Building Higher Trust 10 Trust and Customer Retention

February 25, 2021

It is especially important for employees who interface with customers to work in a culture of high trust. If the esprit de corps within your group is high, it will attract customers to return to your business.

If your employees are bickering among themselves and with their managers, it will have a chilling impact on your revenue because customers will turn elsewhere.

Spotting the Level of trust

It takes only a few seconds for most people to identify the level of friendship and bonding between employees. It is in the body language between people. They do not even need to say anything for the level of trust to be evident.

For example, when the supervisor walks by, two employees might roll their eyes ever so quickly to signal their displeasure. The gesture would not be noticed by the supervisor but might be evident to customers who are observing.

A snarl of the lips when one person is talking at another person is a sign of displeasure and low esteem. It casts a negative shadow on the business.

Avoid Phony Graciousness

People can also spot a phony display of cordiality, because there will be a tinge of sarcasm that shows through. The affection that people feel for each other needs to be genuine or the effect will be negative.

Generate a true Culture of Trust

Work to create a real environment where people support each other and display a fondness for working together. If people are playing games with each other to try to impress customers, it will be evident, and your company will suffer for it.

Bonus Video

Here is a brief video about Trust and Customer Retention

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 1000 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations



Leadership Barometer 81 Build a SAFE Environment

February 22, 2021

There are hundreds of assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. You can spend a lot of time and money taking surveys to tell you the quality of your leadership.

There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. These are not good for diagnosing problems or specifying corrective action, but they can tell you where you stand quickly. Here is one of my favorite measures.

Build a SAFE Environment

In most organizations, there is a continual environment of fear. What we need to realize is that there are different kinds of fear. There is the fear due to market conditions or competition that may make a company go bankrupt.

We have learned over the past decade that just because a company is great now is no guarantee it will even exist in a year or two. There is really no such thing as job security anymore. As an example, look at Circuit City. Back in 2002, it was on top of the heap, and even qualified as one of the “Great” companies in Jim Collins’ book Good to Great. By 2008, the company was history. So, it is not surprising that few people feel the kind of job security that most individuals felt in the 80’s and 90’s. It is just a fact of life, and that kind of fear needs to be used to create the impetus to do better on a daily basis.

Create Psychological Safety

The more crippling kind of fear is a nagging feeling that if I tell the truth about something to my boss, I am going to suffer some kind of punishment. It may not be an immediate demotion or dismissal, but eventually I will be negatively impacted in ways I may not even recognize. So, I clam up and do not share thoughts that could be helpful to my organization.

Great leaders create an environment of psychological safety, where this kind of fear is nonexistent. Reason: The lack of fear will allow trust to grow, and in a trusting environment the organization has a much better chance to flourish.

What is the mechanism by which great leaders create psychological safety? They do it by reinforcing candor. They let people know they will not be punished for speaking their truth.

On the contrary, these leaders show by deeds that people who speak up are actually rewarded for sharing something scary or just not right. That gives these leaders the opportunity to correct small problems before they have huge negative consequences for the organization. That is brilliant leadership!

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations. He can be reached at bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585-392-7763.



Talent Development 26 Communication

February 17, 2021

Section 1.1 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Communication. Section C reads, “Skill in conceiving, developing, and delivering information in various formats and media.”

I will share my process for injecting a great variety of communication tools in my leadership development work.

In a world where increasingly we do training and development remotely, it is imperative to spice up the content using a variety of communication methods to keep people from zoning out. Let’s apply this idea to several areas of leadership training.


Starting up

Have some kind of ice breaker or informal discussion to get people feeling comfortable with communicating openly. This activity is especially important if the group is just meeting for the first time.

Do not belabor this start-up ritual, but do provide some informal way to get things going. I like to go around the room and have all participants introduce themselves and state what they hope to get out of the training. Then I can make a comment.

For example, if one person says she wants to know how to build higher trust within her group, I might say “I’m glad you brought that subject up, Kathy. We will be covering the concept of building higher trust extensively in session two of this course.”

Brainstorms

You can get people involved by asking them to come up with a lot of ideas on a specific topic. You can work as a large group or put people into breakout rooms for more intimate discussions. If you do the latter, make sure to have each room appoint a spokes person who can report ideas generated to the larger group once people return.

