Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Are We Trusting Technology More Than Ourself ?

It appears that we are slowly trusting technology more as an effective tool to trust human beings. We are driven by our passion for technology, which makes us believe that we can form good bonds with people. In this pursuit, we don’t trust ourself to act as a bridge in forming human bonds. As a result, technology is becoming dominant over our lives, and we are becoming its slave. We feel restless when we don’t see mobile phone in our hand. That restlessness is not so much evident when our near and dear ones are not with us. We tend to trust that electronic communication will help us maintain strong contacts with them. We don’t feel the necessary urge to see them in front of us. We also don’t make efforts to visit them. We feel that it will be merely a wastage of time. We think that why not utilize the limited time by surfing  on the social networking sites?

The first thing we search for religiously in the morning, is our mobile phone, prayers come after that, forget the people who are with us. Social networking sites, and other applications are becoming our obsession.  When we travel, we don’t make efforts to talk to the people, and develop   bonds. Instead, we depend on technology to build up contacts with others. We are oblivious of our immediate environment, where we see other people themselves busy with their mobile phone. So, why should we take any initiative in making efforts to engage in conversations? The same thing is visible in parties, conferences, events, etc where many people tend to withdraw from making conversations on the pretext that they are busy with their phones. This lazy approach in depending on technology does not help in building up strong heart-to-heart bonds. We tend to believe that why make unnecessary efforts in intermingling with people of different temperaments, so we take  recourse to technology to hide our inabilities to accept different kinds of people. As a result, we  are not able to nurture our relationships. A layer of superficiality is clearly visible, which makes others also realise that through electronic communication, we are just maintaining formality in our relationship.

At work-place, even for internal communication, we depend on electronic form, instead of making efforts to visit our colleagues. In conflicting situations, this approach  doesn’t resolve the issues, as our egos destroy the chance of conflict resolution as  we avoid making face-to-face conversation with a strong desire for genuine dialogue. For an  organisation’s  external communication, we have a strong feeling that electronic communication will  be sufficient to achieve our purpose. But, we are mistaken. I feel personal visits are important in many of the cases to enhance an organisations’s profile, or achieve the project targets. Electronic communication can be successful here only if the self-motivated human efforts are made in taking pains to visit people.

The politicians are making these days frenetic efforts to utilise electronic communication to build up their popularity amongst the people. They don’t make efforts to personally visit the people in their constitutency, and form one-to-one contact. As a result, I feel, the trust level of the people in the politicians does not nurture. Electronic communication can only be a momentary way to win over the hearts of the people. The long-term benefits can be maintained only if the politicians show their sincerity in making visits, and follow up with the people. The people today are smart to understand the limits of electronic communication, as it can be used  to create a situation, which at the ground-level does not exist.

I think the tendency to trust on technology, and not in us is limiting the growth of our personalities. I feel   our full potentialities can emerge only if  we speak, express and maintain face-to-face contacts through our inner urge to indulge in sincere heart-to –heart dialogue. Our presence itself can create an  effective aura which can attract people around us, so that ever-lasting relationships are built upon which can give a real joy in life. Technology can hide our inabilities, biases in personality etc, which can only hamper our personal growth, as a result of which we are not able to learn, and evolve. If we continue to be dictated by technology, then we will merely become  mechanical robots. So, let us develop the right  wisdom to use technology judiciously.



Sunday, 22 June 2014

Increasing Use of Trust As A Communications Medium

When Narendra Modi was actively campaigning for BJP, he constantly used the word  ‘Trust’  to strike a popular chord in the people’s psyche. He exhorted the voters to trust him, and give him a chance. A strong call for trust, from the voters, appeared to evoke heart-filled sentiments in the people. Similarly, Arvind Kejriwal, AAP leader at one point of time repeatedly asked the middle class and youth  to have trust in AAP’s ability to provide a clean government devoid of corruption. I think politicians are increasingly using the word ‘trust’ to win public sympathy. In most of the cases, their often use of the word ‘trust’ is an emotional ploy in their pursuit of power.

The corporates and business houses  too now feel that they have to carve their clean image by using  the word ‘trust’ in their communication strategies. The speeches of their business heads are laced with the word ‘trust’. When you see the advertisements today, you will feel that copy-writers increasingly use the word ‘trust ’so that people buy the products. Today, the consumer is not a fool. I don’t think that catchy advertising slogans with dominant use of word ‘trust’ will change a consumer’s perception.

