Trust or Bust – attracting and growing performance professionals

In his book (2006) The Speed of Trust, Stephen M R Covey draws together a very convincing argument about how a high level of trust shared by organisational colleagues, management, clients, suppliers and distributors, has a positive effect on the speed in which things get done and the associated cost.  No doubt this extends to quality as well.

In essence it’s an economic formula: when trust is high, speed increases and cost decreases, but when trust is at a low level, speed decreases and cost increases.  Simple, brilliant message!

In a previous post “Harnessing Creativity – one way to control budget blowouts” I indicated that it was necessary to place some constraint on creativity without stifling it.   I suggested it was all about balance, because creativity and certainly innovation will only flow when levels of trust are high. 

The Learning Cafe theme for November 2011 reinforced, in my mind, the link between trust and creativity and how important it is to attract, engage and retain good people in learning, development and knowledge functions.

It’s important to build reputation outside the organisation through practical example and employee advocacy so as to attract the people we need.  And the people we need are those with infectious enthusiasm, who are willing to learn and grow, to think broadly and creatively, question methods, apply theory appropriately and focus on performance.  We need to engage these people when we get them by building high levels of trust and also pride so they are more likely to display discretionary effort (go the extra mile) and pride (have quality mindset, speak highly of their work, work mates and the learning function).  That is to become advocates for our organisations and the learning functions.

So, while “outside” recognition and reputation is important, L&D functions need to build these attributes within the organisation to ensure we provide compelling and meaningful work with professional growth opportunities while encouraging creativity and the sharing of know-how, listening to ideas and acting on them. Trust or Bust – attracting and growing performance professionals



  1. Jeevan – I believe we will keep L&D talent by leading them well and engaging them by utilising all the classic drivers of engagement – which all result in trust and pride and compelling work, demonstrated through discretionary effort and advocacy for the learning function and the organisation.

    Within the learning and development field I don’t think salary is a driver to keep anyone in the profession. From my experience people who stay in learning and development are enthusiastic and dedicated and get a huge buzz from the opportunitiy to make a difference to people’s careers and lives by encouraging learning.

    Some classroom facilitators love the role of teaching, maybe its a power thing for some, or for others a way of sharing know-how. Some L&D people see the huge potential ahead for a performance focussed and technology enabled future for learning. Some just like working closely with people.

    Yes, sure everyone wants more money, but that alone won’t attract or retain. If, in some circumstance, money is the driver for someone to enter the learning function, they tend not to last long.

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