In spite of our amazing technological advance, the work of an
organization is still accomplished by people. It is people who
interface with the customer, make the product, deliver the
service, plan and coordinate how work gets done, improve
processes and systems, ensure quality, and return a profit.
Technology has provided us with better tools, but it is still
people who do the work of an organization and are ultimately
responsible for its success.
Therefore, one of the challenges of any and all organizations is
to create a climate of trust in which people collaborate and
work together effectively. When trust is absent, relationships
are characterized by an adversarial attitude of me vs. you and
us vs. them. Rather than goodwill, there may be deep, often
hidden, animosities and resentments. We struggle against
one another for what we want. The more you win, the more I
lose and vise versa. Respect is lost and our performance is
compromised as our energies go into manipulation, coercion,
and protection rather than working towards our shared vision.
I believe it is not presumptuous to assert that the most
successful organizations of the 21st century will be those that
know how to create a climate of trust among all of their
employees. Doing so is not easy and will require the
alignment of philosophy and organizational design. However,
even more important than these elements is the quality of our
person-to-person interactions. Trust is a highly subjective
experience that is strengthened or weakened each day
through our interactions, the respect we demonstrate, the way
we talk to people, and the way we go about working out our
differences of opinion and competing needs.
Most organizations are filled with intelligent, capable people
who are stifled because of a lack of personal communication
skills or because of a larger organizational environment that
does not support honest and direct communication. Lacking
constructive ways of talking, particularly about politically
sensitive matters, people learn to avoid or play political games,
but at a high cost. Good ideas fail to make it to the light of
day. Valuable employees lose their desire to contribute.
Organizations that take the time to learn the principles and
skills of trust and interpersonal dialogue will dramatically
increase their effectiveness. Employees will thrive and teams
will perform at a higher level. All of which means an increase
to the organizations bottom line. Real world skills make a
difference...especially heading into 2009.