Posts Tagged trust

Liar, liar, pants on fire

Remember chanting this on the playground years ago when one of the other kids was caught fibbing?  Or having it chanted at you?  This expression, like another childhood taunt I recently wrote about, is experiencing a nostalgic revival thanks to the social web.

There’s a lot of talk about transparency lately, but I really don’t think it’s sinking in with some companies.  Today, more than ever, it’s important to walk the talk.  Your officers, employees and customers are becoming increasingly well connected every day and the new pervasive connectivity is raising the urgency of keeping your messages honest.

I got another email from one of the unofficial alumni sites the other day.  This one said that I should hurry up and check my profile because someone had just signed my guestbook! Later that day during a quiet period I took a look, and the most recent addition to my guest book was over 4 months old.  For the alumni site, it’s the old good news/bad news routine.  The good news for them is that I did visit the site and increase their traffic.  The bad news is I’m not falling for their crap again.

If you’re a large company, it’s probably not a good idea to claim the green high ground by saying you’ve eliminated business travel when you have hundreds of employees tweeting their actual travel plans.  A smaller company would do well to proactively disclose limitations before their consumers do so.  You see, transparency can be expensive when it’s sudden and unanticipated; however, if you invest in your processes and employees, transparency is not only free, it will actually pay dividends.

It should come as no surprise that your business is subject to unprecedented scrutiny.  Do not fear that, embrace it.  Understand your purpose, your differentiation and your goals and take every opportunity to teach and reinforce them.  Create an atmosphere of integrity and trust at all levels of the organisation.  If you are pure of heart and realistic in your claims, empowering your employees and customers to openly communicate will create not destroy loyalty, and loyalty is an extremely precious commodity.

Do you agree?

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Doctor, I’m losing my voice

More of us are losing our voices when we go to the doctor, it seems.  No, it’s not laryngitis, but it does seem to be contagious.  Apparently the practice of getting patients to sign waiver forms to prevent them from posting criticism on the Internet about their doctors is catching on.  At least that is what is being reported in several newspapers in recent days.

It’s another example of the perils of open communication.  More patients are sharing their experiences, both positive and negative, in online review forums and social networks, and that is causing some aches and pains.   Some doctors are complaining that the proliferation of medical consumer forums is putting them in a difficult position.  Since trust is such an integral part of the medical profession, the potential damage of a negative review is significant.  An ounce of prophylactic privacy, these medicos say, is better than a pound of cure; so, instead of the prescription pad they reach for the legal pad.

Still, getting a patient to give up his or her right to a public opinion seems a high price to extract in return for treatment.

Doctors are saying that they have to protect their online reputations and that the forms are a useful tool to get web sites to remove negative comments, but the backlash could be a bitter pill to swallow.

How would you react if your doctor demanded that you sign such an agreement?

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What’s your view of collaboration?

Practically every executive I meet with these days wants to talk about collaboration.  The interesting thing is, in most cases it quickly becomes clear that what they really want to discuss is optimising delegation.

While moving from “command and control” to “communicate and collaborate” is the stated goal of many leaders, you don’t see very many of these actually relinquishing command.  Most think they are collaborating when in fact all they are doing is spreading the responsibility more widely.  And in that case, to quote an old expression, “Unless you’re the lead dog the view never changes.”

One of the potential benefits of improved organisational communication is the power of democratising the business. Today’s use of collaboration as a buzzword is eerily reminiscent of the “empowering the worker” jargon of the 80s.  A lot of companies talked about it, but only a few led the transformation and capitalised on the benefits.  To those few the strategic advantage became huge.

So it’s interesting to talk to business leaders today and hear them talk about change, and it’s fascinating to discuss new technologies and innovative business process, but at the end of the day, more often than not, the real transformation of their organisations will only occur through a careful self-analysis by these executives, and an actual commitment to personal transformation.  Because unless they are truly willing to trust the team they’ve built, and distribute not only responsibility but authority, it’s all just academic.

What does collaboration look like to you?

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Remote Control

You don’t get much more remote than my ranch office; it’s 30 miles by highway to the nearest stoplight. And other members of my team are geographically dispersed as well. So it was with great interest that I read an article by Elizabeth Garone in The Wall Street Journal that deals with the challenges of managing remote employees.

Among her recommendations for success:

  • Hire people who are successful at working independently
  • Set expectations and define the conflict resolution process early and often
  • Train the team members in the technologies you use to communicate
  • Gather information on the team members in order to form a more complete picture of them
  • Communicate in clear, simple terms

Another concept that Elizabeth discusses is the need to form deep, personal relationships early on in the collaborative engagement. She recommends traveling to the employees’ locations regularly in order to establish and maintain these ties.

The most emotionally charged times in the life of a group project are when the team first forms, during sensitive conflict resolution and when the results are delivered. When a team is spread around the world, it’s hard to establish the necessary early trust or successfully manage conflict.

Often times technology can be used as a catalyst to the formation of trust early in the life of a project team. By bringing virtual teams together via online meeting tools, the emotional sense of connectedness can be increased, ultimately leading to greater success. And the depth of understanding that multimedia communications tools bring can also help make sure there are no misunderstandings during critical negotiations.

These tips apply to particular projects, but in a world where remote workers are becoming more commonplace there’s a need to make all employees feel connected as well.  Debbie Tegart talked about this issue of connectedness recently and says that, “Remote workers quit more times than not because of lack of connection NOT because they are unhappy with their job description/tasks.”  She recommends using technology to make resources more immediately obvious and to increase a remote worker’s sense of belonging.

Leaders who understand and use these tips can increase the success and satisfaction of their remote teams.

What tips do you have to help improve remote relationships?

Roger Farnsworth

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Finding the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer

We are seeing an explosion of social networking tools that are designed to bring people together — tools that make it possible for people to connect more easily. James Surowiecki describes the opportunity that comes from capturing the wisdom of crowds; but what if you have a need to capture the wisdom of an individual?

How do you unlock the specialised knowledge that exists in your organisation? There is an amazing wealth of experience and opinion out there, but in many cases it’s trapped in the minds of the individuals. Individuals who, for whatever reason, might be reluctant to advertise their unique value.

Gia Lyons talked about this a while back:

Why is it so hard to get your smart people to share? Because human beings typically share their precious knowledge only with people they trust. Not a software application.

Ah yes. Trust.

Gia goes on to talk about how the spoken word is more effective than the written word in both transmitting knowledge and increasing trust in a relationship. I think that’s very true.

Taking it one step further, I think that direct communication that contains elements of visual connectedness includes an additional emotional component that can expedite the formation of trust.

Combining social networking tools that help manage the complexities and details of large numbers of relationships with advanced communication tools that can increase the effectiveness and depth of a conversation is the best of both worlds.

Roger Farnsworth

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