Business management: Between blind trust and total mistrust
The value of things lies in the right balance between two extremes that are usually more similar than we think: trust and distrust. This fact becomes very important in regard to the first term, trust, as it is a basic quality in human relations. Taking into account this complicated tandem, where does the entrepreneur stand?
- Distrustful business leaders
Those that management theories nurture as selfish beings who only seek their own personal gain. Normally, employers who have been educated in this tradition end up thinking that workers have the opposite interests to their own (to work as little as possible), when they want them to do just the opposite (to work as much as possible, maximize productivity with the minimum cost). And what does the worker think? For the employer to get all the credit, I do enough. And he deserves it, for having bad thoughts about me. And I won’t go on, we all know how the story goes.
At this point, the employer becomes obsessed with controlling the selfish worker, and having tried all possible control systems, he ends up seeing that there is none that guarantees this control. Conclusion: the intelligent employer will end up seeing that the theory of absolute control based on distrust is irrational. And quite useless too. Because it is not based on what people are like. People need to trust and be trusted. And trust is based on what the other person is like: on their professional competence, their desire to do things well (integrity) and their ability to act for interests that are not exclusively their own (despite losing in the short term). Thus, to always start from a position of mistrust shows a complete lack of judgement. We are taking for granted a theory that is neither valid nor practical, and that is unfair to the worker and the employer. The other person is not always as I see him/her, and I have to learn to see him/her as he/she is.
- Confident employers
Now we go to the other extreme, confident employers. Those who want “a better place”. They suffer from the syndrome of blind trust, which they justify in a shallow way, to make themselves feel good. Telling employees what we don’t like is difficult and the superficial good feeling vanishes mercilessly. But even if it is hard to say what you don’t like, it is the way to make the relationship real. This is how trust, so necessary to make things work, becomes real. And only genuine trust generates positive consequences. I can’t trust a manifestly incompetent person, and I have to tell them so. So he can improve while allowing those who do well to be treated according to how well they do well. There is nothing more unbearable than a boss who treats everyone the same, whether they are trying to do well or not. Dealing with such a manager is a torture I do not wish on anyone.
- Treat each other differently
Therefore, to follow a theory that does not work is to have no judgement. It clashes with the reality that in relationships between people, trust is necessary. We need others (their experience, integrity and good intentions towards us). However, to blindly trust everyone is to have no judgement in assessing the relationship: it creates unfairness and makes no one better. People should treat each other differently, depending on what they do and how they do it. The extremes touch each other because they generate very similar consequences and are based on our resignation as managers to learn to have judgement: to get wet (with the option of being wrong and having to rectify) and not to get carried away by our short-term reactions (whether it is the good vibe of “everyone is good” or the bad vibe of “everyone is lazy”). We have to train our judgement to avoid extremes.