Anyone who has ever been involved in improvement will recognise the need for trust. It is an essential ingredient to generate productive employees and engaged stakeholders. A productive employee is someone that feels safe, safe enough to experiment and challenge, which is exactly what is required in all working environments, it’s also imperative for the improvement professional focused on step change improvement and innovation. An engaged stakeholder will provide valuable support to enable results through change, improvement, and transformation.
When working with people to change their thinking and/or the work they do, from where they are now (current position) to where they need to be in the future (desired outcomes), it is the bottom part of the Gibb model, how those people feel about it, which has the most influence over the success of the quality initiative, change or improvement.
Trust has a close partner in the form of respect, they are two sides of the same coin. When these go hand in hand, respect shifts from being a behaviour to become a deeper feeling.
Respect is like a baton passed off to someone who then passes it back. Thought of in these terms means that to gain respect, the feelings, needs, wants, ideas, fears, thoughts and preferences of others must be considered first. It’s about modeling the desired behaviours.
In the workplace, there are leaders who use power and/or fear to command respect. But does that work?
Sometimes it’s easy to forget in the heat of the moment, or when one is looking for a new behaviour strategy to make a change, how that behaviour will be interpreted and what impact it will have. Witnessing poor behaviour in others, particularly from a colleague or leader, makes others feel uncomfortable because trust gets eroded and respect is lost.
People who witness this style of behaviour naturally reflect, they stop trusting the colleague or leader concerned and as their trust diminishes, so does their respect.
When an improvement professional is trusted and respected, they earn the voluntary cooperation of others, people want to work with them and be involved with what they are doing. The actions of the improvement professional, their words and behaviours will enable them to build or lose the trust of others, and this is a critical component to their success.
Some people may only have to think about one or two of these levels in their daily work, but others may have to build respectful relationships at every level.
A theory suggests that the notion of respect dates to a time when mankind lived in tribes. As the tribes roamed, hunted and looked after its members, those who weren’t respected could be left behind in the wilderness, excluded from a share of the food, left out because they were considered to have no worth or value to the tribe.
It’s no different today. Every improvement professional, indeed any professional, needs to build trust and respect because when a working culture is founded on trust, loyalty is engendered.
Upstream the benefits of this approach mean that:
Trust and respect are the glue that holds relationships together. Where they exist, so does integrity, and where integrity exists for the skilled and dedicated improvement professional, success also resides.
This article was first published in Quality World, the membership magazine for the CQI.
Susannah Clarke is Managing Partner at Process Management International (PMI), Head of Skills & Capabilities Practice and a specialist in the field of Executive and Performance Coaching. Susannah has worked extensively in the learning and development sector, starting her career with NatWest Markets in the City before spending 17-years with GSK as a consultant.
In 2011 Susannah joined Oracle University as Partner Director for EMEA and in 2013 joined PMI as Managing Partner. As co-author of ‘Implementing ISO9001:2015” she brings together more than 35 years’ experience leading, managing and consulting across different organisations. Susannah has written several blogs and published many articles in leading process and Quality focused publications.