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Secrets of Success

Who Do You Trust? Part One

The Low Trust/High Control Culture

I recently received a call from a board member of one of my organizational clients. He was excited about the company’s upcoming monthly meeting and wanted to make sure I would be able to attend. He informed me, in confidence, that there was going to be a “big announcement.”

The next week I made my way into the company auditorium and watched as the “big boys” filed in.The company had been having morale trouble for quite some time. They were using a team approach to running the company and it wasn’t working. Employees were surveyed to find out how the organization could improve. The results were never published. The pleas for change from thoughtful people in positions of power went unheeded. Good people had been leaving right and left and trust and confidence in the leadership was way down.

As the meeting began, the board members appeared downright giddy. The chairman began by telling the assembled group that they had been speaking among themselves for quite some time and had concluded that “adjustments” needed to be made at the leadership level. With that they introduced the new CEO.

You could have heard a pin drop.

The applause they had expected was nowhere to be found. In place of the smiles they anticipated were blank stares.

The meeting was adjourned and the members of management asked to speak to me. “What happened?” they asked. “Why the thundering silence?”

As one member began to talk about the “ingrates” that worked there I gently interrupted.

The people were not excited, I explained, because they did not feel involved. The company had been secretly discussing a change for a year and had done nothing to inform the employees of neither their plan nor their progress. Since they had shown no trust in their employees, why did they assume those same employees would be interested in a decision they had no part of?

The organization is a classic case of a high control/ low trust environment.

This month we’ll look at the nature of that environment.

The Low Trust/High Control Culture

The Nature of Control and Trust
Many human beings have a strong need for certainty. One of the ways they try to achieve this is by attempting to control the behavior of people in their
environment. In the low trust/high control culture, people trust only themselves. The people that remain in these environments are often intelligent people with low self-esteem – easily controlled and easily defined by others.

The Nature of Managing People
The low trust culture environment is a scarcity-driven “glass half-empty” world. In a low trust culture, people are given responsibility by those in power, but are often not given the tools or resources they need. Managers often disagree among themselves. Reaching consensus is difficult. Follow through is
inconsistent. Micro managing is common. Progress is monitored, but consistent positive feedback is rare.

The Nature of Involvement and Commitment
Because people in a low trust culture don’t feel true involvement, they often have no real sense of commitment. Despite the high level of stress that this lack of commitment creates, people stay in these environments for any number of reasons: Their self-esteem is so low they’re afraid no one else would hire them, they think if they stick around long enough they can “fix it,” or at the end of the day they’re so exhausted they don’t have the energy to look for another job.

Despite these fears, many people do leave creating a revolving door of personnel and making the creation of cohesive teams very difficult.

If this sounds like your environment, take heart! Next month we’ll explore how one creates a high trust/ low control culture.

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CTS Consulting, Inc

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Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

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