When trust is at riskMany years of tertiary study has helped me to develop a healthy and intentionally critical approach to reading research studies and their associated findings. While reading and reviewing, I’m constantly asking myself “Yes… and what else?” or “Yes… but what’s missing?” or variations on those questions.

While I don’t advocate that approach to life in general, recently I’ve been applying these questions to what I’m seeing in many corporate strategies that are attempting to ‘engage’ employees to be more intrinsically motivated to work to their potential capacity and therefore, to achieve more productive and profitable outcomes for the organisation.

To keep this post brief, I won’t attempt to list the far too many employee engagement strategies that are being implemented in different organisations across a diverse range of industries and professions. However, what I do want to suggest, is when employees are internally questioning trust within the organisation (whether that’s self-trust, trust in others, or others trusting in them), the reality is that regardless of which employee engagement strategy or strategies are being implemented, they will never be as successful as they could be, unless the issue of dis-trust (disengaged trust) is not addressed.

My questions of “Yes, and…” and “Yes, but…” can certainly be helpful here.

YES, we’re implementing this series of employee engagement strategies, AND to ensure they become a trusted part of our culture, WHAT ELSE will we need to do?

YES, we’re implementing this series of employee engagement strategies, BUT to ensure they become a trusted part of our culture, WHAT’S MISSING or WHAT’S NOT WORKING that we need to fix?

One of the many paradoxes of attempting to harness the potential of employees, is the obvious need for an integrated approach that deals with the many aspects that make up the motivation and capacity of any individual or collective. At the same time, the short term focus for many organisational leaders (because of the pressure of Boards and Shareholders), is driving short term fixes, quick fixes, and seeking strategies that will achieve ‘early wins’.

Finding the balance between the required (often) longer term integrated approach to behavioural change and achieving some early wins with some quick fixes is never easy, however, the key, as is in most if not all cases, rests with Intention.

When leaders clearly articulate their intention (what they want for and not just what they want from all stakeholders) for whatever strategy they implement, the stakeholders, including importantly the employees, can more readily assess the level of trust they have in the WHY of the strategy. When they make the assessment, based on the intention, as being worthy of their trust, implementation, engagement and success increase at a much quicker pace than when trust is at risk… because when trust is at risk, everything is at risk.