Unleash Capability:- increase trust, reduce fear.
A pithy statement firmly based on research and peer reviewed literature. There is little or no debate around the understanding that command and control leadership results in “anxious employees who are hesitant to take the initiative or trust their own judgment”. The contra position being that high-trust, low-fear organisations enjoy “organisational adaptability, innovation, and employee engagement”.
Required then, is a project to move from a fear and mistrust based “now” to trustworthy organisations of the future. Let’s call it MIX! – a band of like-minded individuals and organisations “dedicated to reinventing management in the 21st century.”
Basic (very basic) project management has three steps. Identify where you are, where you want to be, and the route from here to there. In truth steps one and three are quite clearly understood. Low trust to high trust – high fear to low fear. The short comings of command and control management giving way to the benefits of more inclusive practices.
There are even successful projects to show how the journey should go – and unsuccessful projects, as well. You learn as much (or more) from initial failure, as from success.
The problem then is why is mistrust and fear still extant? Why do not all, or even most, organisations make the journey? After all, it is clear that long term financial success is dependent on “increasing trust and eliminating fear.”
By what criteria is organisational culture determined? Is it even a conscious decision?
The performance of Boards and CEOs is measured predominantly in financial terms. If, as it seems, organisations of high trust and low fear enjoy significant financial rewards, why the poor take up of these initiatives?
Answer these questions, and you do not have a solution. What you have is a direction for encouraging change.
Consider the management Innovation eXchange. By itself can this initiative change the world? No, not in of itself. But as a representative of an underlying groundswell for change, yes. Change by erosion rather than revolution!
The practical impact of implementing organisational change such that trust increases, and fear decreases, is a net financial gain for the organisational.
Any project has costs and benefits. For any given organisation a financial return could be calculated for this type of culture shift. There are the initial costs implementing change, and then further costs maintaining that change in the short term. Interestingly, once embedded, such a culture is self-perpetuating with very little additional effort. There is evidence that a high-trust organisation would expend less resource “managing” staff than would a low-trust organisation. An element of self-management develops.
With measurable benefits there is the ability to calculate return on investment type numbers. It is possible a perceived lack of rigour in these calculations partially explains why many Boards do not see the benefits as clearly as academics. Perhaps an area for further investigation?
First steps are underway. Literature abounds with analysis of the benefits to high-trust, low-fear organisations.
The starting point is known, as is the destination. Even the route is mapped out for most organisations.
This Hack is not intended to point out something new or untried, but to acknowledge what MIX (and many others) is accomplishing in real time. Essentially the process of educating decision makers in what those decision makers should already know – that there is gold to be had in them thar hills.
By participating, I am doing my bit. After all, only in a high-trust, low-fear environment would I be willing to stick my head over the parapet.