ALU

trust

How Competition Affects Trust In The Workplace

Competition is widely believed to have a corrosive impact on trust, but what happens when that competition comes from a rival firm? Does the external "threat" bind us together? That was the conclusion reached by a recent study from the University of British Columbia, Princeton University and Aix-Marseille University.

The researchers collected data from the manufacturing sector in both the United States and Germany, and it emerged that the more intense the competition within the sector, the more likely it was for pro-social behaviors, such as cooperation and knowledge sharing, within each company.

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How to Build Trust to Enable Agility

One of the most common questions I am asked in my Professional Scrum Master (PSM) courses and in coaching engagements is:

"How do we build trust?"

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Scrum Mastery: 5 Steps to Grow a Strong Team Identity

This is the second in a series of posts exploring Scrum Mastery. In our first post, we introduced the 4 dimensions of Scrum Mastery. Scrum requires self-organizing, cross-functional, collaborative teams. The success of Scrum hinges on the strength of a team. In this post, we will explore the Team Identity dimension.

5 Steps to Grow a Strong Team Identity

#1 – Appreciate the Individual

Teams are made of people. And it is important to not lose sight of the wonderfully unique, complex people that make up a team, even as we strive to let go of individual ego and focus on team goals and outcomes. After all, engaged and fulfilled people are going to be more creative and productive.

First, recognize that everyone has a unique personality. Personality is the building blocks of who you are, and it is driven by your preferences. This includes communication styles, learning styles, being a lark or night owl, conflict responses, introversion or extroversion, and many more contextual and specific traits. While it is impossible to satisfy all individual preferences on a team, it is important to understand and appreciate the individual preferences, so the group can negotiate and optimize for a given situation. And also appreciate when people are stepping outside their comfort zone for the benefit of the whole.

Second, respect that people are motivated intrinsically. You don’t need to motivate people. Instead, you need to create an environment that encourages intrinsic motivation. People want to choose how they do their work. They want the ability to grow their capabilities and become great at something. And they want to do work that has greater meaning and impact.

A key skill for all individuals to appreciate themselves and each other is emotional intelligence. This involves both understanding and managing your own emotions and being able to recognize and influence the emotions of others. People are a complex mix of thoughts and emotions influenced by the stories we tell ourselves and our perception of reality. These are all jumbled together and constantly changing. Emotional intelligence helps you make sense of all this, so that you can choose how to respond to situations based on the outcomes you seek.

Now that we know how individuals find intrinsic motivation, are impacted by their personality preferences, and how they leverage emotional intelligence in their interactions with others, let’s connect this to the team.

#2 – Establish Team Purpose, Team Values, and Team Vision

  • Why do we exist? (Purpose)
  • What is important to us? (Values)
  • What do we want? (Vision)

These three questions guide a team on its journey towards becoming a high-performing, collaborative team. This is how you leverage the understanding and appreciation of the individuals to unify around a common purpose, establish shared values that guide you, and create a clear vision for the future state you want to create.

This type of clarity enables effective self-organization and taps into intrinsic motivation.

Establishing team identity is not a one-time team building activity. These are three questions you will continue to clarify and refine. You will use these questions as a team to assess how things are going, decide on next steps, and check that you are still on the path to where you want to go as a team. Over time, individuals on the team will begin to embody these questions and use them intuitively.

#3 – Build a Foundation of Trust

Everything hinges on a foundation of trust. Trust is a willingness to be vulnerable with each other. Some trust is required to show up as your authentic self and let people learn who you are and what motivates you (see #1). Some trust is required to have meaningful conversations about values, purpose, and vision. And trust grows over time as individuals continue to be vulnerable with each other in deeper ways and as individuals take great care of the vulnerability of their team members.

I consider trust to be the root of team identity. As the roots grow, the team identity becomes stronger. The team is more resilient and can survive and recover quicker from storms. But it takes time and continued nourishment for the roots to grow.

When there is trust within a team, it is then possible to engage in productive conflict. People are willing to challenge each other. People are willing to challenge assumptions and share their wild and crazy (and possibly brilliant) ideas. They are willing to take smart risks.

