Bright and I had a very interesting chat about remote work, because of the COVID-19 lockdown situation in South Africa, they were thrown deep into the weirdness of distributed work.
Our conversation started with a simple question: “How do you know if someone is actually working when you can’t see them ?”. Most in-office manager’s who are used to making the connection between seeing and believing, must be thinking this at some point.
I thought about it for a moment and realised that we do not think about new hires like this at Automattic.
New hires are given full trust. They get access to all the systems, all decisions for the past 15 years, all the user data their role requires and the full faith in their ability to do what’s required to move the business forward.
My very first remote manager, Michael Krapf, had a saying that went something like this: “A good trend means a good worker, and a bad trend means a bad worker”. You could interpret it as; we should not evaluate people on an instance by instance basis, but should rather keep in mind what they do over a period of time and evaluate that.
In a work setting, low trust relationships are normally created when people don’t do what they say they were going to do. This doesn’t mean that we expect someone to be perfect, it’s just means that there is an expectation of progress, and obstacles being communicate in a timely and transparent manner.
When you have a low trust relationship, you will have to shorten the feedback periods considerably. This evaluation period should be well understood by all involved. The aim here should be to grow trust, not to have continuous checkups that puts only one side of the relationship at ease.
When trust grows, so should the evaluation period. In fact, you should expect trust to grow so much that there is no evaluation period. This is the peak of trust, all involved respects each other so much that, no news is good news and transparent communication is the natural outflow of progress.
Trust is also the basis of collaboration and collaboration the basis of a forward moving team. So start with high trust and work forward from there.
Featured Image by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash