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Trust is good and control is part of it

Blog by Rob Gering, talent and leadership developer at ORMIT

Rob Gering .png

By Rob Gering

Talent and leadership developer at ORMIT

Self-managing suits ORMIT well. People taking their responsibility, feeling ownership, sharing information and speaking out to themselves and others might sound like a good situation, but it can be difficult to implement in practice. This is not how everyone approaches their jobs and, as it turns out, it's a rather difficult process. Why is that, and what can be done to make that process easier?

Don't let go, but hold on differently

I've witnessed quite a few processes in my time and what I've noticed is that self-management (self-organising) teams are becoming an increasingly common solution to situations that just aren't working anymore. The reason for implementing a new approach seems to be little other than "let's try something new", rather than stemming from the conviction that self-management helps people make the most of their strengths. The biggest change has to be made by the managers, who have to adjust to a new role. Do they have it in them to change their style? Often, they approach the new system with the attitude that it's up to the team to solve an issue, because it's no longer their responsibility. And that's where things go wrong. As Wouter Hart eloquently put it (known for his book Verdraaide Organisaties, or Twisted Organisations in English) "Managers shouldn't let go, but rather hold on differently"

"Curiosity might just be more important than intelligence."
Rob Gering .png

By Rob Gering

Talent and leadership developer at ORMIT

Sources of control

How can you demonstrate that you trust your people in today's complex world and how can I link trust to the feeling that I matter as a manager? There are many different types of control. The need for control often comes from 5 different sources.

  1. Caring
  2. Curiosity
  3. Feedback/eagerness to learn
  4. Fear
  5. Distrust

Ask lots of questions

The first three are positive sources of control, whereas the last two are negative. Feeling that someone cares is a basic need of people in groups, and experiencing that feeling is very beneficial. Curiosity might just be more important than your intelligence. Do you want to get to the bottom of things? How things work? If you ask questions from this point of view, the other person will experience it as interest and support rather than meddling. Feedback is an important way to gather information about how you're performing. Are we doing well? What can be improved on? At the same time, feedback shows that you take the other person seriously, which is important to feel.

Fear is a powerful driver of behaviour. When you feel unsafe, you'll start looking for safety, something to hold onto. In that case, fear will feed a need for control, which will result in you carefully monitoring all available information. What is there to say about distrust? You may distrust someone else because you think they're not motivated enough and aren't doing a good job. When you distrust someone, you doubt their good intentions


So, what can we conclude? Trust is good and control is part of it, as long as you're using the right sources. Want to respond? Pleas do!

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