First a short story.
This weekend I was out and about when I was hit with the inspiration to make Chili Verde. I had all the ingredients at home, except for tomatillos. This would mean a trip to my favorite market, but it was really out of the way so I decided to stop by another popular store in the area. What a mistake.
No, No, No
All I saw upon entering the store, were a series of signs that said no this, no that. Wow, not quite the warm welcome I would like. I was still internalizing this when I entered into the produce section – talk about a warehouse vibe. Mountains of produce in HUGE boxes on the floor. YUCK. Well, I wasn’t going to be here long – all I needed were a few tomatillos. So, I walk past the questionable boxes of apples, past the strawberries with obvious mold, then I spotted them. 2 big boxes of tomatillos that were waaaay past sell date. I was DONE, but first, I wanted to alert the gaggle of produce people standing right next to me about what I saw. I did, they shrugged, and I left.
What does this have to do with trust?
Everything. My trust was shaken when I entered the door and spotted no less than three signs (two of which were stenciled on the door) about what I couldn’t do in the store. It was further eroded when I saw the condition of the produce; it was shattered with the attitude of the produce team. As people do nowadays, I made mention of my experience on Facebook. One of the responses took me by surprise. Here is the original post. Talk about a blast from the past, the bowling managers “camp” Jennifer is referring to, took place at least 9/10 years ago. In essence, this talk was centered around customer service and the importance of trust and how our actions, more than our words, project trust on the people around us.
How does this apply to our world? The training world? I’m often surprised by the amount of “no’s” we project in the learning world. We tell people not to use technology. We tell people not to ask questions (Save questions until the end…). We tell people that they can’t skip ahead in materials. We tell people not to be curious by locking the navigation in eLearning. We don’t allow for self-directed learning because…you know…what if they don’t learn what WE want them to learn? We tell people what their goals should be. Okay, that’s technically not a “no” but it’s still a command and control function. Don’t you find it interesting that as facilitators, we still set class “ground rules”. It’s like we are on the playground at recess.
We give out all these “no’s”, so then the participant begins to think…”This training had better be worth it!”, only to discover it’s loaded with old produce that no one wants to consume. The trust from participant to facilitator has just evaporated. The loyalty is gone, the enthusiasm to do well is gone, and the motivation has disappeared. As we all know, it’s far more difficult to reestablish trust that it is to have it in the first place.
Alternatively, we spoon feed information because we don’t trust people to find the information on their own. Our people then become accustomed to having the information spoon fed to them, so they stop looking. It’s a vicious cycle. We’ve built the wrong trust platform. They trust us to do the work for them. We’ve “trained” them to expect this, so now what?
We spoon feed!
Case in point, let’s talk pre-work. The dreaded pre-work assignment. We assign pre-work but then we cover the pre-work in the class. Why? Because people don’t do it. Why? Because they have learned not to trust us! Participants don’t trust that the work being assigned has anything to do with the class, if it does they know we will cover the pre-work in the class. Therefore punishing those who did complete the pre-work and rewarding those who didn’t. If that sounds backwards, it’s because it is. We’ve ruined the tenuous thread of trust with the participants who did the work in advance and created a monster with those who didn’t.
I can hear you now, “…but what if they don’t do it? Then what?” Sucks to be them. I know that sounds rude, but it’s true. Trust until you cannot. You trusted them to do the work, they didn’t, now they have to do the pre-work during a break, or at lunch or buddy with someone who did, the point of pre-work is to set the foundation of the class. If the class can move on without people completing the pre-work then don’t assign it! It breaks the trust.
We don’t know what’s best.
Just like our parent’s before us, we don’t always know what’s best. This is why trust is important. Trust in your participants to do the right thing. Let them chose the goals for the class, trust they want to learn the right things to help them do their jobs. Show participants how they can use technology to help them learn in your class. Then, trust them to use that technology appropriately. Let participants know that you trust that they will guide the class in the right direction. Let them chose the path.
They are trusting that we will use their time wisely. Trusting that we will consider their background. Trusting that we will bring information to them that is time sensitive and appropriate. They don’t want rotting tomatillos. They are trusting that we will treat them like the adults they are.
I would argue that sometimes we place more trust in kids than we do adults. We trust kids to do the right things, until they don’t. When they don’t, we put them in a position to earn our trust back. Why don’t we treat participants, co-workers, and other adults with the same respect?
Trust is about respect for others, and ultimately, giving up control. Are you ready? Let’s begin a discussion about trust in the workplace. What do you do to promote trust?