Slides

The use of PowerPoint or some other form of content delivery is essential to keep things on track, but you must avoid the “death by PowerPoint” syndrome. Here are some rules I use to keep the PPT from taking over and putting everyone to sleep.

1, Less than 5 bullets on each slide and less than 8 words per bullet
2. Use a plain white background
3. Include a photograph (not clip art) to illustrate the concept being discussed. Be sure to obtain a license for each photograph used. If you can find something humorous or provocative to illustrate your point, that helps.
4. Never read your slides. Talk about the concepts and ask questions. Engage the group.
5. Move quickly unless you are embellishing the content with a story or some kind of gag.
6. Switch in and out of the screen share frequently to add variety.

Stories

Work to add stories (humorous or serious) to help illustrate your points. Keep the stories brief and always ask if anyone in the group has a story they wish to add.

Demonstrations

It helps to have some demonstrations with actual props. That practice engages the brain in a different way and keeps the mind fresh. I have several quirky demonstrations to enhance my training. For example, here is a brief video of a demonstration I call my “Trust Barometer.”

Illusions

I use magic illusions to break up the presentation and to keep people fresh. The illusions need to be very well done and professional, and they must bear some relationship to the topic being discussed. For example, in a module on managing change, I might do a coin trick to help illustrate it.

Videos

I have a collection of over 200 videos I can draw on to liven the discussion and give participants a break from listening to me. Some of these are humorous and others are inspirational. The feedback from participants is always that the videos provide excellent inspirational content in a different format. I generally try to work in a video during every couple hours of classroom time. The videos range in time from 5 minutes to 25 minutes.

Role Playing

I have frequent role play exercises where I send people off in pairs or triplets to act out a scene. This technique gets tricky, because I need to arrange different scripts for each participant. It takes advanced planning to pull this off, and I need to pay attention to who is in which room. For example, if the role play is between a supervisor and a problem employee, each person will have instructions that look at the situation from just their point of view. They are blind to the point of view of the other person until the role play begins.

Polling

I insert polls on occasion so participants get physically involved in the presentation. It is important to debrief each poll stating the conclusion that can be drawn.

Annotating

I use the various annotation tools to help provide emphasis on certain slides. I am careful to not overuse the technique frequently enough to annoy people. Perhaps one in 20 slides will be suitable for annotation in some form.

Chat

The chat room is an excellent way to get people involved or allow them to ask questions on the fly. The challenge here is to be able to monitor the chat while you are still facilitating the entire class. I find it difficult to keep up, so I normally appoint someone to monitor the chat and rotate the chore for each class to share the load.

Debrief

Always allow time at the end of a session to debrief. Ask the group what went well for them and what things I might have done differently. Listen carefully to the input and make the appropriate adjustments for future sessions.

Conclusion

Delivering the content in this variety of ways makes the class time go quickly and helps the group retain the material longer. Participants report having a “great time” while learning some important new skills.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.








Building Higher Trust 9 Trust and Communication

February 13, 2021

Communication is one of the most foundational skills in any organization. Leaders spend a lot of time communicating with people in their organization, yet when workers are asked what the most significant blockage is to motivation, most groups report that communication is the biggest problem.

In this brief article I will explore the relationship between how well communication works in a high trust environment versus a low trust environment.

When Trust is Low

Even in a world where everyone is physically in one place, communication becomes chancy if there is low trust. People tend to hear what they believe the leader is trying to say rather than what was actually said. It is so easy to get the wrong flavor of a message, and the real damage is done because the leader often does not know that his or her message was misinterpreted.

When Trust is High

When Trust is high, people have an easy time hearing the real message and interpreting it accurately. In these cases, the leader can tell by the body language whether the workers have absorbed the true meaning. This is true both in person and virtually.
With high trust, people will not feel intimidated if they are unclear about the real message. They will feel free to ask a question for clarification because there is psychological safety, and they know a legitimate question will not lead to them feeling punished.

Working Remotely

The issue of accurate and believable communication is amplified significantly when we have a hybrid workforce where some people are working in the office but others are working remotely, sometimes even in another country, where time zone and cultural issues can exacerbate the problem. It is so easy to have the remote workers feel at least inconvenienced or at worst left completely out of the tight communication loop.

