Trust in the company, key to effective delegation 

Companies that cultivate trust increase productivity, improve the work environment, and foster collaboration. 

Let’s imagine that one day, one of our children tells us that they just got their driver’s license and asks to borrow the family car for a ride. Would we give them the keys? Rarely would the answer be a resounding “yes”. Among the parents I speak to in my courses, most are skeptical of their children’s newly acquired skills (aptitudes) or their responsibility: drinking alcohol, racing, or not following traffic rules (attitudes). Even if young people assure their parents they will comply with all requirements, parents find it difficult to hand over their car due to a critical factor that is often not explicitly mentioned: trust. 

In organizations, we notice a similar pattern: trust is an implicit, hidden, and immensely valuable variable. Building, developing, and sustaining trust increases productivity, improves the work environment, and encourages greater collaboration. Not to mention the reduction in control costs, savings in resource allocation, and lower employee turnover we see in organizations with higher levels of trust.

Challenges in trusting others 

Trusting collaborators is not always easy. I’ve heard many team leaders say they had no one to delegate to when the real issue was a lack of trust: they believed that their team members wouldn’t be able to fulfill the task or that they wouldn’t execute it in the way they would have chosen. Another common case is that of a manager who claims to delegate but overlooks decisions made by their collaborators or issues directives on matters that were supposed to be delegated. That delegation, only in words, undermines the professional development of team members. 

How to build trust in the organization? 

Within work teams, there are two types of trust: technical trust, which revolves around the ability to perform a task or make a decision (aptitudes), and motivational trust, which depends on the perceived commitment of the other person (attitudes). 

Usually, before delegating, we tend to prioritize technical knowledge, but that alone is not enough. It doesn’t matter if we have a Jordan or a Federer on the team in terms of technical skills; if they lack motivation, their talent won’t be sufficient. In the best case, they will cease to contribute to the team’s success. In the worst case, they may make mistakes that work against the team. That’s why it’s important to know both the aptitudes and attitudes of team members. Let’s ask ourselves: do we encourage them to enjoy their tasks? Do we foster motivation? Can we align their interests with those of the company? 

By combining different degrees of technical and motivational trust, six quadrants emerge: 

In teams with “radical distrust,” delegation is very difficult, and it’s necessary to simultaneously work on technical trust and motivational trust. The basic trust quadrants are more favorable. With dedication, capacity tests, and commitment, we can move from this level to the virtuous trust level, where we will have teams that demonstrate passion and commitment to the project, as well as competence and sound decision-making for delegated tasks. 

To transition from one level to another in technical trust, training and development are crucial: they must be planned and not circumstantial. If we aim to enhance motivational trust, it is essential to understand the team’s interests and desires, establish a development plan that benefits both the individuals and the organization, and define formal incentive mechanisms. 

When members of the organization trust each other, alignment, collaboration, and results improve. But trust is not built overnight; it requires time and dedication. Working on the motivational and technical aspects will ultimately aim to enhance delegation. For the team member, delegation allows for personal growth. And for the manager, it enables a focus on generating greater value. 

Matías Iannotti 

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