Archive for April, 2011
This post is inspired by a father teaching his daughter cycling. This will bring home the power of three words “I trust you” and its magic on all of us.
“Don’t worry I am walking right beside, keep looking in front”. This was a father gently urging his daughter to stop worrying and just cycle. He was trying to wean her off the safety wheels and obviously, she was petrified of a fall on the hard cemented surface! She kept looking down, looking back, but he persisted, and he was always there when she lost balance, not letting her fall. With each prevented fall, she gained in confidence, started looking in front, chin up, and shoulders squared off. Slowly the father fell a few paces behind and started letting her go. He was hovering around to assure her but it was more psychological now, and voila! One fine day, she was cycling on her own, not looking back! Wow…the power of trust.
This set me thinking, can we harness this power as managers. What if we all were like that gentle father: assuring, always around, holding them when they fall and letting them soar to achieve their full potential?
This reminded me of an incident that happened a few years ago. I heard a lot of complaints of a new leader we had brought on board. I heard comments about her being too hard, questioning everything, too controlling da…da… I ignored it first, dismissing it as settling issues. But when it persisted I had no choice but to address it. In our meeting, I told her ‘Listen your customers are happy, I am delighted with your focus and energy but a few of your leaders don’t seem too happy with your leadership style. I want you to know I trust you, I believe you are a great hire and will do very well. What can we do to fix this part too? ” We had an awesome discussion, she wanted to know – what I was hearing, whether I could share some incidents etc…. At the end of the meeting we both walked out with clear action items but no looking behind. She spoke to me a year later to thank me for the trust and how that is what kept her going. I was humbled.
When I narrated this to a colleague, he nodded and added, “You know what, when I know my boss trusts me, I stop looking back. I don’t have to worry about what he or she is thinking and I only focus on the task at hand.”
This is true. We have a disproportionate influence on our team members’ careers. We decide their performance scores, salary increases, bonuses, promotions, approve leaves (phew!). (Now I am getting worried about whether my boss trusts me!)
Given this background, it is only natural that our team members are beset with worries and insecurities about their managers. In their mind they are constantly thinking – Oh! What will my boss think? What if I fail, will I get yelled at in front of others, what about my promotion? It spurs some to action but it paralyses most and drives them nuts!
We have the power to take away all those thoughts and make it easy. Just say the magic words, “I trust you”. It immediately focuses their energies on the job at hand. Despite all this what if somebody fails? Don’t slam them.
Everybody fails – You, failed too! Remember? Make it clear it is not about them. Sit them down, ask them what happened, agree on lessons learnt, what they will do different, and move on. Once this conversation is done never remind them about the failure. Say the magic words before you close.
A final word – Saying I trust you is easy, maintaining it though, is tough. For maintaining you should create an ecosystem of trust and the ecosystem thrives on these guideposts:
1. Set clear expectations – this is very critical
2. Provide regular feedback, Cheer every milestone. Don’t wait till the end. While at it, ensure you Do not nitpick – Over look some of the misses and reinforce the hits. Success begets success
3. Don’t tell – ask questions and help them find answers. This could be painstakingly time consuming, but it is crucial you are accessible throughout, especially when they are failing.
4. Your team should know that you will discuss with them and not somebody else. You have to resist the temptation to discuss with others when the person in question is not around.
5. Appreciate team members and talk about their successes in public. It would be great to get your boss to compliment them.
Recently, one of our colleagues missed a review and just to tease him we told him that our manager was really upset with him. Instead of worrying, he smiled and said “I trust him, he will call me if he is upset” Our joke fell flat. The power of trust hit home yet again!
Trust is powerful so is fear and insecurity. It all depends on which power you want to harness. I have made my choice. What about you?
This article am sure will strike a chord with each of us, whether we have been there done that, or been there seen that or whether we are preparing for just another interview or deciding to spruce up our resumes..
Read on and dont forget to leave your comments at http://peoplematters.in/articles/focus-areas-13/an-interviewlogue-no-method-in-the-madness