Key Point: Positive relationships have the biggest impact on trust, period. The authors note: “Intuitively we thought that consistency would be the most important element. Saying one thing and doing another seems like it would hurt trust the most. While our analysis showed that inconsistency does have a negative impact (trust went down 17 points), it was relationships that had the most substantial impact. When relationships were low and both judgment and consistency were high, trust went down 33 points. This may be because many leaders are seen as occasionally inconsistent. We all intend to do things that don’t get done, but once a relationship is damaged or if it was never formed in the first place, it’s difficult for people to trust.”
My observation is that building and maintaining positive relationships requires our personal energy and intentional investment. Yet, people too often under invest in caring about the situation or concerns of people who work around them. We obviously know relationship building is important, still we seem to show up most when WE need something. That does little to inspire trust. Are you known as a builder and investor in positive relationships? Do people trust you?
Actions we can take:
Based on Zenger/Folkman’s findings, investing in and building positive relationships for increasing trust includes (but not limited to): Proactively staying in touch on the issues and concerns of others; balancing results with concern; generating cooperation; resolving conflicts; giving honest feedback in a helpful way.
After reading this, take one small action to proactively invest in an underdeveloped relationship at work.
More investment in positive relationships,
One Millennial View: We’ve talked a lot in these blogs about the value of giving people respect, in contradiction to the more popular take that someone should have to earn our respect. Trust, whether we like it or not, is still very much an “earned” value, and that’s completely understandable to me. How are we supposed to put trust in someone we don’t know, let alone don’t have any relationship with? We all put in the hours at work to earn a paycheck, but perhaps trust is another valuable currency that deserves a few hours of our time each week too.
Story: Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard more vigorous commentary and support for the concept of opposition research. Most often it is in the context of the rough and tumble world of politics. For example, “if they would have done their opposition research, they would have found that out earlier and clobbered the person on the other side.” So I was thinking of starting up an opposition research firm specifically for the workplace. Maybe I could call it: “F YOU UP” Our mission statement: “We find out everything and crush who’s in your way.” If you contact my firm, let me know who you’re competing with for a position at work, and we will dig up the dirt including but not limited to old yearbooks, teen years, so-called expunged legal records, divorce filings, finance issues, medical records, anything we can find on the dark web, and of course all early social media. We then promise to have bots/trolls place our salacious findings everywhere your bosses and colleagues can see it. We promise to crush your opposition!! (Money back guarantee). But wait, there’s more. For no extra cost we will throw in opposition research on one long time friend. Wouldn’t it be cool over dinner to drop a little “turd in the punch bowl?” “Hey, tell me about when you _____,” then watch ‘em squirm!
Key Point:I’m obviously being totally facetious. I do get that politics is a win-lose game. I also recognize that one has to be “street wise.” However I am concerned that we could lose our balance on this matter. Most of us thankfully do no not break the law or overstep a reasonable moral code. If we do, the system, while imperfect, is there to address it. It also includes punishment and eventually forgiveness along the way. As human beings, we make stupid mistakes and hopefully learn and move beyond. Thankfully we get to wrestle with many of those privately. With the exception of the most egregious situations, we deserve to evolve so our life of contribution is measured by all we’ve done to make the world better. The idea of catching people doing things right versus researching to find what they’ve done wrong is of much more value to all. (Btw, if we knew about and publicized every stupid thing current CEOs did in their past, I believe we would have 100 percent turn over).
Actions you can take:
Don’t be a gossip at work (or anywhere). Ask yourself who is being served by such talk.
Think of competing against yourself to become a better contributing human being first. (Of course, protect yourself from someone who may hurt you).
Let people see your strengths. Be abundant. DO NOT try to make yourself look better by making others look worse. It decays our collective soul.
For You in Leadership,
One Millennial View: Character assassination by way of opposition research is in most cases, for lack of a better word, lame. Imagine hypothetically if instead of putting in the work to prepare for the Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams successfully protested to the NFL about the New England Patriots’ alleged former on-field indescretions. The NFL forces the Patriots to forfeit, and declares the Rams world champions by way of disqualification. Even though they did lose in real life, no competitive Rams player would want to win that way. In the workplace, if there are promotions by way of using opposition research to make others look worse, then where’s the personal satisfaction or morality in that?
Story: I have personally been involved with a professional sports franchise that brought current players and alumni together. When you put professional athletes from multiple generations in the same room, one sees the difference. The guys in Armani suits drinking fancy martinis look very different from beer drinking men in baggy old slacks. Virtually all current tier one male professional athletes are multi-millionaires. Their brothers from the past are starkly different. And many who starred in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s are below the poverty line, some even on welfare, with lousy health to boot. Lots of retired NFL players make the past athletic landscape even more ugly with serious opioid addictions that often lead to detrimental and painful outcomes. Read this Sunday NYT article for a staggering description of this NFL situation.
Key Point: Pro sports provide a poignant micro picture of what happens when people leave the spotlight. It is less dramatic in corporate life. However, I can assure you that people who wrap up their entire sense of purpose and well being into their work will be disappointed in a somewhat similar way. Executives will find that their “email prestige” stops almost overnight, and the loss of an executive assistant, expense account, and a full calendar of meetings leaves a world potentially more empty than anticipated. People at other levels will be surprised at how replaceable they are and the promise of staying in touch with most teammates inevitably fades, regardless of how well intended the commitment.
Actions we can take:
It is vital that we keep developing ourselves. NO ONE else owns your career development. Do not depend on anyone waking up thinking about what your next steps are going to be, or how your personal equity is increasing.
Remember that your job is usually NOT your life’s purpose. Hopefully it is a medium to act that out, but it’s generally NOT why you are here. You can lose a job, a career even, yet always retain your purpose and values. Discover that personal purpose. Be intentional about your values.
If you are doing anything that brings so much pain that you find yourself with an addiction, it is not worth it. No amount of money can ease that kind of pain.
After the spotlight,
One Millennial View: I remember being fascinated by an up-and-coming comedian telling a story on a podcast where he opened for a larger comedian at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. One minute he’s performing in front of 20,000 people at a legendary venue, and then when the show was over, he returned by himself to his quiet apartment in Queens. The next weekend, he was performing the same material for an unenthused gathering of 20 people in a small club in upstate New York. The giant contrast is a blunt reminder of the ups and downs we can all experience in our careers. Still, whether it was for 20,000 people, or 20, the purpose and values underlying his job remained the same. In this case, it was to spark laughter, but even with an enormous contradiction of audience size, he never asked that funny question, “what am I doing with my life?”