Trust is something that is foundational to healthy leaders, healthy companies, and healthy relationships. But it is hard, especially in times where managers change yearly, communication is sporadic, and a self-preservation mindset still exists from the recent economic slump. In my experience dealing with companies that are growing or working with limited resources, I see lots of people working quickly and reacting more than thinking things through. When we are in that mode, our behaviors often erodes trust because we are defaulting to our most natural mode of behavior. Under stress, we have a diminished ability to flex our work style to best fit the situation or person. It is rarely intentional, but our actions send a negative message. In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey makes the observation that “We judge ourselves based on our intentions, but we judge others on their actions”.
I call these actions TrustBUSTERS. What if we knew the Top 3 TrustBUSTERS for everyone we worked with and we were aware of the three things we did most often? How would that impact the trust on our team? Here is the list of TrustBUSTERS :
- Talks negatively about teammates behind their backs
- Unwilling to admit mistakes and apologize
- Slow to extend trust to others
- Does not communicate and explain changes/decisions well
- Tells a lot, listens very little
- Criticizes decisions AFTER the team has discussed them and the decision has been made
- Values individual success over team goals
- Shows little/if any concern about me as a person
- Does not consistently follow through on commitments
- Asks team to make sacrifices ($ / time), but does not make same sacrifices
Have any to add?
He entered my office with a look on his face that was both quizzical and bothered. He was wondering why he was here. In front of me was an email with no four letter words, no inappropriate nouns or adjectives, but lots of capital letters. He was 24 years old, a hard-driving and successful sales person, and he saw capital letters as a way of conveying how passionate he felt about what he was saying. Of course, the person who had received this and everyone on his team viewed this as yelling. He made it through that conversation, but only lasted about three more months in the organization.
In a recent post by Jason Diamond Arnold (see post: http://ht.ly/35a5N) he chronicles the process of using restraint and time to pull the emotion out of an email so that it does not result in damage to a relationship. It is a good message and a reminder of how to know when you have crossed the line and show some restraint by NOT hitting the send button.
Let me go one step further – NEVER send an email where the message contains anger, frustration, disappointment, disillusionment, or has the sole purpose of holding someone accountable for actions. Write it, read it, think about it (I recommend 24 hours), and in the end if the feeling is still there get on the phone or walk over and deal with it. I have a file full of email arguments that are great material for Dilbert, but would make you shake your head because they all involve executive level leaders.
If you are a leader and find yourself wanting to write one of these emails to your company/department – here is an alternative.
- Write the email
- Share it personally with your leadership team – what you see, why it frustrates you, and what you want to see.
- Ask for their input – Are your observations accurate? What might you be missing? What will it take to correct this?
- Listen (this is an important step so I thought I would bring it up twice)
- Thank them for their input – and make a decision on next steps – If moving forward with a message to the organization is important, enlist the help of someone else to craft a message and agree (as a team) what the follow-up will be from everyone in the group.
Correcting mistakes or redirecting the actions of many is important to the success of your organization. But there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Emotionally charged emails are the wrong way. stop it! (see – no caps, and you still get the message)