How-to Not Inspire Trust

5 04 2010

TRUST: A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something :

relations have to be built on trust”

“they have been able to win the trust of the others”.

That’s the dictionary explanation for Trust.

Confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, credence. All words that engender Trust.

photo by Chris Sharp /

So what about HOW to gain someone’s trust? If you’re like me you will take most people at their word, you’ll trust them, until you have some experience to contradict that trust. You’ll also know how difficult it can be to trust someone again if they have misled you, been dishonest, or in the case of leadership – they don’t do what they said they would.

There is great insight from Todd Smith (Facebook) of Little Things Matter about how the little things we say and do impact the relationships we have (see Todd’s FB page or website for some ‘little’ insights into these things).  So after writing about the need for Trust in order to foster innovation, it got me thinking of  how a leader can undermine the trust they have from their people.

Don’t do what you said you would do – When you commit to something for one of your people and you don’t deliver, you are saying that they are not important. Something as simple as not sending promised information via e-mail can erode a little bit of that trust bank. In most situations, simply recognising you’re at fault (ie you forgot to send the email) can go a long way to keep trust.

You refuse to accept that you are wrong – Admit you stuffed up. This is actually something you can have fun with, and really ease the tension. I can recall a few times in my career when after giving my team instructions, having someone point out that I’m wrong. There is that moment where the rest of the team hold their breath waiting for a quick dressing down of such an insubordinate response to MY instruction. Doesn’t happen. I’m happy that my team feel that I am open enough to accept my own stupidity. To quote (I think) Monty Python “it’s better to be happy than right!” How true! Your team will be happy, and you’ll do things right.

You keep your people out of the loop – I can’t stress how important it is to keep the lines of communication open. The stuff that comes up for your team may seem trivial or unimportant to you at times, however if one of your people is talking to you, chances are it’s important to them. Sometimes they need you to provide direction. Sometimes they need you to confirm they are on the right track. Sometimes they just need to have someone LISTEN to what they are saying. Taking time out to listen to your people will not only provide opportunities to learn more about their needs, it will also allow YOU the opportunity to build their trust in you. If you take the time out of your busy schedule (ie give them your full attention – no checking e-Mail, no answering the phone) when they bring you the small stuff, then when it comes to the bigger issues, they will trust you to listen.

You remind your team when they have made a mistake – Sometimes you just know, because of your own experience, that an idea or suggestion is not going to work. You are happy to quote “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results”. Guess what? If it’s someone else’s idea, and they know they have your support to try something, then just maybe they will look at the ‘same’ thing in a different way (isn’t that innovation?). You learnt all you know from making mistakes (and from being successful), so how can your people learn if they don’t get the chance to make a few mistakes on their own. You should encourage them if they make a mistake – it shows you trust them. Ask them a few questions about what they could have done differently. Resist the urge to tell them what they did wrong (ie show them the benefit of your experience). Let them learn from their own mistakes. Every successful person has failed their way to success. What if Edison or Einstein gave up after the first failure?

I know theses four points seem like really simple things that we all “know” we should do. Being consistent (do what you say you’ll do), Taking responsibility for your actions (admit you could be wrong), being present in the moment (really listening to your people all the time), and letting your people learn from their mistakes, will add interest to your trust bank.

If you do these four things, then you’ll find the next focus group, workshop, or brainstorming session will see your team feeling they can trust you to let them put forward all their idea’s, no matter how outlandish they may seem at the time.

Who will you encourage to fail, and how will you help them succeed (and innovate!!)


InQ (Innovation Quotient)….is there such a thing?

29 03 2010


Yep, its Monday morning and with about 12 hours sleep I am kicking to continue developing my innovation quotient, which is like emotional intelligence, but innovative. So the theme for this week will continue with Innovation with Employee’s, and I am working through some interviews with businesses who see themselves as innovative with their employees. Should be some exciting conversations!

What’s Your InQ? (Innovation Quotient)

What's your Organisations InQ

Is there such a thing as InQ? Can we measure it?

There are IQ (Intelligence) and EQ (Emotional) tests out there to determine where you sit above or below the rest of the class, however is there a test for your business Innovation Quotient – InQ? I found an interesting study from the Gallup Management Journal (Engaged Employees Inspire Company Innovation). For me, the key take out from this article is the link between engaged employees, and how likely they are to feel supported to express creative ideas – even bad ones (if there is such a thing).

I’ve aways been an advocate for the engagement of your people, from the simple issues to the most complex problems.