#4 – Navigate the Conflict Spectrum

Conflict driven from a desire to “win” or be “right” is NOT productive. Not speaking up because you don’t want to upset others or be perceived in a certain way is also NOT productive.

Productive conflict happens when people are willing to share ideas and perspectives and also challenge each other’s ideas and perspectives, all in the interest of reaching the best possible outcome. This enables creativity and innovation.

Productive conflict means challenging the status quo, your assumptions, and your limiting beliefs.

Here are a few basics for productive conflict:

  • You listen to others. Like, really listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t start formulating your counterpoints in your head while they are talking. Outcome -> Others feel heard.
  • You respect other perspectives, beliefs, and ideas. Because you respect them, you can challenge them…in the spirit of finding the best solution for the given situation. Outcome -> Others feel heard and invited to consider alternatives.
  • You can disagree and commit. Because you feel heard and respected, because you listened and kept an open mind to alternatives. Outcome -> You can support the direction of the team.

When there is productive conflict within a team, it is then possible to have commitment to team decisions.

#5 – Create Commitment and Accountability to the Team

Commitment shows up in several ways within a team, from the big picture to the smaller decisions that get made daily. Ultimately, this is about alignment between how you are engaging everyday and your team purpose, team values, and team vision (see #2).

One way to support commitment is by facilitating consensus. By consensus, I mean that people can disagree and commit (see #3). Ensure key decisions are made clear at the end of team discussions and that everyone is willing to support them.

Team members must also be willing to hold each other accountable for those team commitments. It can take courage to enter into conflict (see #4), but if you’ve laid the groundwork, there will be enough trust and respect and appreciation of the individuals to make conflict productive. When team members are willing to hold each other accountable, they enable higher standards because everyone is striving for the best possible outcomes. This could show up as higher quality, better solutions, greater learning, and more innovation. And ultimately, this enables the team to stay focused on their shared goals and team results.

Summary

Growing a strong team identity is an ongoing process. You will likely need to put more energy and time into team identity early in a team’s life, as well as when they confront significant change and challenges. The 5 steps above build on each other, yet they can all be experienced in the same moments.

You can often assess how strong a team is and which of these steps needs focus by how successfully a team fails. Do they learn and grow from it? Do team members enter into productive conflict, holding each other accountable while owning their individual missteps?

Servant-leaders are comfortable with failure, knowing it is a necessary part of innovation, learning, and growth.

Where is your team struggling with their identity? What steps do you want to put more energy into for supporting growth?Original Link

Scrum Mastery: 5 Steps to Grow a Strong Team Identity

This is the second in a series of posts exploring Scrum Mastery. In our first post, we introduced the 4 dimensions of Scrum Mastery. Scrum requires self-organizing, cross-functional, collaborative teams. The success of Scrum hinges on the strength of a team. In this post, we will explore the Team Identity dimension.

5 Steps to Grow a Strong Team Identity

#1 – Appreciate the Individual

Teams are made of people. And it is important to not lose sight of the wonderfully unique, complex people that make up a team, even as we strive to let go of individual ego and focus on team goals and outcomes. After all, engaged and fulfilled people are going to be more creative and productive.

First, recognize that everyone has a unique personality. Personality is the building blocks of who you are, and it is driven by your preferences. This includes communication styles, learning styles, being a lark or night owl, conflict responses, introversion or extroversion, and many more contextual and specific traits. While it is impossible to satisfy all individual preferences on a team, it is important to understand and appreciate the individual preferences, so the group can negotiate and optimize for a given situation. And also appreciate when people are stepping outside their comfort zone for the benefit of the whole.

Second, respect that people are motivated intrinsically. You don’t need to motivate people. Instead, you need to create an environment that encourages intrinsic motivation. People want to choose how they do their work. They want the ability to grow their capabilities and become great at something. And they want to do work that has greater meaning and impact.

A key skill for all individuals to appreciate themselves and each other is emotional intelligence. This involves both understanding and managing your own emotions and being able to recognize and influence the emotions of others. People are a complex mix of thoughts and emotions influenced by the stories we tell ourselves and our perception of reality. These are all jumbled together and constantly changing. Emotional intelligence helps you make sense of all this, so that you can choose how to respond to situations based on the outcomes you seek.

