by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

Maybe you’re the problem.

When you consider the current well-being mantra — all about trusting, supportive environments — it’s ironic how many wellness folks we meet with a basic mistrust of colleagues. If you’re among them, and convinced it’s not your problem but theirs, maybe it’s time for closer examination of how you’re going about your business. Start by asking a few questions:


  • Are you sending mixed signals? Nothing frustrates coworkers more than conflicting information from Monday to Tuesday. Consistency in objectives, plans, and messages has a grounding effect that allows your colleagues to work from a solid foundation and feel like they’re contributing to something meaningful. That doesn’t mean you can never change direction. It simply means that when you do, you go to great lengths to communicate why — well before the ground shifts.
  • Are you being human? With a to-do list as long as your arm it’s sometimes hard to sit and listen to how someone’s weekend went, but that’s exactly what most people need to feel a connection. It doesn’t mean you have to learn every last detail of how they closed down the bar Saturday night, but a “Do anything fun this weekend?” inquiry goes a long way toward humanness.
  • Are you soliciting input and acting on it? Our best solutions often come when we draw on the collective wisdom and experience of those we work with, no matter their background. And whether you implement another person’s idea or not, be sure to acknowledge their contribution personally. Not acting on or acknowledging requested effort erodes trust.
  • Are you communicating clear priorities? Everyone wants to know they’re contributing to something that’s important and of value to the organization. With specific objectives and collaborative deadlines documented for all to reference, there’s less chance someone will feel tempted to cherry-pick their work based on personal preference. With documented priorities, no one has the right to ask why someone was working on this and not that.

If you’re still convinced you’re not part of the problem, you probably know who is. Try this: Pick one from the list above that you could do better and go talk to them. “I don’t feel we have the level of trust with each other we should to do our best work, so I’m going to work on this… and I would like you to hold me accountable.” Don’t ask them to work on anything except holding you accountable, then leave the article with them; ask for a meeting in a month to see how you’re doing. Chances are they’ll take a peek at the other questions and find something they can work on.


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