Thursday, June 27, 2013

Building Trust and Releasing Control


 My guest blogger today is someone I met at a Wake Up Women event and immediately knew I had met a wonderful woman.  Although she was soft spoken, her energy made her stand out from the crowd. Five minutes into my conversation with her I realized what it was about her that had drawn me to her--an incredible sense of integrity that renewed my faith in the humanity. Yes here really are women who stand in their power and speak their truth no matter how life threatening it may be. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Marcy.

by Marcy J Maslov

You do not trust any of your staff to talk to clients because you do not know how they will respond to client requests for additional work.  As a result you find yourself working less and less on strategic initiatives that can build business.

How do you address this situation and get back to focusing on strategic initiatives?

 This is a true story shared by a colleague during an ethics presentation I delivered. The colleague was stumped and frustrated because the business was suffering and he didn’t know how to “turn the boat around.”

What are the issues inherent in the scenario? What advice would you give to this colleague?  What would you do if you were in his shoes?

Inherently, we have an issue of trust, but this is not the root cause of the problem here.  Something else has led us to take on all the work ourselves and “protect our territory”, so to speak. How do we learn to let go? How do we communicate our goals, expectations and preferences?  How do we delegate authority, and how do we determine reliability?

If we don’t figure out a way to focus on strategic initiatives our business will suffer greatly, ultimately to the point of closing the doors. We have to learn to let go and trust. But trusting requires us to establish a framework within which everyone in the organization understands their role, responsibility and authority.  This is really the root cause of the problem.  We haven’t established this framework, so we’re forced to trust blindly – and that translates to some as giving up control to everyone else.  Once we establish this framework, the next logical step is to hold everyone accountable for their actions. But first we should establish definitions of acceptable behavior so our expectations are clear and each individual can opt in or opt out.

Easier said than done, right?  Past history, current events, cultural values, or pressures of the day all conspire to get in the way of implementing this framework and communicating effectively.  We’re afraid of miscommunicating, and we’re afraid of the potential conflicts that might occur by holding people accountable. So we let things slide. And yet, if we look at the flipside, we might just find someone in our organization that is better than we are at developing client relations and who loves doing the work!

There’s always a positive for every negative. I think it is some sort of universal law.  So what is the positive opportunity in this situation?  Could we possibly learn something from our staff?  Could they be listening more actively to our clients, and keeping them engaged? Could we see new opportunities for products or services? Could we even re-define what we’re offering to more closely align with the needs and wants of our clients?

Let’s bring in the staff viewpoint to round out the discussion.  If the staff sees you taking away more and more responsibility, how do they interpret this?  Do they view this as a loss of trust?  Do they welcome the lower level of responsibility? Something in between?  Our associates always seem to have a gut reaction to the loss of trust.  It’s like laser vision.  They sense it, feel it, know it instinctively.  And they respond in various ways. I’ve actually seen reactions anywhere from gleeful acceptance, relief, resignation, defiance, or even destruction of company property. The ultimate consequence is losing key employees who feel undervalued and disengaged from the business.

We forget, sometimes, that letting go can actually be rewarding; that delegating authority to others can actually provide better results than we could achieve on our own.  It is harder, because it takes time to actually define what we want, communicate that desire clearly and build the relationships to a point where we can rely on the work of others.  

So here is the dilemma:  How do we build accountability and reliability in order to make it comfortable sharing responsibility with others?

What type of framework would you create in this scenario?  Write in your comments and share your perspectives on this situation. 

 I wish to thank Marcy for sharing these insights and scenarios from the workplace and place of integrity with us. Accountability and reliability are words that are becoming an endangered species in the faced paced business world of finances...and life in general.    

About the author:

After watching companies and clients struggle with ethical dilemmas, Marcy J. Maslov invented a business ethics board game to provide a practice arena for solving real-life ethical dilemmas. Marcy is founder and CEO of Empowerment Unlimited Coaching, LLC, a business coaching practice devoted to building strong, ethical leaders and entrepreneurs. She has extensive Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial background that includes facilitating corporate ethics courses, coaching professionals to define and achieve their own success and teaching business owners how to read and understand their own financial statements. Marcy has lived or worked in over 20 countries, including France, Mexico and Canada. She is a Certified Professional Coactive Coach and CPA and has earned her MBA from Duke University. Write to Marcy at and visit her websites and for special coaching and ethics program offers.

 About the author- Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos is a three- time breast cancer survivor who penned SURVIVING CANCERLAND. , Radio Co-host, keynote & high paid speaker, member & is represented by  Steve Allen PR Media. Follow her on her social media links and blogs from her websites & enjoy her free download  @