Now that we know how individuals find intrinsic motivation, are impacted by their personality preferences, and how they leverage emotional intelligence in their interactions with others, let’s connect this to the team.

#2 – Establish Team Purpose, Team Values, and Team Vision

  • Why do we exist? (Purpose)
  • What is important to us? (Values)
  • What do we want? (Vision)

These three questions guide a team on its journey towards becoming a high-performing, collaborative team. This is how you leverage the understanding and appreciation of the individuals to unify around a common purpose, establish shared values that guide you, and create a clear vision for the future state you want to create.

This type of clarity enables effective self-organization and taps into intrinsic motivation.

Establishing team identity is not a one-time team building activity. These are three questions you will continue to clarify and refine. You will use these questions as a team to assess how things are going, decide on next steps, and check that you are still on the path to where you want to go as a team. Over time, individuals on the team will begin to embody these questions and use them intuitively.

#3 – Build a Foundation of Trust

Everything hinges on a foundation of trust. Trust is a willingness to be vulnerable with each other. Some trust is required to show up as your authentic self and let people learn who you are and what motivates you (see #1). Some trust is required to have meaningful conversations about values, purpose, and vision. And trust grows over time as individuals continue to be vulnerable with each other in deeper ways and as individuals take great care of the vulnerability of their team members.

I consider trust to be the root of team identity. As the roots grow, the team identity becomes stronger. The team is more resilient and can survive and recover quicker from storms. But it takes time and continued nourishment for the roots to grow.

When there is trust within a team, it is then possible to engage in productive conflict. People are willing to challenge each other. People are willing to challenge assumptions and share their wild and crazy (and possibly brilliant) ideas. They are willing to take smart risks.

#4 – Navigate the Conflict Spectrum

Conflict driven from a desire to “win” or be “right” is NOT productive. Not speaking up because you don’t want to upset others or be perceived in a certain way is also NOT productive.

Productive conflict happens when people are willing to share ideas and perspectives and also challenge each other’s ideas and perspectives, all in the interest of reaching the best possible outcome. This enables creativity and innovation.

Productive conflict means challenging the status quo, your assumptions, and your limiting beliefs.

Here are a few basics for productive conflict:

  • You listen to others. Like, really listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t start formulating your counterpoints in your head while they are talking. Outcome -> Others feel heard.
  • You respect other perspectives, beliefs, and ideas. Because you respect them, you can challenge them…in the spirit of finding the best solution for the given situation. Outcome -> Others feel heard and invited to consider alternatives.
  • You can disagree and commit. Because you feel heard and respected, because you listened and kept an open mind to alternatives. Outcome -> You can support the direction of the team.

When there is productive conflict within a team, it is then possible to have commitment to team decisions.

#5 – Create Commitment and Accountability to the Team

Commitment shows up in several ways within a team, from the big picture to the smaller decisions that get made daily. Ultimately, this is about alignment between how you are engaging everyday and your team purpose, team values, and team vision (see #2).

One way to support commitment is by facilitating consensus. By consensus, I mean that people can disagree and commit (see #3). Ensure key decisions are made clear at the end of team discussions and that everyone is willing to support them.

Team members must also be willing to hold each other accountable for those team commitments. It can take courage to enter into conflict (see #4), but if you’ve laid the groundwork, there will be enough trust and respect and appreciation of the individuals to make conflict productive. When team members are willing to hold each other accountable, they enable higher standards because everyone is striving for the best possible outcomes. This could show up as higher quality, better solutions, greater learning, and more innovation. And ultimately, this enables the team to stay focused on their shared goals and team results.

Summary

Growing a strong team identity is an ongoing process. You will likely need to put more energy and time into team identity early in a team’s life, as well as when they confront significant change and challenges. The 5 steps above build on each other, yet they can all be experienced in the same moments.

You can often assess how strong a team is and which of these steps needs focus by how successfully a team fails. Do they learn and grow from it? Do team members enter into productive conflict, holding each other accountable while owning their individual missteps?

