Shawn Adamsson
Jul 28, 2017 · 3 min read

Everybody gets stuck, we get stuck in relationships, stuck in jobs, stuck inside of other people’s expectations and, maybe worst of all, stuck inside of our own expectations. Organizations get stuck too. Some are organizationally aware and can see that they’ve stopped moving forward and, if they nurtured the right team, they can take steps to get moving again; however, in our experience that’s a pretty small group.

Why do organizations get stuck? Risk aversion, micromanagement, mission drift, loss of passion for the mission, failure to adapt to market or societal realities … there are probably as many reasons as there are organizations but I bet if you get to the heart of the issue you’ll frequently find teams that lack trust. We lose faith in the ability of our teams to adapt or execute, we lose faith in ourselves to lead (and everyone has the ability lead), we make policies/changes/cuts/decisions that make people feel unsafe, we hoard information, we don’t talk about threats, vulnerabilities or insecurities, we turn inward, we blame, we make assumptions and we slowly and quietly erase trust. A team that can’t trust can’t cooperate, can’t communicate and certainly can’t thrive. Reestablishing trust, real trust, takes time and effort but it can work with even the most unlikely (and difficult) teams.

We all have an intuition that trust pays dividends, right? Well now there’s science to back it up, research published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) has found that “compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.” The good news is that we can build a culture of trust and we can start today.

But the bottom line here is that a team without trust cannot get unstuck.

Getting unstuck means change, but change is uncertainty and uncertainty is stressful, even painful. But if you’re stuck you’re probably dealing with the flip side of those HBR findings; stress anyway; low energy, low productivity, increased absences, low engagement, team members taking home stress and high rates of burnout. Would you rather rather face the stress of intentional change or the stress of wondering when the world to roll past you and leave you obsolete?

When you’re ready to move forward remember to be patient with your team and with yourself. Check out this great blog from Facebook’s Julie Zhuo to help you through the change.

This is all very easy to write in a blog but most people and organizations have structures and behaviours deployed to avoid change, to avoid stress and to avoid pain. Steven Penfield coined a name for these evolutionary defences, The Resistance. We’ll dig into that more later.

With each of these blogs we’re going to include a bunch of resources that have inspired us. There are lots of people out there writing on culture and leadership and we don’t subscribe to all of them but we’ve found the beginning of fascinating lines of thought in here and we hope you will too.

Recommended Books

Leaders Eat Last
Give and Take
Leading from the Emerging Future
The Speed of Trust

Recommended Podcasts

Hidden Brain
Revisionist History

Recommended Reading

An Easy Way to Get Your Co-workers to Trust You More
Employee Trust and Workplace Performance (Warning: academic research)

Recommended Videos

Wyrd World

Musings on Organizational Culture

Shawn Adamsson

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Opinionated. Learning. Often wrong.

Wyrd World

Musings on Organizational Culture