How Can You Inspire Without Trust?

25 03 2010

I’ve been wondering about innovation over the last few days, and about inspiration. Where do they come from? Where do you find inspiration, and when does it become innovation? I’m working on a series of items about these topics in preparation for a seminar on innovation and employees.

Photo by Francesco Marino

Yes, my business tag line is “Involve, Inspire, Innovate” so I guess these three area’s are always top of mind for me. I have seen some fantastic improvements in workgroups when managers shed the tie, roll up their sleeves, and sit down as one of the team to work through the things that are bugging their people. I am a firm advocate of collaboration across workgroups, teams and levels, and I’ve written about this previously

So that’s the “Involve”, What about the “Inspire”

The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be. Horace Bushnell

I find I am inspired by some of the people I associate with. People who have had some challenges in their life, and refused to be a victim. However I still need to get up every day and inspire MYSELF….it’s personal. How do you inspire your people? It can be such a difficult thing to do, as we are all so unique and what inspires one, can bore another.

Is it “Lead by example”? Is it “Walk the Talk”?

One of the worst forms of inspiration I see in business, is when the company “mission/vision” statement  or the ‘company values’ is forced upon the organisation. A great example (or perhaps a poor example) was when an organisation I worked for spent ridiculous amounts of money printing little cards sprouting the mission, vision, and values.

Screen savers were uploaded across the network, posters put up in the call centres.

Letters were sent to EVERY employee’s home address.

And by far the worst…..KPIs were amended to reflect how staff performed in relation to the company “values”. All of a sudden, individuals were being expected to reflect imposed values. Now in most cases the values were of the stuff we would see as part of day to day….around providing great customer service, being nice to each other (and I am specifically being vague so as NOT to identify the org).

One of the specific values however was around “Trust”. Now I think that is a great value to have – to be trustworthy, and to give trust, but the issue for staff was in the lack of trust being shown by the same managers who were scoring others on trust issues. There were in inconsistencies in the behaviour being displayed, and the behaviour being talked about. Trust is extremely difficult to gain back once you have lost it, in personal or professional situations.

As a manager, or a business owner, EVERYTHING you do is on display, and all your people are looking to see how you respond (or react), and this sets the example for how your people are allowed to behave. If you do not act in a trustworthy manner, then why would you expect your people to trust you at your word? If you cannot gain trust from your people, then how will you ever hope to inspire them to achieve more?

Got any Innovative ways to Inspire your people? Comment below.

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