July 18, 2016


My T’s were “Technology, Trust and Turnover”. As I was reminded by one of my overseas students last semester, turnover can mean either people or money moving in and out of the organisation and in this case, the focus was on people. And because people are so important in our business, today’s section is an extract from Trust.


As for trusting others, I have a long history of believing people until they prove themselves to be untrustworthy or liars. Even though I’ve been caught out over time and had some difficult situations to deal with as a result, I prefer to trust rather than not. There’s a great quote from Abraham Lincoln: “it’s better to trust and be disappointed occasionally than to distrust and be miserable all the time” (quoted in Rosner& Halcrow 2010, p.84). It’s better to take that view because research shows that our accuracy in deciding whether or not someone can be trusted tends to be “only slightly better than chance” (DeSteno, 2014, 113). Apparently, we place too much emphasis on reputation and perceived confidence and don’t rely enough on our intuition. Lencioni (2005) talks about the importance of vulnerability-based trust and the importance of building trust by sharing life stories and of phrases such as “I’m wrong”, “I’m not sure”, “I made a mistake”.

You have to:

Trust when you go on holidays.

Trust when you share a secret.

Trust that someone is working hard/well.

Trust that people have the best interests of the organisation at heart.

Trust that they are telling the truth.

Trust that your trust is being returned.

Even when you might be trusted as a person for some people, particularly unionised staff, that trust will always be qualified by your role. I remember a constant refrain through the negotiations of my first enterprise agreement at MTC. To paraphrase it was ‘You’re ok, we trust you, but what about the next person?’ As it turned out, I was the only person they had to worry about for the next 18 years and through four agreement negotiations but underlying the line was an implicit lack of trust in ‘management’. And because you are ‘management’, don’t be surprised if the things you say – even perfectly innocuous statements – are given deep and sinister meaning. I still remember thanking an artist after a preview but hearing later that because I either wasn’t effusive enough or detailed enough, they took it to mean that I hated the show. Needless to say this wasn’t the case – I just thought it was appropriate to make a brief comment and get out of their way so they could continue to work on the show.




DeSteno, D 2014, ‘Who Can You Trust?’ Harvard Business Review, 92(3):112-115


Lencioni, P 2005, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide to Managers, Leaders and Facilitators, San Francisco, Jossey Bass