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Is Your Organization a High-Trust Network? Answer These Three Questions

By Mark Robinson, CMO and Co-founder of Kimble

It is exciting and stimulating to work for a growing business and most people want a piece of that exhilaration. However, moving from the start-up stage where everybody knows not just all of their colleagues’ faces but what their favourite lunch-stop is and what sports they follow, well, that can bring challenges.

One is the risk that employees stop feeling as if they are valued team members who are trusted to know what to do to and instead are becoming hampered by bureaucracy. One of my favourite quotes is from the British business guru John Harvey-Jones who said “No-one goes to work wanting to do a bad job, we just put so much red tape in their way that they give up”.

Of course, as the organization grows and more people come onboard, it simply can’t operate as informally. Past what is called ‘the Dunbar number’, it is no longer possible to operate effectively in a simple shout-across-the-office sort of way without structure or process. There are just too many people for that to work effectively.

But beware – this necessary shift to a more formal approach can mean going from a non-hierarchical structure where people are trusted to get on with their jobs and take responsibility, to one where they feel they are being held back. The organization can end up losing out because this kind of culture makes it harder to build and maintain high-performing teams.

Some signs that your organization is moving from a high-trust to a low-trust network include:

Are you being asked to collect and collate data that nobody looks at?

Sometimes as organizations grow and they add new technology, they don’t throw out the old ways of working. They carry on asking people to supply data that is no longer relevant or required. But if people know that they are filling in forms which are never likely to be used, it undermines their sense that what they contribute is valued. We argue at Kimble that it is vital to ensure that service professionals realize the importance of sharing their information with the organization – listen to this webinar on intelligent time capture for more insights on technology and process adoption.

How easy is to get all the information you need to succeed in your role?

Information-sharing is a two-way street. If you don’t know the company’s strategy for growth and what your team or department needs to achieve for it to get there, how can you know if you are succeeding? Giving people insight into the financials of how their area of the organization is performing enables them to affect them positively. For example, if project managers can see the baseline their projects were sold at they are in a stronger position to deliver them at that level.

Are decisions pushed upwards and handled too slowly?

In a start-up business, many of the people who come on board are known quantities – people in the founders’ networks. Responsibility and decision-making is often shared across the organization. But as it grows and new people come onboard, sometimes the decision-making stays in too small a team. That can mean that even if people have access to information, they can’t act on it. For instance, if a service engagement has started to veer off track, the time to deal with that is now – if everyone has to wait for the management meeting at the end of the month to decide what to do, then a valuable opportunity is lost. We argue at Kimble that using professional services automation with augmented intelligence can support and coach people across the organization with different levels of experience to make better decisions.

In conclusion, change is the only constant in the business world, and dynamic and growing organizations have to do things differently. But that shouldn’t mean they have to do things worse, in a less agile or more bureaucratic way. Technology provides powerful tools which can help to support a high-trust network in a growing business.

For more tips on maintaining employee engagement, download our Best Practice Guide Five Steps to Seeing the Consultant’s Eye View.

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