Servant-leaders are comfortable with failure, knowing it is a necessary part of innovation, learning, and growth.

Where is your team struggling with their identity? What steps do you want to put more energy into for supporting growth?Original Link

How Standardization and Agile Frameworks Can Harm Your Organizational Agility

Most large organizations are determined to become Agile and turn the ship around in order to adapt to changes faster, focus on employee satisfaction and increase customer satisfaction. Prominent scaling frameworks such as LeSS, SAFe, Nexus, and Scrum@Scale are often used by organizations to become an Agile organization. After the awareness of getting Agile, the next step in the process is usually finding a way to turn the company structure around. Agile consultants are contracted and the possible frameworks are examined. Next, a very arbitrary decision is made to use one of the scaling frameworks to be the standard implementation framework throughout the organization. Although there are many benefits in using these frameworks in supporting organizational agility, it is more often not a one-size-fits-all solution for the organization. In this article, I will highlight the risk of this one-size-fits-all approach and address the role of leadership in adopting these frameworks.

Before I get into details, I first highlight two important Agile values which set the basis for the risk of using the above-mentioned scaling frameworks and the one-size-fits-all approach. The first value is “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.” The key to remember in this value is trust. Management does not have to tell the motivated individuals how they should get the job done. Management should have the trust that individuals are all motivated and capable of finding good solutions and carrying them out. Teams and individuals that find solutions and accomplish matters are also known as them being responsible for the “how.”

It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” —Steve Jobs

The second value is “The best architectures, requirements, and designs merge from self-organizing teams.” Teams that are self-organizing will find ways to solve issues on the organizational level as well. It is more effective to have various solutions such as architecture, requirements, and designs emerge from teams than having these separate across various departments. Further, it is worth noting that this Agile value is rather broader than architecture, requirements, and design. This value also means that standards should not be forced upon teams as they are self-organizing. It is far more effective to involve the teams in the decision making so they can help and provide solutions to reach organizational goals. Setting Organizational goals is also referred to as the “what.” Again, “how” the teams want to achieve the goals is up to them; they are self-organizing.

Although these two values are valuable to strive to, it is fair to mention that self-organizing teams are still too far to reach in most organizations. Especially if the criteria is that each self-organizing team should have the freedom to organize their work as they fit best to reach the goals. Because most teams are not yet self-organizing, it takes time to really change the organization. To gain time, standard processes and Agile frameworks are implemented throughout the organization. Even though the teams are not yet self-organizing, conforming to organizational processes is in this case not supportive of team’s freedom to organize the work themselves. To put it more radically, this means that beliefs that an organization will achieve efficiency by having standard processes and one way of working in the organization is in fact counterproductive. Unfortunately, changing this belief is very difficult. Especially, in times where results are not readily feasible, the need for command and control, common processes and common way of working grow more and more within large organizations. This usually means that transformations involve many departments. Consequently, the more departments involved, the bigger the implementations and the more complex these Agile transformations get. Therefore, try not to scale up, rather try to scale down to remove organizational complexity.

Try not to scale up, rather try to scale down to remove organizational complexity.

Scaling down will help you know more about the employees and the department cultures. Each department has its own set of values and culture, each department works with different people and a different kind of customers whom they service. Therefore, a process which works for one department may not automatically work for all other departments. As such, rather than having a universal process for all departments within the organization, allow tailored processes for each department(s) as required.

Storytelling time (fictive case):

The households in the city center of Rotterdam decided to take on a new initiative. They created a plan and received a budget from city hall to fund this initiative. The households agreed to sell 75% of their total number of cars and instead use public transport and share the remaining cars with their neighbors. The results after one year are amazing. The city center has reduced the carbon footprint by 70%, people saved up to 25% of expenses and as a result, the household happiness index has risen from 5.2 to an 8.6. Given this great success, the mayor now plans to extend the initiative to the entire city of Rotterdam. So, every resident receives a letter from city hall stating that they need to sell 75% of the cars in their block. To make it easier, blocks were already formed so that every household knows exactly how many households there are in the block, how many cars are available, and so that the residents know whom they need to collaborate with to reach the city goals. Each block has 6 months to start this initiative.

