Managing Trust

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by: Sigurd Rinde


Yep, the September issue of the Harvard Business Review has an article – "The Decision to Trust"  – with the angle of "explaining the mental calculations people make before choosing to trust someone".

Written by Robert F. Hurley, it is not a bad article in itself, it makes for a good analysis and offers many good points given it’s starting point:

"Roughly half of all managers don’t trust their leaders" stemming from a survey of 450 executives by the author. I have no problem in believing that.

Then Hurley goes on to describe his ten factor model for making a decision to trust or not.

That’s when I protest. Humbly of course, but sternly.

In my view there is only one factor. One reality, nothing to manage at all, it’s binary:

Transparency equals trust.

No transparency, no trust. Complete transparency, complete trust. End of issue. And there is nothing called "half transparency" – one snippet missing, then no transparency and no trust.

If I can see (or think I can, or would be able to) all of what my boss is up to, I’d trust him. Nothing to think over, nothing to manage.

If I know where my kids are and who they’re with (and I know those kids) and I know his mobile phone is switched on – then I’m at ease.

If I can look over the shoulders and see whatever my colleagues are up to at any time, well, then I trust they’re at it. And I can check if I get the urge to refresh my trust.

I could even trust a bandit if he was completely transparent. Obviously I would also know in what areas I could not trust him, like not giving him my credit card.

And the 50% who does not trust their boss? Of course, there is not much transparency in the current workplace model, organisational hierarchies are not designed with that in mind. I am actually more surprised that 50% actually trust their boss 🙂

Awast ye scurvy hierarchies! (I say again)

And when I’m at it – please, please do not complicate life when it is simple, it gets so complicated…