Engaged employees feel more secure that their idea’s and suggestions will be heard. Think about the last time you put forward an idea that seemed far-fetched. How was the response? Were you laughed at, or were you supported, encouraged?

Even more importantly, when was the last time you had the chance to develop a ‘crazy’ idea to its fruition, and receive kudos for its success?

Now look at it from the point of view of your team – how do YOU respond when they throw an idea out for all to hear?

I’m not sure how you can assess an organisation InQ, or even if you should. Could we stifle innovation by putting a measure on it? Do we measure based on how extreme, unique, different, unlikely to be copied, etc, an “innovation” is?

One of the key factors to innovative success is in its acceptance, and like any change, no matter how great an idea, no matter how well the concept is received, its failure, or it’s success is determined more by the implementation than the innovation.

Are you engaging your employees to support or to stifle Innovation?

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.

My Head is a Little Colder

15 03 2010

On Saturday 13th March, a group of insane people gathered together at the Ori Cafe in Springwood (NSW) to have their head’s shaved or hair coloured, or in my case some hair waxed (or should I say ripped!) from my legs, but mainly to help raise money for The Leukaemia Foundation through the World’s Greatest Shave.

We raised about $500 on the day, with a preliminary total for Team People Motion of just under $1500. I had hoped we could raise more, however for me the greatest joy was seeing a couple of the families whose kid’s have leukaemia have some fun.

Every hour of every day, at least one person in Australia is diagnosed with a blood cancer, such as leukaemia, lymphoma, or myeloma. Every two hours, someone loses their life to blood cancer. The Leukaemia Foundation supports patients and their families so they can concentrate on what’s most important – getting well. It also funds vital research into better treatments and hopefully cures.

There is still time to donate to the World’s Greatest Shave and help more families.

I would also like to extend a big Thank You to the following businesses in Springwood who supported this event:

  • The Ori Cafe Thanks to Therese and Brad for allowing us to host the event at their business
  • The Gun Shearer Gents Hairstylists – Thank You to Tony and his wife who volunteered their time to shave our heads!
  • Faulconbridge Rural Fire Service – Thanks for the big red fire truck, and for spending your morning to help
  • Blooms The Chemist Springwood – Thank You for the kind donation of hair colour
  • Springwood Newsagent – Thank You to David Moss for the stationary
  • And  BIG THANK YOU to all who came on the day and donated, supported, and had some fun!!

Now for some photo’s

Rebecca Hulbert Before

Rebecca Hulbert and Nicky Clarke After

Colin Robertson before

Colin Robertson after

Ori Staff Rochelle and Sharna getting in on the Fun

Geoff Snowden before

Geoff Snowden after

Geoff Snowden of People Motion going through with his promised leg waxing

Benny and Georgia - A couple of really brave kids

Benny getting his hair coloured for the event

Brutal Truth or Your Own Fear?

2 03 2010

It’s an interesting thing to be developing and building a business from scratch. To slowly build on an idea over years, to see it progress from idea, to conception. To see the core idea remain the same, and the broader picture expand and collapse as idea’s grow and change.

Fake it or Make it?

Some would suggest that when starting out, ‘fake it till you make it”, pretend to be an ongoing success with hundreds of clients scrambling to your door, and you can’t keep up with the workload….had to blink for a moment, I know those days will come!

There is an element of believing in yourself and working constantly on your business regardless of how many customers, or fans, you do or don’t have.

I believe you need to “keep it real” and “be honest with yourself” (felt the need for a couple of cliche’s – can’t have you thinking it’s all my own work!) Starting a business is damn hard work, and the first twelve months can be some of the hardest you’ll go through.

I’ve been thinking over the last two weeks about the way people respond to another’s success, or failure. I’ve studied people’s behaviour, motivations, drives, responses to change, team dynamics, interpersonal behaviour and so on for about 15 years now, either through academic study or experiential application(using what you have learned through experience and putting it into practical application), and people never cease to amaze me, they surprise me, but never cease to amaze!

I’ll hear a comment about why I can’t do something, why I shouldn’t go down a certain path.I accept the feedback simply as data – it’s not good or bad, negative or positive, it’s just data. It’s what you do with the data that is important. When data resonates with me I hold onto it for awhile and work through the details in my mind.

Projection of our Fears

I’ve come across projection for as long as I have worked with people. It’s basically a defence mechanism we all use to attribute to others our own fears, unacceptable or threatening feelings that we have or are trying to repress,  and we “project” them on to someone else – a subordinate, colleague, friend, parent, child, ex-partner, etc.