Do you think the mayor’s approach is a good approach? Would this work for all the neighborhoods in Rotterdam? Will they all get the same results and be as happy as the people in the city center? I can imagine you are leaning more towards a no. This is mostly because the Mayor is not only telling the “what,” but also filling in the “how.” And still, this is exactly what leadership teams in most organizations do during the Agile transformations. Companies try to implement processes and require standardized ways of working for all the departments. This is done in the belief that standardization will help them reach organizational goals faster. Chances are that all new departments will definitely not achieve the same results as it has for the initial departments.

I can imagine you thinking, “Ziryan, this is not the case in our organization at all. The city hall has demanded the other residents to copy the city center’s approach step by step. In our transformation, however, we, as managers, only tell the ‘what’ and it is up to the departments to fill in the ‘how’. Isn’t Agile about setting goals and boundaries and letting the teams decide how they are going to achieve this?

Evaluating your own transformation, is your leadership teams really telling you the organizational goals or are they actually pushing a solution which has to be implemented?

Well, in a sense that is true. A leadership team should be about the “what.” While providing goals, the teams are responsible to decide “how” to reach these goals. However, I tend to argue if this is indeed the case in most transformations. For example, the city hall also believes that they are telling the “what” and it is up to the blocks to self-organize “how” to achieve them. But is the “what” in this case really a “what?” Is it a goal which can be achieved or is the solution already provided? Evaluating your own transformation, is your leadership teams really telling you the organizational goals or are they actually pushing a solution which has to be implemented?

Clearly, there is some confusion as to the “what” and “how” in Agile transformations. Many companies embrace Agile and implement one of the Agile Scaling frameworks throughout the entire organization. By doing so, perfect standardized processes and procedures are created that are then applied to all or many different departments within such organization. The Rotterdam city center initiative demonstrates why standardization should have no place in Agile transformations. This is because standardization does not satisfy the separation of “what” and “how” and does not support creating self-organizing teams. Therefore, such standard scaling frameworks are doomed to fail as this is a clear misapplication to become an Agile organization.

The solution to this mind shift, however, is not easy. Not all organizations can spare the time for self-organization and allow every department to figure out their own Agile journey (at least, that is a common belief). But, if you as a leader can find some time for this, here is my advice on how to go about this. In the spirit of self-organizing, you should have departments with their own purpose in which they can deliver value to the customers independently. The more dependencies between departments in delivering customer value, the more complex the collaboration will be. In this, leadership teams should not try to solve this by implementing frameworks for the synergy of processes. Preferably, they are focusing on creating a learning organization. There are a few ways to create a learning organization I want to mention:

  • Enable a platform (or a community) in which departments, teams, and individuals can share their practices and get inspired by other colleagues. Trusting that if deemed necessary, they will seek this synergy themselves;
  • Create a culture in which it is safe to experiment and fail. Where it is safe to shout out how successful the experiment was or how miserably wrong the outcome was;
  • Enforce collaboration to make sure colleagues focus on exploring successes and failures of other departments, or organizations, in order to learn from them and to create their own journey;
  • Provide goals and give insight into the context of the organization so that the individuals, the teams, and the departments can find a solution to reach the goals; and
  • Finally, leadership should focus on solving impediments which block the departments and the teams in delivering the most amazing experience for your customers.

Now, getting back to the statement earlier to not implement any scaling framework. Knowing the power of self-organization, frameworks and best practices can be very useful. But staying open to solutions which are different are more important that one framework in the organization. If the teams or departments think they can reach the goals with a different approach, they should be challenged and helped to achieve them in their own way. You would be surprised how much energy it brings to people when they figure out their own path in the Agile transformation.

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6 Meeting Hacks (and 1 Weird Tip) That Build Trust in the Room

This is it: the Big Meeting. You’ve brought a conference room’s worth of people together to make an important decision, close that huge sale, or kick off a new strategic initiative. Trouble is, most of these people barely know each other. And some of them barely know you.

You’ll need to build trust in the room fast or risk this becoming a Massive Waste of Time.

And you’ll have to do this while you’re leading the meeting. (Unless you scheduled extra time to sing Kumbaya down by the campfire. No? Didn’t think so.)

