Monday, September 19, 2011

Trust and change

Trust is crucial for any change process. Without trust our colleagues may comply with our requests for changed behavior but they wont be committed to the change. They wont be engaged, they wont drive the change and so, ultimately, we are unlikely to reap the expected benefits.

Building trust in an organisation takes time. Building trust takes commitment and effort. It takes leadership skills. You have to listen, truly listen, to your organisation and act on what they tell you. You have to have an inclusive leadership style and an openness about your decisions. All change in people comes from within. You can in an organisation, of course, force people to comply with a decision but they will often lose motivation or in extreme cases work actively agains the decision. The best way is always to include people in the decision process, be open about the objectives and causes and, based on previously earned trust, obtain their commitment to the change.

I think many organisations lack an understanding of the difference between compliance and commitment. Or they don't care. Perhaps they are too busy or perhaps the effort necessary for commitment seems too much. One can say the difference is the energy and enthusiasm people put into the change process. With the rate of change in business and society today all organisations are likely to go through a change process, and for a great many this is a constant state. How successful this process is can determine the future success of the company. Commitment is key and therefore by extension trust is key. And you cannot make your organisation trust you. To do this you have to show that you trust the organisation to do the best job they can. This means delegation, no micro management, the freedom to be autonomous, inclusion in important decisions and a sense of togetherness.

So, in summary, if you want to achieve meaningful change in your organisation you have to build up trust in order to obtain the necessary commitment. And this process requires leaders with leadership skills and not spreadsheet-wielding managers.

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