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Hybrid Work: The Hybrid Keystone – Trust

Hybrid Work: The Hybrid Keystone – Trust
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In our final post in the series on hybrid work, we consider the perception of trust, which is the foundation of every relationship:

  • Can employers trust that their employees will do their job working from home, not under their supervision in the office?
  • Can employees trust the work-from-home policies of their company are genuinely in the best interest of production for the company, or is it about supervisory control?

The tension between leadership and the workforce has never been greater regarding where the best work occurs. Employers see expensive empty offices and wonder if their team members are working. At the same time, employee fulfillment is high. Many employees feel they are more productive being able to work whatever time of day is best for them. In addition, they appreciate avoiding the unproductive commute, expensive lunches, and unproductive interruptions from others who seem to have little to do.

At the root of the work-from-home issue is . . . trust. It is true that a small set of team members cannot be trusted, whether leaders or team members. The question is, why are they still on your team? We have found, and Patrick Lencioni nicely lays out in his book The Five Dysfunctions of Team, that trust is the foundation of all relationships, partnerships, and working arrangements. If you do not have it, it’s just a matter of when you will fail. We witnessed this failure with a client we were working with, but trust was not present, and we could not demand it, and the company went out of business.

If organizations choose to retain team members who cannot be trusted, those team members will need to work from the office. All others in the organization strive to earn leadership’s trust that, regardless of where they work, they will be as responsible for performance standards as if they were in the office. If organizations desire to have days or weeks of required in-office attendance, they will need to explain why with data and a rationale that makes sense to team members. When leaders can explain the rationale, they build trust in leadership and the organization.

Top-down decision-making that tells team members what they will do without explanation erodes trust. The now commonplace job mobility market will impact untrustworthy organizations with costly turnover.

The J.M. Smucker Co. (Smucker) took considerable time to discuss internally the right thing to do in bringing team members back to the office. Through trial and error and data collection, they designed a model that required a minimum number of weeks of work in the office each year. They got feedback from their team members, listened, collected data on productivity, and developed a solution. Their work-from-home policies are dynamic and flexible and are open to change in the future, supported by more data and feedback that enables Smucker to be even more productive. Most importantly, it all makes sense to their team members.

Organizations must earn the trust of their team members, rather than expect blind trust. There is no greater cultural risk factor in determining an organization’s future than organizational trust.

Except for occupations like patient care, production, and much lab work, organizations will be challenged with team members who will expect to be able to work from home to some degree from this day forward. The success of organizations of the future will depend on how they choose to implement their policies regarding team members working from home. Will they do so in a way that earns the trust of the team members? Their organizational livelihood and success depend upon it.

#leadership #team #PeakPerformance #TeamDevelopment #ShiftFromMeToTeam #Trust #HybridWork