Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Trust Vacation

As leaders, our choices shape trust. If we want more trust in our teams, we need to accurately assess competencies - and give people chances to grow to the next level. Here are some keys to do so. Perhaps a vacation is the perfect opportunity to take the kind of risk that builds trust?

How many of you are able to unplug from technology? How many times did you check your emails and see if there were any problems at work that you needed to answer?

I’m also wondering if you recognize that unplugging and stepping away from your office and letting others handle the problems that may arise is a sign of your trust in them. It involves taking a chance and a leap of faith and with that comes a level of risk. Things may be done differently than you would do them and, yes, there may even be a few things that aren't done at all. If you are going to develop your team and your business, you have to be able to trust and by unplugging and allowing them to make decisions and take action you show that you do.

This risk-taking is at the center of building trust. If we want to strengthen trust, we need to use it – and that means giving people opportunities to go a little further than they did yesterday.

When the COO of Six Seconds, Josh Freedman, first started traveling to develop international offices, it was with the trust and blessing of his mentor and advisor Anabel Jensen. Anabel knew important decisions would set the course for the global operation of Six Seconds and she let Josh know she trusted him to make the decisions negotiating contracts overseas. “She said, I know you’ll make the right decisions because you’re the one who will be there making them!” Josh tells me that her faith and support in his abilities gave him the confidence to step into a bigger role.

In TRUSTED – A Leader’s Lesson, Hunter Birket (the protagonist) talks with Susan Cannon (his boss and mentor) about the competency levels of his staff.

Competency Levels:
  1. “Wait to be told.” or “Do exactly what I say.” or “Follow these instructions precisely.”
  2. “Look into this and tell me the situation. I’ll decide.”
  3. “Look into this and tell me the situation. We’ll decide together.”
  4. “Tell me the situation and what help you need from me in assessing and handling it. Then we’ll decide.”
  5. “Give me your analysis of the situation (reasons, options, pros and cons) and recommendation. I’ll let you know whether you can go ahead.”
  6. “Decide and let me know your decision, and wait for my go-ahead before proceeding.”
  7. “Decide and let me know your decision, then go ahead unless I say not to.”
  8. “Decide and take action – let me know what you did (and what happened).”
  9. “Decide and take action. You need not check back with me.”
  10. “Decide where action needs to be taken and manage the situation accordingly. It’s your area of responsibility now.”
(Competency levels from Bob Brooks – Adjunct Facilitator at University of Phoenix)

In the book, Susan helps Hunter see that his perspective on an employee’s competency is one of the drivers of trust. When Hunter sees an employee as a “3 or 4,” he’s unwilling to give the guy a real chance. In this case, Hunter was making some assumptions based on incomplete data, so he was under-utilizing his employee, and creating a mess. Fortunately, Hunter learns that the only way to really know, is to give someone opportunities to demonstrate his abilities – to perform at a higher level.

Where would you place your staff?
Where would you place yourself?
Where would your boss place you?

If you want to develop a trusted workplace, understand the competencies of you and your staff and then ask yourself, “What do I need to do to help them to move up one level.” It starts with taking a trust vacation – stepping just far enough away from a responsibility so others can pick up the slack.

Are you going to choose to trust someone today?