Thursday, August 3, 2006

The enemies of trust

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, August 3, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
The enemies of trust

“WE have all seen individuals fight lonely battles of truth in otherwise corrupt organizations only to leave in disgust when the final cards were being played,” write Robert Galford and Anne Seibold Drapeau in their book, The Trusted Leader.

“You really can’t be a trusted leader in your organization, or in your part of larger organization, unless an environment of trust exists beyond your office walls. Sure, you can be an island of trust in an otherwise untrustworthy world, but what good is that? If you’re the last bastion of open, honest communication and the free flow of information, you’ll quickly become a target. Your position, while just and heroic, just won’t hold.”

Who or what are the enemies of trust? These enemies—and they are many—are individuals consumed with ambitions to move upward while flattening colleagues or undermining teamwork. They are organizations where the culture punishes dissent, hides conflict and kowtows to hierarchy. They could also be situations like crises and systems such as a compensation system that inadvertently reward unproductive behaviors.

So, specifically who or what are these enemies?

Galford and Drapeau identify them as inadequate communication, misbehavior and situations not remedied or addressed. Specifically, they are:

• People with unhealthy levels of need for promotion, power or recognition
• People whose personal agendas are at odds with those of the organization
• Volatile personalities and/or class A Jerks
• A corporate history of under-performance
• Pulling a “bait and switch”
• Behavior of controlled vengeance
• Inconsistent messaging
• Complicated situations
• Unintended consequences
• Endless management reorganizations
• Rapidly changing situations
• Misplaced benevolence
• False feedback
• Elephant meandering undisturbed in the parlor
• Inconsistent reactions or standards
• Excessively strict or inflexible standards
• Scapegoating
• Taking away part of the everyday
• Paralysis in the face of difficulty
• Incompetence, perceived or actual
• Failing to trust others
• Your own sweet self

Organizations will always experience exciting or exasperating times. Sometimes, though, some seemingly simple decisions that are left hanging give rise to a host of “rumors” that complicates things. Employees hate a vacuum, especially in communication. And so they start to speculate to fill in information that is not there or without anything solid to grab, employees will over-read into any shared information they find.

Mergers and acquisitions, though they bring positive changes for the organization, could spell trouble to some employees. They start fearing for their jobs and make decisions based on those fears, rather than on what is good for business as a whole.

In many organizations I consult with, one thing that employees complain about is the seemingly never-ending reorganization. When I ask for an organizational chart for the organizing part (remember POLC? Planning, organizing, leading and controlling) of our Supervisory Development Workshop, for example, nobody could provide for an updated organization chart. They say that an updated organizational chart is their own continuing science experiment.

“Change in and of itself has no direct link to the level of trust in an organization, but the way in which change is viewed, handled, communicated, and positioned does.”

To attend the Taiwan Summit on Globalization of Human Resource 2006 in Taipei this September 22-23, please go to or email for details.

Moje consults on human resource and organization development and could be reached at

No comments: