… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

Trust me

Ah, trust. Trust is such a shaky concept. Trust is hard to develop, rarely given, and easy to lose. And yet if you want a cohesive team that works together to achieve goals, you need it. I doubt I could find one person who would disagree with that last statement. So why, WHY, does it so rarely happen in practice? Why is it so easy to pay trust lip service and then behave in a completely contradictory manner? What about misplaced trust in people in positions of power who don’t deserve it? Or not trusting those around you enough to relinquish any control whatsoever? For such a simple concept, it certainly is a nightmare to live up to.

But when it comes to trust in the workplace, you really only have one question to ask yourself: Do you trust your team members to do their job in a competent and ethical manner? Yes or No. No maybes or prevaricating allowed. Just a simple yes or no.

If your answer is Yes: Great! You have a team of people you can rely on to do their jobs and not embarrass you to your boss. Now here’s the hard part; Go treat them that way. Give them access to information they need, provide them with support and appreciation, leave them alone to do their jobs, and have their back when they need it. That’s all. If you truly trust your team then act like it. Don’t throw roadblocks in their way, micromanage them, or dole out information piecemeal because you are afraid someone, at some point, could abuse it.

If your answer is No: That’s too bad. So, how soon can you move them out of your company? That’s all. If you do not trust team members to do their job in a competent and ethical manner then why are you still employing them? Get started on that oh so important documentation, send them on their way, and go find an employee you can trust. Under no circumstances should you keep them around to drag your team and company down with them.

Do you disagree? Think there is a middle ground? Well, sorry but no. Trust may be difficult but it is also straightforward. You either do or you don’t and you should behave accordingly. To do otherwise is setting yourself up for failure. Either you’ll upset the employees you trust with your contradictory behavior and they’ll leave, or you’ll end up hanging on to bad employees who undermine your effectiveness. Are you re-thinking your answer? Re-evaluating your behavior?

Now I’m not saying that things like risk management, compliance, and security procedures should not exist. You know what they say, “Trust but Verify”. However, do not let fears of what someone theoretically could do stand in the way of what your employees need to do. Set up safeguards and checks to protect the company and clients and then let your employees do their job. If they violate that trust, take swift measures to correct the problem. In other words, manage your people like you trust them, or don’t bother at all.

6 Responses | Add your Own

  • 1 Dwane Lay :

    There is nothing in the world like trust. Free, but expensive. Ethereal, but you can almost touch it. Meaningless, but one of the most important things you can have.

    There is a great book called “The Speed of Trust” by Steven R.M. Covey (son of the Covey most people know). Does a nice job outlining how to build trust in a quick way, as well as the cost of not having it. Good read.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • 2 Shauna :

    Dwane – That was poetic Dwane! Thanks! 🙂

  • 3 Caryn Sarvich :

    Really nice post, Shauna. I so agree with your thinking.

    Dwane, we did training at my company on Covey’s “Leading at the Speed of Trust” for people leaders then included entire work teams. We received great feedback from participants. The shared language and focus on specific behaviors had a significant impact on culture and engagement.

  • 4 Jess Wilson :


    It’s a shame so many employers/managers get tripped up by the perceived ‘middle ground’ or their own speculative worries only to end up with an ineffective team. Your post makes it all seem so simple and straightforward! I hope more people take your advice, stop making excuses, and remove complicated thinking. Excellent article!


  • 5 Shauna :

    Jess – Thanks for the comment, there really is no middle ground when it comes to trust.

  • 6 Shauna :

    Caryn – Thanks! Saying one thing to your employees and then treating them differently is kind of a pet peeve of mine.