Often we use humour to test our fears in a way that allows us to admit them without becoming too vulnerable, and the way in which our humour is accepted will determine if we will open ourselves up to being more vulnerable. Unfortunately most of us go around projecting without taking the time to reflect on what it is about another person that we dislike in ourselves. It may be an envy of their decisions, and anger at your own. It may be fear of your own failure, so you cannot see success for others.

So when next you find yourself preparing to lash out with some ‘data’, hold the thought, reflect on your fears, and ask yourself are you giving the feedback to someone, or are you expressing to yourself your own fears?

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Monkeys and Motivation

22 02 2010

I was on my friends farm…..and there was a monkey……..

So I’m guessing you wouldn’t have been drawn here if I told you I had a dream about being bitten by a monkey. It was amazing to me to see the huge response I got to the site with the heading Bitten By A Snake. It got me wondering about your motivation to read the article. Were  you were concerned, or just interested in the link between snake bites and management!

Motivation is an interesting place to think about. We know we ‘need’ to be motivated (either through self or someone else). Yet why do we struggle to find ways to motivate our people? Why do we get frustrated when we motivate one of the team with a reward of a movie voucher, yet another will not perform for the same incentive?

Where are the monkeys?

Abraham Maslow’s motivational research was initially formed through his studies on Rhesus monkeys. In terms of motivational theories, I’m referring to Maslow’s “Heirarchy Of Needs”. Maslow determined that there were 5 levels of motivation, and that each one built upon the other – Biological/Physical, Safety, Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualisation.


Food, Shelter, Clothing, sex, warmth. These are the initiall drivers that motivate us to get up in the morning. We need to eat, to have a roof over our head, to keep warm (or cool), and sex (in the first level of the heirarchy, sex is the need to pro-create).


To feel safe, secure, and have some stability in our lives. You could say this motivates us to work, or to place our selves in a situation where we can ensure the Biological needs can be met. We need money (ie we have to work) to pay for food, to pay the mortgage.

These first two levels are the basic and most fundamental motivators of the self. Without food, shelter, clothing, without a sense of security, we cannot move up the heirarchy. We won’t be motivated to ‘work as a team’ (ie Belonging), if we don’t have the money for food.


Family, relationships (and sex, but not for procreation), work groups, community involvement. Here we start to delve into the motivators that as a manger/business owner we can use to improve performance. This level finds us motivated to seek being involved with our families, the desire to get married, to have companionship, and to want to work within a team.

This is where some managers get stuck. If you have someone who is worried about their personal circumstances (eg an increase in mortgage rates and how they’ll pay the extra, or having trouble in their marriage), then they are focussed on meeting the needs of safety (eg security that their job will be there tomorrow so they can pay the bills, or stability on the home front). They cannot focus on being part of a team until the Saftey needs have been met.


Achievement, responsibility, status. This is where you can start to build performance. Often we’ll assume that pay is a motivator, eg the size of the annual pay increase or bonus. Remember that your people have this need (ie money) being met (Safety). It’s not always the case, but your people will generally put in more discretionary effort when they get recognition (achievement), or are given greater responsibility for their work output.

Self Actualisation

Personal growth, development, a sense of fulfilment. At the top of the heirarchy it’s personal. Being sent on a training course to learn how to use Excel may be seen by the employee as a Safety need (eg if they learn how to use Excel, they can do their job better and feel greater security). From the employee’s point of view, their need for development may be in having time at work to learn something unrelated to their specific role. For example, a call centre operator who wants to learn about the Learning & Development team as they are studying Workplace Training at a community college.

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine someone’s motivating needs. I’ve used The Predictive Index often with managers as it is a great tool to help you understand an individuals work behaviours and motivators. It can also be a great starting point for the conversation about what drives your people, without resorting to an explanation of Maslow!

When trying to understand your people’s behaviour , Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be a useful guide. You need to remember that the motivators are personal, and what to you may be a self actualisation need, for someone else may be a Safety need.

Bitten by a Snake!

12 02 2010

I was on my friends farm. His crops were looking pretty good. We were all outside laughing, having fun. Then someone yells “SNAKE”. People looking around frantically, trying to see the snake,  mainly to get out of the way. Then we hear a rattle, and see a guy with a shovel doing a Steve Irwin impression and he grabs it by the head…….next thing I’m up on the fence (I respect snakes enough to STAY out of their way), then on the ground with a snake around my head. Read the rest of this entry »