Don’t panic. You got this. Use these techniques to boost attendees’ confidence in you – and in each other.

1. Close the Lid

During the obligatory welcome and “thanks for taking the time today”, ask that everyone close their laptops and tuck their phones away. As many as 73% of people admit to doing other work during meetings, which severely limits how engaged they can be in the discussion.

Why it works: Shutting down devices lets our brains open up. We listen intently and share thoughts that are more fully-formed than if we’d been checking Facebook the entire time Marcus was talking. That, plus the common bond of suffering through an hour off the grid, builds rapport quickly.

2. Ask Questions, Even When You Have the Answer

In meetings oriented around solving a problem or making a decision, resist the temptation to offer up solutions. Instead, ask leading questions that prompt deeper discussion. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Why? What for?
  • How would we measure success?
  • Can you expand on that?
  • That’s an interesting point, but it feels counterintuitive – in what context would it apply?
  • How could we take this idea to the point where it scares us (like, in a good way)?
  • Will this scale? (Just kidding. That’s an incredibly annoying question in just about all circumstances. Forget I mentioned it.)
  • What would The Rock do?

Why it works: You’ll demonstrate humility and an interest in what others have to say. Both are instant trust-builders.

3. Manage the “Celebrity” in the Room

There’s often one person who a) has strong opinions; b) is keen to share them; and c) is highly respected by others in the room. This person can dominate or derail discussions, usually without intending to do so. Ask them to capture notes on the whiteboard (because laptops closed, please). I tried this once in a meeting where the celebrity was my boss. I got a stern look in the moment, but he thanked me afterward.

If you know this person is a strong detractor, share the purpose of the meeting with them beforehand so you can get their input. From there, figure out a way for them to make a constructive contribution. Designate them the official devil’s advocate, ask them to educate the group on a facet of the problem they’re especially knowledgeable in, or something similar.

Why it works: Either tactic will immediately put the celebrity into listening mode and create space for the rest of the group to contribute.

4. Relentlessly Focus on Outcomes

Every meeting should drive toward a tangible result. (Death to all “status updates” and “weekly syncs”!) Make sure you convey this in your invite so people understand the job to be done and what it would take to end the meeting early.

During the meeting, remind people of the objective any time the discussion strays off-course or heads down a rabbit hole. And seriously: end the meeting as soon as you’ve got the outcome you came for.

Why it works: Showing respect for people’s time will earn you their respect in return.

5. Draw out the Introverts

People who think more than they speak are often bulldozed in meetings, or mistaken for having no opinion on the matter, by those of us who tend to think out loud. Your job is to create space for them.

If possible, share relevant information and discussion points with them in advance so they can get a head start on thinking it through. Then during the meeting, look for opportunities to pull them into the conversation. Questions like “What’s stood out for you so far?” or “What else might we need to consider?” can be very effective.

Why it works: Having a chance to contribute helps us feel like we’ve been heard. People trust leaders who give everyone that chance more than leaders who grant it only to a blessed few.

6. Enforce Zero-Tolerance for “Manterrupting” and “Bropropriation”

We’ve all seen it happen. Men interrupt women far, far more than we interrupt other men. Some of us also have a bad habit of shooting down a woman’s idea, then later re-phrasing the same idea and claiming it as our own. Women of color and our non-cisgender peers are even more likely to be marginalized in these ways.

Whether done consciously or not, this has to stop.

So it’s up to all of us to mind our own manners and tactfully call out when other forget to mind theirs.

A blanket “no interrupting” policy is a good start. When someone slips up, a simple, “Hold that thought – I want to make sure Shari has a chance to finish” from you serves as a gentle reminder and ensures nobody is silenced.

Why it works: Whether you identify as male, female, or neither, you’re setting the tone. When people see you’ve got someone else’s back, they’ll trust you’ve got theirs, too.

7. Bring a Rubber Chicken

Yes, it’s seriously weird. And yes, it works.

Rubber chickens = better meetings. Who knew?!

