Trust But Verify

For the history buffs amongst you, “Trust But Verify” was a quote widely attributed to President Reagan in the late 80s when dealing with the Russians and in particular nuclear disarmament.

I think this quote applies every bit as much to running a business and the interaction that needs to go on between employers and their employees.

Are you trusting employees too much or too little? Know that it’s always a balancing act.

I say that because today’s technology has allowed us to put up cameras to watch everyone, everywhere at every time if we so choose to do so. There is an element of security from not only seeing what’s going on [or, what’s not going on], to where our paid-for- equipment and materials maybe walking out the door with our unwanted partners at our company. Cameras do provide a safety aspect of who is seeking entry to our premises. This can be indispensable depending on where a shop is located. Although, in the new world, the reality is any workplace is vulnerable.

Plus, we now have computer programs that sit there and can see where our employees are spending their work time. It’s quite frightening as to how much time is being devoted to social networking and worse. I think you know the types of sites I’m talking about. We can and certainly should limit what websites get accessed at the workplace. There is no justification anymore for “totally free access” to the internet.

But is snooping alone how you want to know how your employees are spending their time on the computer and online? And if yes is that sending the right message?

The hard truth is many companies who have limited online access through restricted access to what sites can be visited only to find their staff taking to their own smartphones to fulfill their online addiction to social networking, online shopping and more.

It’s an addiction that’s tough to fight!

My aim for my clients is to do as President Reagan advocated which is “Trust But Verify.” I don’t want my clients to take spying to the extreme. It sends a much more harmful message which is, “I don’t trust you.” And I think it’s downright laziness and a horrible misconception that management can sit in their office and know what’s really going on at their company from their computer alone. That’s just wrong on so many levels.

Don’t forget…employees come to work not just for a paycheck but to belong to a family. The only question to you, as management, is what type of family structure are you offering? Is it one that is an us vs. them or of blatant mistrust? If yes, I know I don’t want to be part of that family structure and neither do good employees.

Here’s what I advocate:

  1. Create a feeling of trust and interaction that accomplishes the best of all worlds.
  2. Run your company by, “Walking Around” and interacting with your team on a regular basis.
  3. Do regular unannounced side-by-sides on a regular basis with your office staff.
  4. Do regular unannounced ride-alongs with Techs.

Remember, the goal is to let them know you’re there for support and to get better together.

For you to know, it does serve a secondary goal of getting out there and verifying that the majority of time spent at work is on work.

The next higher level of verifying is creating an ongoing Mystery Shopper program. That’s where you have Mystery Shoppers trained on how to call your shop and put your CSRs [aka Customer Service Reps] through their paces. It’s also a program that has service calls that put your Techs through their process.

This whole verification process works best if your goal is to catch them doing something good and make a big deal out of it.

Al Levi teaches contractors how to run their businesses with less stress and more success with operating manuals. To get control of your business and grow the right way, get The 7-Power Contractor® Signature Operating Manuals System at today.

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