That is why it is imperative that all leaders redouble their efforts to communicate as much or more with the remote people as they do with the people close at hand. Try to beat down the “us versus them” issues that result in silo thinking.

Conclusion

When trust is low, communication is going to be chancy and difficult to control. This is true for all types of communication, including electronic communication. When trust is high, there is a much better chance for robust and acceptable communication. Trust becomes a significant enabler of effective and timely communication.


Bonus Video

Here is a brief video on Trust and Communication.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 1000 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations


Leadership Barometer 80 Lowers Credibility Gap

February 10, 2021

There are hundreds of assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. You can spend a lot of time and money taking surveys to tell you the quality of your leadership.

There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. These are not good for diagnosing problems or specifying corrective action, but they can tell you where you stand quickly. Here is one of my favorite measures.

Lowers Credibility Gap

In any organization, credibility gaps exist between layers. These gaps lower the trust within the organization and make good communication more difficult. The credibility gaps may exist for a number of different reasons. I will share a few common examples for clarity, but recognize there can be hundreds of different causes for the gaps.

1. Managers may believe most of the workers are not working up to capacity in order to have an easier time. The manager perceives a lack of dedication by the lower-level workers.

2. Workers may not trust the managers because they believe the managers are insincere or really just don’t care about the workers. They are in it just to make more money.

3. Non-local workers, or those working remotely, may believe the people at the main office have built-in advantages and perks.

4. People may think they are not being given the full set of information and that some vital points have not been shared, like a potential plant shutdown.

5. Gaps in communication between on-site and remote staff can create mistrust.

Fill in the Gaps

Great leaders have a knack for lowering these gaps, first by recognizing their existence, and second, by filling in believable information in both directions, up and down the hierarchy.

These gaps form much more easily in an environment where some people are working remotely, so extra care must be extended during those interactions. The cure is to increase communication with people when they are working remotely.

When there is tension between one layer and another, great leaders work to find out the root cause of the disconnect. It could be a nasty rumor, it could be based on a prior breach of trust, it might be an impending reorganization or merger, it could be due to an outside force like a new government restriction. Whatever the root cause will determine how the gap can be eliminated.

Conclusion

Excellent leaders take steps to reduce the problem while the gap is a small crack and before it becomes like the Grand Canyon. They help people breach the divide by getting the two levels to communicate and really negotiate a better position. Weak leaders are more like victims who wait until the battle is raging and the chasm is too broad to cross without a major investment in some kind of bridge.




Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations


Talent Development 25 Organizational Development Strategy

February 8, 2021

Section 3.3 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Organization Development and Culture. Section A reads, “Skill in designing and implementing organizational development strategy.”

I will share my process for helping organizations establish a constructive pathway for organizational development. The process always starts with knowledge of the organization.

Research

You must be intimately familiar with the needs, desires, purpose, vision, mission, and values of the organization before starting to craft a successful OD effort.

Going in with a standardized or cookie-cutter approach may allow you to make some progress, but the end result will be far off the mark from one that is totally customized for this particular application.

Start by talking with people in the organization. For sure, you want to interview the top leaders and managers to get their ideas. You also want to interview several people at different levels in the organization, because the view at lower levels may be significantly different from that at the top.

Obtain any extant data that is available, such as employee quality of work-life surveys, grievance data, turnover stats by area, blockage surveys, and other data. These data are usually collected by the Human Resources Staff.

Collect Additional Data

You need more specific data before starting to design an OD program. There are many commercially available surveys you can use for this purpose. I prefer some instruments that I have developed over the years that allow me to assess what topics have the greatest need in this particular group.

The one I use most often is what I call the “Analysis of Leadership Training Needs.” This instrument is a broad look at what specific training modules would be most helpful for this particular population. A total of 56 different skill areas are on the survey, and each individual gives all of the skills a score of 0-3. Zero means there is no need for training on that skill. Three means there is an urgent need for training on that skill.

I have a suite of ten different surveys that I use depending on the data generated in the interviews. For example, if there is an issue with ethics in this organization, I have an instrument that will measure what types of skills need work.
If the group might be considering a merger or acquisition, I have an instrument that measures readiness for that. These assessments can be accessed on my home page www.leadergrow.com under “Services.”

Design Phase

Once the data phase is complete, it is time to start the design phase. You will need to select not only the topics to cover, but also the OD methods to use. In general OD activities fall into four categories. (There are others, but they are usually combinations of these four.)

