Robby Slaughter, founder and principal of AccelaWork, proposed an interesting idea in a popular business magazine. ”Consider doing something drastic,” he challenged the journal’s readers. ”Trust your employees.”
In the an issue of The Indianapolis Business Journal, Slaughter’s article, “Give Employees Chance To Break Your Trust,” discussed how trusting employees—rather than monitoring their every move—can create a more innovative and empowering workplace. Below is an excerpt from the article: (direct link)
If you want the best team with the strongest commitment to ethical behavior, you must ensure they have every opportunity to lie, steal and cheat.
This strategy sounds radical and counterintuitive. Shouldn’t we closely monitor employee activity? Shouldn’t we keep interior doors locked, ration valuable resources, bolt down furniture and equipment, and install security cameras? These are certainly prudent actions to reduce the threat of abuse and criminal activity. However, most people—and furthermore, most employees—are honest, law-abiding citizens. Why do we build work environments that practically boast about how little we trust our workers?
. . .
Due to practical and legal restrictions, workplaces must have some policies and some monitoring. Yet at the same time, we can all acknowledge that responsible people thrive in an environment of freedom. Fewer restrictions and less bureaucracy create greater potential for innovation. Brilliance often requires knowing the rules and knowingly setting them aside. Most important, responsible people will work because they are driven by the satisfaction of progress and discovery.
Likewise, irresponsible people quickly stand out in a culture that emphasizes freedom. They will exploit any cookie jar left unguarded. They will be lazy and complacent. If they are rarely monitored, their work will barely advance. Autonomy is a kind of disinfectant that almost instantly highlights those who would violate your trust.
Establishing trust in the workplace not only boosts employee morale, it creates confidence and mutual respect among stakeholders. As Slaughter concluded in his article, “The best teams succeed despite all the restrictions and paranoia that limit their activities . . . those worth keeping will take root and flourish in the open sun.”
To learn more about AccelaWork’s philosophies on workplace success and productivity, reach out to our business process improvement consultants today!