“Never take other people for granted. There is a point of no return in all relationships.”
I think about taking things for granted sometimes when driving over a rickety bridge or walking down a street crowded with cars. I trust that the engineers who built and inspected the bridge did their job well. I trust that the cars speeding along the street see me walking and aren’t going to sneeze and veer into me at the exact moment of passing.
Is there a fine line between trust and taking something for granted?
That’s an interesting question to ponder about relationships, particularly those involving leaders and employees. As leaders, trust is probably the single most critical element of our relationship with our team members. Without trust, we meander through an atmosphere of skepticism, confusion and low productivity.
Work Toward Mutual Trust
Trust has to go both ways. Employees must trust that their leader has their best interest in mind, has the knowledge and vision to lead, and has the confidence to navigate the obstacles that will arise. Leaders must trust that their employees are engaged, committed and performing well.
Interesting mutual necessity, isn’t it. Is there a point where we cross the line, and begin taking the other for granted?
As leaders, do we take for granted that employees…
- Know how important they are to the team?
- Know how to do their jobs?
- Understand how their job fits into the larger organization’s work?
- Are committed to doing good work?
As employees, do we take for granted that leaders…
- Know the work we are doing?
- Are comfortable providing effective feedback?
- Care (or don’t care) about us?
Performance is about Dialogue
Performance and productivity in any organization improves through only one path…having candid and regular dialogue about the work. If leaders and employees can assume positive intent, have open conversations and ask and answer good questions, and learn to build trust, the rest is easy.
Taking anything for granted in today’s hectic and complicated world doesn’t make sense. Taking people for granted demeans the relationship.
If you have ever felt as if you were taken for granted, you understand Sowell’s comment that there is a point of no return. We generally are willing to give people the benefit of the doubt for a while. There comes a time, however, that feeling of being taken for granted begins to overpower and the individual shuts down.
Think about this in the context of your good performers – those you need and want to retain. Do they know the value they bring to you and to the team? Do they get rewarded by taking on work that others can’t or won’t do? Do they resent the time you spend with low performers? Do they have the resources they need? Are they treated like individuals?
A Wise Investment
All of these questions are good ones to ask ourselves, as leaders. Taking 10 minutes out of a week to think about the team, reflect on their work, look for changes in behavior and consider whether or not they are engaged by the work and committed to the team can be a wise investment of your time. Giving each team member a little part of your day or week to reflect on their needs can go a long way toward building trust, and not taking them for granted.
What do you think? Is it worth a small chunk of time each week to make sure that you’re really seeing your team members?