1. Action Search
2. Appreciative Inquiry
3. Future Search
4. Whole System Intervention

Although the objective of each of these methods is the same, the viewpoint and methodology for each is different. I will give my personal views of the strengths and problems with each method from my experience. All of these can work. The trick is to match the leadership style and organization culture so that the one selected has the best chance of success in a particular case.

Action Search

Most organizations contemplating an OD initiative, do so because they are not satisfied with how things are going. If the current trajectory of business is meeting or exceeding goals, there is little impetus for change. The Action Search approach takes on a somewhat negative spin from the outset. The idea is to determine what is wrong and fix it quickly.

Appreciative Inquiry

This approach is the mirror image of the “action research” technique. The process starts by asking what is working well. Groups focus on what is going right rather than what is going wrong. The idea is to find ways of doing more of the right things, thus providing less reinforcement for doing the wrong things.

Future Search

In this process, the focus is on the vision rather than the current state. The idea is to get groups engaged in defining a compelling view of the future. When compared to the present, this allows clarification of the gaps between current practices and organizational goals. Outstanding vision is the most powerful force for all individuals and organizations.

Whole System Intervention

This is a kind of zero-based approach to OD. In this case, the activities of the organization are viewed through a “systems” approach. The emphasis is on getting a critical mass within the organization to redefine the business. Processes become the focal point for redesign efforts. This approach is less threatening than the action research technique because of focuses on the “what” and “how” rather than the “who.”

It is always best to work with a skilled facilitator whenever doing any form of Organization Development. Groups that try to navigate these choppy waters without the help of an experienced sea captain often end up in a bigger mess than when they started.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.


Building Higher Trust 8 Trust and Focus

February 3, 2021

It is quite easy to determine the level of trust within a group simply by observing what the people in the group focus on most of the time.

High Trust Groups

I have observed that very high trust groups spend the majority of their time and energy on what they are trying to accomplish. Maybe it is because high trust groups have an exciting vision they are pursuing.

Let’s say the group is coming out with a new product. If you listen to the conversations members of the group are having, they are going to be centered on the new product. That is what they are trying to accomplish.

If they are trying to accomplish better customer service, then that dynamic will dominate the conversations.

Whatever the vision is will be the main topic of discussion, and people will do very little griping because they have good feelings about the other people in their group. Those good feelings and affection tend to raise the level of trust even higher.

Low Trust Groups

By contrast, people who work in low trust groups seem to focus their energy on each other. They are myopic and talk about the problems they are having getting along.

You might hear one person complain that another person spends too much time on the phone or is frequently late to Zoom meetings. You may hear people that are stationed in different countries complain that the time zone differences make life very difficult for their families.

The focus becomes “how can I protect my own interests from these other people who have their own agendas.” The conversations become mostly negative and often are hurtful.

That dynamic tends to perpetuate the lower trust atmosphere, so it becomes a vicious cycle of negativity.

Conclusion

Listen to the conversations that are happening in your organization and see whether they demonstrate low or high trust. It will be an accurate indication of the current level of trust inside your organization.

Bonus Video

Here is a brief video on Trust and Focus.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 1000 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations



Leadership Barometer 79 Generates Passion

January 31, 2021

There are hundreds of assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. You can spend a lot of time and money taking surveys to tell you the quality of your leadership.

There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. These are not good for diagnosing problems or specifying corrective action, but they can tell you where you stand quickly. Here is one of my favorite measures.

Generates Passion

Great leaders are not only passionate people, but they have an uncanny way of igniting the entire population with that passion. This is a real gift.

Note that in the current times of many people working remotely, it is far more difficult to generate new passion. It requires extra effort to communicate more and more often. Enthusiasm and passion are easier to spread when you can be with people in person or one on one.

I believe most leadership skills can be learned, but the ability to spread one’s passion to others is different. Passion has to be genuine. Passion comes from within, and the key is to let it out and show it. Speakers, classes, and books can inspire passion, but you have to find your own authentic way to communicate it.

Most people do have the seed of passion in their DNA. They just need to hone their communication skills so they are optimized and available.

So, how does a leader develop this skill? One way is through a great mentor or a role model. If you do not have any charismatic leaders in your organization that can teach you this skill, I recommend you go online and look up some of the great people from history or present who are particularly good at spreading passion.