For those brave (or crazy) enough, use a squeaky rubber chicken to help facilitate the meeting. I’ve been in meetings where the chicken is placed in the middle of the table, and when the conversation starts going in circles or off on a tangent, anyone in the room can squawk it to signal it’s time to bring things back to center.

Why it works: People feel safer when they aren’t being singled out. A rubber chicken brings some levity into the room and saves anyone from being the kill-joy taskmaster.

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Blockchain and the Reputation Game

Most new technologies take a while to establish their reputations and ensure that users can trust both the technology itself and the providers of it. Nowhere is this more evident than with blockchain technology.

Despite an increasingly impressive array of companies investing time and energy into blockchain-based solutions, the technology suffers due to the seemingly unruly nature of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Given the fragility of its reputation, it must surely pay those forging a new path in blockchain to be whiter than white.

Alas, for healthcare startup Patientory that doesn’t appear to be the case. They’re a company I covered earlier this year, and they use blockchain on our electronic medical records.

The hope is that by giving patients control over their health data, it will empower them to better manage their care.

So far, so good, but they’ve dropped something of a clanger recently. Just over a month ago the company announced that they had applied for FDA approval for their app. This was then followed up a month later with a second announcement saying that the app was pending approval.

During this time the price of the PTY token at the heart of their service went up considerably. Unfortunately, they then issued this statement:

The Reputation Game

Now, I wouldn’t like to say that Patientory is dishonest or anything of the sort, but this kind of situation does little to help their reputation, either of them as a company or of the technology as a whole.

In his latest book on reputation, Oxford University’s Rupert Younger highlights the three strands of reputation:

  1. Behaviors help to signal to others what they can expect from you.
  2. Networks are crucial because your reputation is less what you are than what others perceive you to be.
  3. Narratives are the final piece of the jigsaw and concern the way the message is being communicated.

Patientory has failed on each of these. Clearly, they were less than transparent in their behaviors around the FDA application, which given the importance of FDA approval is a major oversight from them. Because their dishonesty was related to the FDA, they also lack any authoritative friends to back them up, whilst they have also made a series of PR blunders in response to the situation, with a muddled response to the community of backers of their project. That this response comes hot on the heels of an online spat with people on Reddit has helped forge a narrative that they are not a company to rely upon.

In an industry as nascent as blockchain, that’s a cardinal sin and does significant damage to an already fragile reputation. It’s the kind of misstep that can’t be made too often if the technology is to develop as many of its advocates’ hope.

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Trusting Your Employees – Taking a Step Back

Recently, I posted my thoughts on 100% remote in the “When Will 100% Remote Be an Accepted Norm?” article. In the follow-up conversations that I have participated in since the article was published, there are consistent thoughts regarding “trust” as a key factor behind the lack of support for a fully remote Information Technology team position. As an unplanned follow-up, I plan to examine this issue of trust and why it is something that needs to be addressed.

Trust Defined

Regardless of the relationship, trust is always at the fundamental core and it will allow a relationship to blossom or to break apart. Taking technology out of the conversation, consider trust in a relationship you have with a loved one, a friend or a colleague in your career. As long as there is a degree of trust between you and that other person, the relationship remains at a level where you feel confident about the connection. However, once that trust is broken, the relationship takes a hit and instantly becomes less valued than it was before … especially by the individual who was exposed by the trust breakdown.

Navigating to Merriam-Webster, I found the 1a definition of “trust” as shown below:

Trust – assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. – Merriam-Webster

A diminishing level of any single aspect related to trust (like character, ability, strength or truth) can cause harm to the alliance, which is why so many aspects can lead to a lack of trust in a relationship. I’ve always heard that building trust is easy – especially when compared to attempting to rebuild trust from an unfortunate situation.

Trust Within Your Employment

With trust defined, I will now switch the focus on the trust with your employer.

At some point, most were interviewed and given an offer to begin work for an employer. The effort on the part of the interview team likely screened several candidates and performed numerous tasks before that first telephone-screen/initial interview was scheduled. By the time the offer letter was drafted, an immense amount of work had been completed by the employer, adding to the corporation’s investment in finding the right person for their open opportunity.

