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"The Two Way Street of Trust and Honesty"

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

"John, you need to have an open conversation with your boss," Christine advised her husband.

For the past few months, John had been grappling with a complex issue at his asset management firm. He realized that the company's financial processes were flawed, affecting the accurate handling of client funds. Initially, the problem was elusive, but as time passed, the gravity of the situation became undeniable. To make matters worse, John had inadvertently compounded the issue by building new processes on top of the existing, flawed ones.

Now, John faces a dilemma. His boss, Mortimer, is known for his zero-tolerance policy towards mistakes. Mortimer expects perfection, a standard he emphasizes in every team meeting.

In an ideal world, John would simply approach Mortimer, disclose the issue, and be hailed as the one who not only identified a significant liability but also proposed a solution. However, reality is rarely so accommodating. John is hesitant, unsure of how Mortimer will react. "Will he hold it against me? Could this cost me my job?" John wonders.

This hypothetical scenario could unfold in any organization, across any industry. It highlights the critical need for two key elements: trust and honesty.

Trust: Mortimer should trust that John will bring any discrepancies to light. Conversely, John should trust that Mortimer won't penalize him for coming forward, even if belatedly.

Honesty: Mortimer expects immediate reporting of any irregularities, while John hopes that Mortimer will own up to any systemic issues that may have contributed to the problem.

Christine's advice to John about being honest is spot-on, but honesty isn't a one-way street. It's not just about reporting issues; it's also about creating an environment where people feel safe to do so.

Honesty becomes complicated when employees fear retribution. Trust, however, is straightforward: if everyone acts in the organization's best interest, honesty becomes second nature.

The solution?

Cultivate a culture of vulnerability and compassion. Acknowledge that no one has all the answers and support each other in finding solutions. By doing so, we lay the groundwork for a more honest, trustworthy, and ultimately successful organization.

Marco Houwen |


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