparent about decisions and expectations inspires the same openness in employees.
Be fair about accountability
Micromanagement in a remote working environment is exhausting for all parties. It means more meetings, more phone calls, more emails and more time. Creating a strategy for accountability were quality is more important than quantity will help. Decide on a schedule that fits the work required (daily status reports, weekly check-ins etc.) and resist the urge to communicate until the scheduled accountability session.
Read between the lines
Keep in mind that there are shortcomings in digital communications and plan for them. Without context, visual cues and the mental shorthand of behavioural interactions, misunderstandings are common. In these situations, It’s important to recognise the possibility of miscommunication. Before allowing this to become a problem, ask questions and take the time to check if you have understood something correctly.
Accepting that the way we are working now is the new status quo is essential for companies. Humans have always adapted to survive and companies will be successful if they remember Charles Darwin’s most famous quote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”