1 year of trust

I started my current job one year ago. This post is mostly an attempt to reflect on the varied and interesting things I’ve learned in 12 months as an Improver.


No post about Improving would be complete without mentioning trust. I showed up to the office at 7:00AM on my first day, to go over new employee paperwork and orientation before going to the client site.
I was handed Speed of Trust before I sat down. They’re really into trust here. My first impression of it was that trust was some nonsensical corporate initiative. I’d worked at enough places to have seen my fair share of these. Exxon had safety, which i’ll mention was not a hollow buzzword like every other one I had seen. They can trace a dollar value in stock drop to every safety incident at that company, so it makes sense to walk their talk. Corporate Excellence, Something Fresh, Being There. These were talked a big game about, meetings held and awards given, but nothing really actually changed in the day-to-day. I figured trust was going to be another like that. I can play ball. Say the words, go through the motions. Growing up, my parents dragged me to church every sunday. I can mumble meaningless phrases and do the sign of the cross motion, but its just rote behavior. Participation because I’m told to do it, or because everyone else in the room is doing it and I don’t want to stand out.
Trust? How can that be a real thing? How do you do trust?
I thought I was a reasonably trustworthy person. Boy scout, generally upstanding individual. I’d told some fibs in my day, but uusally only to get laid. And never about like important stuff.
I was stumbling around in the darkness. In my own home, with a vague idea of where things were. But reading that book, doing the classes, taking part in the initiative, those were like turning on the light.
This company really actually cares about trust. Every 2 weeks since I started, we’ve had a meeting to talk about trust behavior and how it can be improved. I was meeting regularly one on one with a partner to discuss trust topics. There was also a blogging platform I wrote in daily on the subject of trust. Have since moved here so topics can diverge somewhat from work-appropriate or trust-centric musings.
In a meeting about trust, someone asked for an elevator pitch about what trust is. I came up with this:

Trust is time. Time you save when you have it and time it costs you when you don’t.
If you left your crackhead relative housesitting your place while you went on vacation, you’d be calling every day, checking the security cameras constantly.
If you left a responsible person you trusted to housesit your place, you would just assume everything was fine unless you heard otherwise.

This company doesn’t just care about trust. They actually care. On more than one occasion the President of the houston enterprise has offered bring dinner to my house when I mentioned that I’d be taking my wife in for surgery, or was otherwise going through some personal difficulty. I have never experienced an offer of assistance of that magnitude from a co-worker. I was so surprised that I declined, having figured that I’d just get take-out or something. “politely decline” is my default selection for most kinds of decisions.

When asked “how are you?” it is not acceptable to give a canned response. You will be hassled about it, good naturedly. Because Devlin wants a real answer. He actually is interested in how you are doing. I am so used to just having a generic small-talk response ready for that question that he caught me maybe a dozen times before I started actually thinking about my answer before giving one.

Devlin left about a day earlier than I did for vacation. His is 3 weeks, but I’m back in the office just a week later. I noticed something after I came back from vacation. And this might sound sappy, but the office is darker. And not just because there are fewer bodies on that side to trigger the motion detectors and turn the lights on.
There is a kind of energy missing. No impromptu conversations about the latest dad-joke he’s heard.