I think of people like Zig Zigler, Earl Nightingale, Warren Bennis, Napoleon Hill, Lou Holtz, or Vince Lombardi. There are literally hundreds of great role models, and they all have content on the internet or in programs that can be purchased or just viewed at no cost on YouTube.

You can find enough material to keep you learning about spreading passion for years. I know because I have most of the programs or DVDs with their content and listen to them often. I have memorized the key points and seek to apply them in my life.

For more contemporary content, you might tap into the daily blog of Seth Goden, or the weekly articles by Gary Burnison of Korn Ferry. Look around and find a few favorite authors who tend to inspire you and subscribe to their periodic publications on the internet.

Passion is closely aligned with the sense of ownership and buy-in. If you can get people to recognize the quality of their life is really more in their own hands than they realize, you are on the right track.

Teach people to reject being victims and take control of their situation. Once that is accomplished, it is easy to generate passion, because passion is all about an intense desire to achieve something. It will improve the quality of one’s life.

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations.


Talent Development 24 Business Partnerships

January 28, 2021

Section 3.2 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Consulting and Business Partnering. Section B reads, “Skill in establishing and managing organizational and/or business partnerships and relationships.”

In this article I will outline the process I use to establish, maintain, and enrich business partnerships. The bottom line is a pretty simple equation that starts with a lot of networking.

Networking

You are not going to build a strong team of business partners if you aren’t out there meeting new people all the time. The best advice I received when I retired from the corporate world was to keep active in lots of organizations to keep my network strong.

At one point I was simultaneously involved in 17 different volunteer organizations and associations. I have scaled that back a bit, but still am active in over a dozen groups. The networking leads to friendships that can, and often do, grow into strong partnerships.

Mutual Benefit

You must maintain an attitude of mutual benefit. Both partners must be gaining by the relationship or it will atrophy over time. Choose your partners carefully so there is always a synergistic relationship.

Not Competitive

Avoid becoming partners with a person who is doing the exact same thing as you in the same markets. You can be friendly with these people, but they do not make good partners because they will pursue the same organizations or clients that you do.

It is better to find an individual who has skill expertise that feeds into what you do rather than competes directly with you.

Contribute Freely

Give of yourself to enhance the relationship. Support the other person in every way you can and be generous with your time and your resources. It is a good idea to nominate the other person for awards or find ways to praise the person on social networks.

Establish a Great Working Relationship

If people genuinely like you, they will be excellent partners. Invest in the relationship and work to keep it from going dormant. This is especially true in times when people need to be working remotely. It is easy to lose touch with mutual friends when you do not see each other as often or you only see each other on Zoom.

I find that personal Zooms with another person are a wonderful way to keep the partnership fresh and vibrant. Keep a list of your personal partners and be sure to contact each one often enough to keep the momentum going.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.






Building Higher Trust 7 Trust and Solving Problems

January 25, 2021

All teams need to solve problems from time to time. How easily these problems are solved and the quality of solutions has a lot to do with the level of trust on the team. In this article I will describe why the level of trust has such a major impact on solving problems.

The speed to get to a solution

High trust groups are able to focus on the specific problem at hand. They define what the real issue is with precision and do it quickly. Once the nature of the problem is crystal clear to everyone, then a solution is just around the corner.

By contrast, low trust groups are working around interpersonal issues between team members, so it is difficult for them to even agree on the nature of the problem. The group can become splintered and end up arguing for hours on what the issue really is.

As the acrimony becomes more apparent, the group can actually move further away from the original problem and end up with two problems to resolve. All of this dither uses up a lot of time, and tempers become even more frayed.

The Quality of solutions

The quality of the solution is also highly impacted by the level of trust within the group. With a high trust group, people are not afraid to voice their ideas knowing they will not be ridiculed if they propose a rather creative solution.

In low trust groups, members are holding back for a number of reasons. They may be fearful that their ideas will not be considered seriously. They may keep quiet thinking that the power person should come up with potential solutions. They may have been shot down in the past. There may be a personal gripe with one or more other members of the group.

A low trust group will have a much more difficult time finding excellent solutions to problems than a high trust group.

Bonus Video

Here is a brief video on Trust and Solving Problems.



Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 1000 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations