Shiftiez Insider

Build Trust Not Procedures

Sep 20 John Webster Motivation, teamwork, Trust

I’ve had a few jobs in my lifetime. Being a Gen X I’ve (perhaps typically) never sought the 30-year service award. Despite my generation’s penchant for job hopping, there have been a couple of roles where trust has played an important factor in my wanting to stay or not. Delving deeper into the topic of trust in business, it’s become apparent to me that teams that trust each other have a significant tactical advantage over their competitors.


“Trust is like a vase.. once it’s broken, though you can fix it the vase will never be same again.” — Unknown

Building trust in your team ultimately builds higher performanceCompanies need to have some procedures and protocols, they form standards by which we measure our activities and protect the business and staff, but they can quickly consume innovation.

I’ve built policies around the use of company equipment in several roles, looking back I can’t see they’ve been a useful exercise. In managing company phones, I dutifully listed measures for personal calls, what damage was covered, when to call overseas etc. The grief in managing who’d done what and who was responsible for costs far outweighed the benefit of such a policy. It also set me up for an “us and them” challenge with colleagues that I didn’t want. (I eventually cottoned on to how to do this much better but that’s fodder for another post)

Policies often hardwire in the lowest common denominator rather than focus on striving for new goals. When we’re presented with boundaries everywhere who could be bothered looking for new frontiers?

A better way to manage is to keep an open dialogue on company goals and how the business is tracking, trusting staff to stretch and encourage everyone to think outside the box. Any discussion on performance, safety, effort, quality and cost control becomes self-correcting with the right attitude, and people’s attitude picks up when they have a say in how things are done.

The Society for HR Management recently published an interesting white paper on trust and welfare drawing on a number of previous studies in this area. In a changing work environment, They noted:

"Many employers have yet to fully understand the central importance of favorable relationships with employees to reducing absenteeism as well as enhancing dedication to organizational objectives and increasing performance."

Business increasingly is being asked to assess progress and pivot. Be lean. Be agile. These things can’t be achieved with the baggage that comes from too many procedures. If you’ve got great people working for you, why aren’t you trusting them to excel rather than holding them back with more rules?


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John Webster

Written by John Webster

John is the Founder and CEO of Shiftiez. With a background in running IT teams, he founded Shiftiez to look for ways to improve people's work/life balance through technology.