EDGE & Trust
Recently at work I've been given an opportunity to be part of a mentorship program called EDGE. The program offers mentorship and a peer group to share with. It's an interesting experience and I'm enjoying it and grateful for the opportunity.
Our first session was this week before Thanksgiving and we talked about trust. Trust makes sense as the first session with a new group. We need to find some common ground and have a shared sense of experience. It’s hard to have an honest mentorship without some level of trust. However, I ended up coming out of this first session with two major questions or maybe concerns.
First, and probably trivially, came from some associated reading as part of the lesson. We were given a collection of articles and whitepapers as part of the lesson to read as additional resources. The one article that stuck with me was a whitepaper from the Center for Creative Leadership titled “Why Trust is Critical for Team Success”.
This particular paper stuck with me partially for it’s opening sentence: “Trust is ‘hot’”. I couldn’t help but cringe at this. I don’t think the paper ever got better. I should probably give it the benefit of the doubt given its place as a corporate paper trying to convince leadership that they should foster a trusting environment in their workforce. In the end, it just ends up coming across as incredibly distant from a real work environment.
It feels odd to read a paper that legitimately and earnestly is trying to make an argument that you should make sure your employees trust you and that you trust them. This feels so dated. I wonder if this message is targeted at some generational divide that I’m not cognizant of. I can understand having a work ethic of doing your job regardless of whether you trust your boss or your company, but I feel like that kind of employee has been fading away for a while. More and more of my generation wants an employer (and a team) they can trust. It doesn’t seem revolutionary, or even informative, to write a paper about this.
The second thing that really struck me about our first session was the idea of trust as a binary. The exercise for this particular lesson was to write a “lifeline” to share with the group. This lifeline was to be a visual depiction of our life experiences sharing the ups and downs of our life without leaving things out. The lesson presents this as an exercise in trust. You need to share these things with your group to show you trust them.
I chafe at this a little. I don’t think I need my work peers to know the exact details of my childhood traumas in order to trust me. I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t have friends in your professional network or that you can’t share things with your coworkers. What I am saying is that trust isn’t a binary of knowing everything about a person and knowing nothing about them.
Our next group meeting I volunteered to share my lifeline with the group, so I suppose I’ll need to work out what space between those two endpoints I’ll need to walk.