Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Trust and control


Greece bailout – learning for the balance of trust and control at work

During the negotiations about the latest Greek bailout, trust was the keyword in granting $80Bn of support. We always knew trust was valuable, now we know just how much it is worth.

Unfortunately the EU tied to mitigate distrust with control, sending observers and policing bank accounts to check compliance. Now even the parties who reached agreement don’t think it will endure.

I assume politics will make sure some deal is reached but it will never work without a willing acceptance from Greece, who will never in reality repay their total debt without support.

We see this mirrored at all levels at work. We lose trust in a colleague, department, organization or even a whole industry and the response is rules, disciplinary processes, supervision and regulation.

But when we use rules to enforce trust, at best we get grudging compliance. Normally we create resistance and it becomes a game to get around the rules rather than do the right thing.

Until we change the performance or behaviour of the individual or team or the ethics of an industry that has lost trust we cannot rebuild trust.

In building trust we require a willing acceptance of the need to rebuild and to some extent an acceptance of culpability for the breach. If I feel the control is unfair then trust will be further damaged.

The language and intent of the current Greek deal on both sides says there is a long way to go to rebuild trust. Don’t expect tighter controls and rules to help.

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