Dialogue Q2 2016

Page 24



The formula that breeds confidence A psychological assessment that defines individuals’ impact at work will help managers trust their teams to deliver, writes Dr John Mervyn-Smith

Picture the scene: two parents playing in the park with their young children. One of the kids, a two-year-old, is being tossed into the air and caught. The child squeals with delight and pleads for more. They trust, implicitly, that they will be caught, that they are safe. Such observations suggest that trust is ‘hard-wired’, that, as social animals, we are prepared to depend upon, and trust in, others. Yet many managers and leaders fail to trust their employees. Why? The answer lies in the fact that nurture inevitably shapes nature when it comes to trust.

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We all have experiences of being supported and of being let down, and these experiences shape our expectations of colleagues. Optimists continue to trust until they have been let down, while pessimists will be wary from the outset. They are slow to trust until they know they can, that it is safe to do so. We develop constructs to help in this process of trust that are often a product of experience and received wisdom: for example, “you can always trust a surgeon”. The most common construct that shapes our expectations of trust is that of ‘perceived similarity’.

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