Monday, May 6, 2013

Knowledge Workers Need Our Trust

The other day I facilitated a lunchtime conversation with a group of managers who work in the community sector. Prior to the gathering I had invited them to read an article titled “The Manager Coach: A New Management Model for the 21st Century” (Rafael Echeverria). A central theme in Rafael’s article (which was written in 2005) was the need for managers to become coaches. An agenda I have been running for over 15 years. The manager-foreman ‘Taylorism Model’ proves to be extremely inadequate for most of the environments we now work in. Gone are the manual labour workers, nowadays we are ‘knowledge workers’. Echeverria makes some strong points in his article, they include:

  • Knowledge workers perform their work talking, either to yourself or to others. Your performance, therefore, not only depends on your knowledge, but also and in a not less important way, on your conversational competences.
  •  To manage a company is to take charge of this conversational system
  •  The notion of you being a ‘conversational agent’ leads us to look at the manager’s function with different eyes. We need to be conversational agents par excellence!
  • You can’t innovate, learn and generate new opportunities, if you are not allowed to make errors in the process. The error becomes a condition of achievement and it is important to newly legitimate it. It is no question to promote the error, but to place it at the service of results.
  • What favours the knowledge worker’s performance is a very different kind of emotion: trust.
  •  Managers need to be the guardians of staff’s trust, which is one of the most important teams' assets. You must know how to build trust, you must know how to destroy it in order to avoid it and you also must know how to rebuild it when it has been jeopardized.

In our lunchtime conversation the managers’ provided some great examples of work areas where the above is occurring. They also spoke about where it isn’t.  One of the interesting things that emerged was about how we can build Trust. I asked if they remembered the elements of Trust...alas they didn’t. So I took them through each element and they came up with examples. Sieler offers a Trust Model so you can support your knowledge workers.

Trust is an assessment (opinion or judgment) and can involve all or some of the following elements:
  • Sincerity (do people sincerely mean what they say)
  • Competence (do people have the skills/experience to fulfil the promise)
  • Reliability (part of competence – do they deliver on time and to agreed standards)
  • Involvement (attuned to others concerns as well as own)

What favours the knowledge workers performance is when you are trusted, remember ‘Trust is the glue that holds relationships together’ and ‘Trust is the emotional lubricant of organisations’.

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