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July 17, 2008

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Oh, boy, Michelle. I think you hit it perfectly. Trust is a huge issue - between people, between departments, between the executive office and everyone else. And everyone does operate on the scarcity principle - especially those who watch the news regularly.
A thoughtful, well-reasoned piece. How can we change this?

Kia ora Michele!

Trust is at the heart of the success of any organisation. And you're right - it is a severely limiting factor.

Trust is a subjectively measurable thing that's been discussed recently on Britt's post.

Trust can also be earned and often has to be. But I feel that the distinction between trust and trustworthiness has to be kept in mind when assessing people. Saying "I don't trust that person", is different from saying "that person is untrustworthy", for there is a litigious element in the latter that does not exist in the former. I am entitled to have distrust in someone but I'm not necessarily entitled to say that they are untrustworthy.

The culture of contractors and their work ethics has been a matter of debate for some time in western society. It is said that contractors are good at writing and following contracts - to the letter. Some of the problems that arise through this results from interpretation of contracts (or misinterpretation of contracts). But it comes down to trust - again. Do you trust that the person who does the job is going to do the job the way they say they will? That seems to be what you are on about when you spoke of working with work colleagues.

There is an old Scottish saying: "naethin' cams alane". Literally it means nothing comes by itself. Whatever it is, it brings with it other things or constraints or conditions. So it is with working with people, whether in a room or in the blogosphere.

Writing Comment Policy is subjectively to do with ethics. Adjusting the comment settings on a blog involves weighing up pros and cons to do with trust (of people) and usability (by people). When I first created my blog I hadn't thought about policy or settings. But those came with the chattels as it were.

Accepting the chattels when working with people means accepting that trust (or the lack of it) in all its manifestations, has also to be accepted.

Trust is one of the most difficult things to embrace in a new environment, whether in the workplace or in the outback. I believe that it affects us emotionally, because it is one of the powerful evolved human traits to do with fear. Do I have some fear of situations I don't trust, or of people I don't trust? You bet!

Once again, you hit the nail on the head, Michelle. Where I teach, trust, or the lack thereof, gets in the way of so much. Teachers don't trust students, so they put elaborate systems in place to prevent cheating, at the expense of students learning collaboration. Students don't trust teachers, so they grub for grades and battle for points, instead of using assessments as a point of feedback and suggestions for improvement. And, teachers and administrators don't trust each other, establishing barriers to an honest process of continual improvement.

Kia ora (again) Michele!

On a lighter note, I was thinking more about your post when I read a post by Evelyn Lim, & How-to-be-happy Lessons That Kids Can Teach Us. What caught my attention was the implicit faith that children have - Evelyn's right. "We are too encumbered by unnecessary worries. We limit ourselves by our beliefs. If things are not working in our favor, we may even choose to give up half way and ditch our dreams."

She further advocates that "Adults should learn from kids to put aside their differences and care for each other. Love creates happiness."

I reckon!

Ka kite

Thanks, everyone, for your great comments!

Roberta, in some sense it feels to me like the way to get started is simply to start trusting. If something happens along the way to make our trust go away, then we have to look at what needs to be done to restore it. I also think we have to try to create the conditions for having trust--transparency seems to me to be one of the most important things we can do to further that. If we're as transparent as possible about what we're doing and why/how we're doing it, then it seems that would create an atmosphere of greater trust.

AW--it sounds like you're working in an environment similar to where most people work. It seems to me that schools, in many ways, are worse because for whatever reason, we adults seem to have an innate distrust of young people, so anyplace where they are gathered together seems to be rampant with control mechanisms that indicate we don't trust kids to make good decisions. That's unfortunate because I personally think that helping kids to grow up is to create an environment where its safe for them to make bad decisions but where we're there to help them see their ways out of those bad decisions.

Ken--I think that Evelyn is so right that we need to follow the lead of children in many things, having faith being one of them. We've replace so many healthy beliefs from childhood with so many limiting beliefs and we call that "growing up"?!

Another place where trust in lacking is the trust that any knowledge/information/skills gained through professional development will be used for the organization that 'paid' for it. I think some employers don't trust that their employees will stick around after getting degrees, getting training, etc. Of course, denying employees this growth only drives them away in the end.

I think we could circumvent some of these trust issues if we tried to look at the bigger picture more often. For instance, even though an employee might not stick around for long after gaining a lot of new skills, it is still better to provide them with the means to do even better at changing the world (or whatever your given profession ;) than to constantly restrict them.

In this way, organizations can become 'leadership factories' by which those who have worked there are known for their skills and abilities and the organization is known as a great place to work with leadership and development opps galore.

Elisa, I couldn't agree with you more! I particularly think that this needs to be true for nonprofits, which supposedly are about doing good in the world. The more you help build the capacity of others, the more good you can do. Seems to me that should be a part of every organization's mission.

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