Trust makes us lazy

You often hear about the importance of trust in organisations.  Stepping away from a command and control management style requires you to trust your team and vice versa.

BUT, trust doesn’t come for free, it has to be earned.

It requires you to be open, honest and consistent in your actions for a loooooong time.  But once trust starts to grow, confidence is rising and management and teams are beginning to see the advantages and possibilities.

I believe, as a manager, you have an important responsibility to foster trust and work on it every day.

Now what happens when you have finally succeeded?  Can you sit back and focus on other things?

Yes, to some extent, if it wasn’t for our human nature.

Trust makes us lazy.

Let’s compare this with a relationship.  The first months are excited, you’re running on the tip of your toes trying to prove you’re worthy of each other’s love.  You’re building up trust by sharing your deepest feelings, opening the gate to your soul.  This doesn’t last forever.  Half a year later, you’ve done the math and are confident that you’re worthy of each other.  You’re no longer walking at the tip of your toes, you’re not bringing in the same effort as you used to.  Things start to settle down.

I feel it’s the same in business.  Once trust exists between management and teams, a decline in effort starts to take place.

This is where I believe a 21st century manager can make a difference.  He can keep the team on their toes by challenging them, in a healthy way.  Instead of pushing their limits, he can help them keep their interest by feeding them with new exciting goals and prevent a decline in performance.

About Nick Oostvogels

Hi, I'm an independent management consultant. My biggest strengths are located in the fields of teamwork, motivation, leadership and continuous improvement. In the IT industry you find a lot of these values in the agile movement, in which I often act as a project leader, product owner or coach. My interests go a lot further, into other industries where we find these values in lean production. Besides that, I try to broaden my horizon as much as possible, always looking for better ways of doing business.


  1. Good point – but poor solution. A twentieth-century view of a “twenty-first century manager”. With people working well, in a high-trust environment, they naturally challenge each other. Of course, as long as managers still exist, they can and should participate in that dynamic. But to imply that it’s their (the managers’) responsibility does a disservice to the abilities and courage of the workers.

    – Bob

    • Bob,

      I agree with your point that it is not only the responsibility of the manager. Maybe the blog post is too much focused on the management side of the story. Like in every relationship, both sides can contribute equally with their own experience and motivation. It was not my intention to claim that only management can challenge.
      Thanks for your comment

  2. @bob @Noostvog I think it may be the simple change of a word. Replace 21 century “Managers” with 21 Century “Leaders”. Leader has a completely different connotation than manager. what are needed are fewer managers (maybe none) and more leaders. but leaders require leadership and followership. that is a whole other post.

    But really. You can not run a business without leaders. Even scrum has the Product Owner who sets direction prioritizes the backlog etc…But leaders not managers.

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