From the employee side, the interviews transpired and the offer letter was eventually received. After some negotiation, both the employee and the employer came to accept the terms of the offer, paving the way for the employer to fill a necessary position and the employee to continue a new career chapter.

With all of the work and effort put into place to onboard a new employee, it is hard to understand how a lack of trust can find its way into the employment relationship. So often, a lack of trust emerges, which caused me to perform some research into recognizing the lack of trust in the workplace.

Recognizing the Lack of Trust

I found an article on Monster.com, written by Pat Mayfield, on building trust in the workplace. As I read the article, I came to understand common ways in which a lack of trust enters the working relationship. I then wanted to determine if I could locate reasons why an employer would have trust issues with offering employees a 100% remote opportunity. I decided to focus on the top three reasons that were provided.

1. Be Honest

Being honest is Pat Mayfield’s number one reason for building trust in the workplace. Recommending that telling the truth, providing honest information, and avoiding stealing were bullet points that accented this point.

With respect to 100% remote, the item that appears to be the most applicable would be to actually perform the work assigned to the given employee. Meaning, the remote worker would simply not work when they are expected to be working. However, I think this issue follows the employee who is not honest at the core. That, the same employee would struggle to the same degree if required to work at a desk within an office 100% of the time.

When I consider Adi Gaskell‘s August 2017 post “Working from Home Boosts Performance by 13%,” the 100% remote employee is likely to get far more work completed than the alternative of working 100% in the office.

2. Use Good Judgement

The second reason Mayfield offered is related to using good judgment. Her point is to know what information to share and when to share/not share it.

While this aspect seems more related to gossip and the impact such conversations can have on a relationship, I think there is a valid point to using good judgment when working in a 100% remote scenario. Recently, I ran into a scenario with a project (where I am a remote developer on a team located across the United States) where I found myself at a design crossroads.

In some development environments, I could use my freedom to build out the design as I saw fit – which could not only take more time than expected but provide functionality that was not required or in scope. Instead, I used good judgment to reach out to not only the Dev Lead on our team but other developers on the project to make sure the right design decision was being made.

This is not a unique occurrence to me, but something every member of our team has employed – which is further enforced by the Agile practices we are employing.

3. Be Consistent

Here, Pat Mayfield is suggesting that showing up and doing your expected tasks are crucial to building trust in the workplace relationship. I could not agree more and believe this fully applies to the 100% remote scenario too.

While some may believe it is easy to hide while working remote, communication tools provide the ability to not only mark yourself as away but also be able to communicate (using @channel, @here, etc.) to everyone on the team your current status. Just today, a team member provided reminders of dental appointments, scheduled meetings, and other events which would supplement their away status – also providing an anticipated return time.

In reality, I find myself working longer hours in the 100% remote scenario. These extra hours do not have an impact on my work/life balance because I am spared the extra 45 – 60 minutes of commute time each day. So, in essence, I am being more consistent by being more dedicated than I would be in a situation which required me to work in an office setting all (or a portion) of the time.

Conclusion

Taking the three points offered by Pat Mayfield, I struggle to understand the rationale of trust being the issue holding back the 100% remote benefit. When I consider the amount of time and effort an organization took to reach the point where an offer letter was issued – I become confused in trying to understand why such a beneficial concept is not being adopted on a wider scale.

Some who commented on my original article talked about situations that offer less than 100% remote, which I understand so many corporations are doing today. However, I don’t understand the logic of paying for the associated office space for employees to have a part-time desk at their office when the individual will only be there a portion of the time. In an age of corporations trying to minimize cost, I don’t understand how a corporation is willing to pay for the extra office space – including the costs associated with cleaning, maintaining, and climate-controlling the facilities.

In the early age of corporate America, business professionals wore true business attire on a daily basis. They made certain their clothing selection was pressed nicely, with shoes shined to nearly a mirror-like appearance. If I could go back in time, I would enjoy the opportunity to ask that generation, “do you see a day when people will arrive at work wearing denim jeans, a cotton polo shirt, and casual un-polished shoes?”

I am certain every person I would poll from that time period would say that I was clueless. That makes me wonder if my thoughts on 100% remote are an indicator of how the future generation will demand to work.

Have a really great day!

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