Speed of Trust

Speed of Trust, FranklinCovey

According to Stephen M. R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust and co-author with Greg Link of Smart Trust, ‘trust is the new currency of our global economy.  It is the foundational driver for an organization’s sustained success. A loss of trust will not only damage internal and external relationships, it will also dramatically affect the speed at which you can move and the cost of everything. On the other hand, the dividends of high trust are tangible and real and they translate into economic advantage’.

Stephen also states that ‘most significantly, trust is a learnable competency, a tangible asset you can get good at creating. This is true for both leaders and organizations. If a company can deliberately create trust as a competency, it will have a stronger competitive edge, grow its market share, and gain and maintain the loyalty of employees, customers, partners and constituents’.

This concept can also be applied to an educational organisation, however it will take commitment, understanding, patience and courage.

Several years ago, Doug Whittaker, the administrator of Charlotte County Public Schools in Florida, USA, shared the following experience.

Our school district had made a commitment to change how we did business with our unions, but before we could actually get into the bargaining for the coming year, hurricane Charley hit. We knew that we were facing a major catastrophe. Eight of our twenty-one facilities were unusable. We had children out of school, teachers out of work, and people whose homes were destroyed.

Our superintendent, Dr. Dave Gaylor, called a meeting. In addition to the district administrator, he invited others, including the two union presidents, which was a bold step. He announced that our top priority was to make sure that everybody got paid as soon as possible, even though they wouldn’t be working. He also made a commitment that regardless of what happened, we were not going to reduce the workforce. Following the meeting, Dr. Gaylor went on the television and radio channels that were working and announced that we would be paying our employees on Tuesday. Teams of union and administrative representatives went out together and made sure those pay checks got delivered.

As damage assessments came in, we realized that we were probably going to have a permanent loss of six of our schools and that two would be repairable. We waived parts of the union contract, set up a memorandum of understanding to address the critical changes that had to be made, and set up a plan to go on double sessions immediately. Within two weeks of the hurricane, children were back in school, and teachers and administrators were back at work. Within three months, we were able to bring in relocatable buildings, rebuild temporary campuses, and back off the double sessions.

As a result of all these things, the school district built incredible trust with our employees. We also built trust with the community as people came to see the school system as a focal point of recovery. And when it came time for financial negotiations with the union, our finance officer put the figures up on the screen and said, “Here’s what we have available, and here’s how that might look over a three-year implementation.” From that point, the negotiation, which would normally have taken months, took only two hours. There was no caucusing. There were no threats. There was no question that the data on the screen was correct. The discussion was simply around minor adjustments to make it work.

I think we had all anticipated that building trust with our employees and the unions was going to be a very slow process over a long period of time. But when the hurricane hit, the pretence was gone. It was no longer “I’m an administrator and you’re a teacher,” it was “I’m Joe, who owns the house that just got destroyed” and “You’re Sam, who owns the house where the roof caved in.” We all came together. We said, “We do have a mutual interest here. This is our employment. This is our contribution to our community. We have 147 kids to think about. We have parents to think about. We’ve got to put the old stuff aside.” And it was amazing; both sides really did.

Dwight Hansen, Region Practice Leader for FranklinCovey Speed of Trust Practice based in Utah, USA, stated that "High trust behaviour is a key driver of outcomes... and is the most overlooked, and least understood leverage that leaders can access today” He suggests that performance can be dramatically increased “by focusing on behaviours needed to drive results – and do away with the undermining effects of counterfeit behaviours.  Counterfeit behaviours are low-trust, habitual default behaviours that undermine trust and collaboration”.

Address behaviour as a strategic lever, and you will shift the culture of the team or organization and create the performance multiplier that comes with high trust.  Inculcating high trust behaviours into the culture enables and accelerates results."

Bastow will be partnering with FranklinCovey to deliver Leading at the Speed of Trust – a two day program aimed at helping participants understand the important elements of developing trusting relationships and how to effectively inspire it in the workplace. This course will be delivered on the 31st of October 2013. Details on this course will be available on the Bastow website: www.bastow.vic.edu.au next month.

For further information about The Speed of Trust, please visit http://www.myspeedoftrust.com/