At the level of society, we see  the more use of word ‘trust’ in verbal communication. In family, the husband and wife constantly ask each other to trust, so that their relationship becomes strong. A desperate communication medium of trust is used to remove marital discord. The parent-child relationship is witnessing a big upheaval. Values are changing, and parents who are more attached to old legacy, find difficult to adjust to the changing times. In this scenario, the parents and children more often use the word ‘trust in their verbal communication, when things go awry. Both parents and children try to convince each other that they have deep trust amongst them.
The organizations, or sectors, today when there is trust-deficit all around, portray themselves as trust-worthy to build up their image. Their communication strategies are geared towards this, and often this becomes a PR exercise. The corporates, in the grab of Corporate Social Responsibility, are using CSR as medium to show their deep trust in the community welfare. The NGOs, cooperatives and  civil-society organizations, which are people-based, naturally use trust as a communication medium to win popular support.

Increasing use of ‘trust’ as a  medium of communication  in all walks of life clearly indicates that we realize the importance of trust. We have  strong conviction   that without trust, systems will collapse, and social norms wither away. But, how to assess the genuineness of trust claims from all quarters? I think trust-based surveys are very important to assess the impact of ‘trust’ as a communications tool. These surveys should touch all the areas of polity, society and economy. Trust-based surveys with defined parameters in organizations/sectors will also show interesting results. Definite and clear-cut strategies would then emerge which would help in solving the problem of distrust everywhere.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Evaluate Trustworthiness of Candidates Before Recruiting

Do you want the most trusted candidates in your company? Do you want people who can be trusted in your organisation for a longer period? Do you want people who have strong ethical values in your company? I think when trust-deficit is increasing in organizations, it is a big challenge for companies and organizations to find trust-worthy people. The success of modern organizations is built upon people whom you can trust to deliver the goods.

While recruiting people, we need to give due focus on gauging the trustworthiness of candidates. The qualifications, experience and professional background are no doubt important. But, they are geared towards efficiency, and effectiveness, which do not work beyond a point. In the times of crisis, trustworthy people will give you hope. You will feel that there are committed folks around you, who will not let you down. Trustworthy people, may not be that efficient, as compared to those who are professionally more capable, but are driven by mere passion for money. However, these  group of people will evoke more confidence, then those who will not miss any opportunity to leave the company for greener pastures.

Trustworthy people in organizations are driven by mission in their life. not merely short-time profit-making objective. The missionary zeal of such people can take organisations to new heights. So, it will be a big challenge for you to find such people.
I think we need to develop a scientific approach to find people who can be trusted while recruiting them. A trust-based test  based on effective questionnaire should be devised, which can test the trustworthiness of candidates. Modern statistical  tools must be used to formulate such test. The measurement of this must be done through a software, which can give measurable outputs. Then, only we can evaluate  trustworthiness of the candidates. I think trust-based test, will definitely be useful in gauging the aptitude, and behaviour of the candidates when they start working.

Organisational dynamics today is built upon trust, which is so difficult to find in the volatile times today. The stark reality is that we need to think, and act differently. So, when next time you are hiring people, try your best to gauge the trustworthiness of the candidates.  

Monday, 7 April 2014

Three Reasons Why My Blog on Trust Makes Me Happy?

 Trust has its own beauty. I didn’t know about it when I started the blog. But, slowly when I started writing on it, I came to understand its real depth. There are three reasons why  my blog makes me happy;

1] I have come to understand that trust has a multi-dimensional character. There are so many aspects of life, I need to explore. They are related to individual, society,  organisation, sector, politics, economy, etc. Whenever I analyse   any development, the trust perspective comes into my mind. I feel happy that I have created something, in the form a blog which has deep relevance.

2] Now, I feel the practical impact of the blog in my own life, which makes me happy.  As my day  begins, I feel I could generate trust everywhere. When I go to work, I try my best to build up a trust-worthy relationship with all. In my family life, the effect of my blog is seen all the time. I try hard to build up an atmosphere of mutual trust so that we all feel happy in the family. The blog has been a real catalyst in my personal transformation.

3] The blog has given me a new mission in life. When we have a mission, then we feel happy. Every minute of our life makes us realize that we have been born with some purpose. Through my blog, I have understood, that my mission is to create awareness for building up trust at all levels so that trust deficit does not threaten our social fabric. I see myself as a change-agent in this regard. An attempt to find solutions through my writings makes me happy..  

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Is Unsolicited Advice Good For Organisational Trust?

It happens to all of us. At the work-place, when we are in a difficult situation, our stress level increases. We feel so tense, and we don’t know what to do? Our enthusiasm wanes, and we feel the need of someone who can help us. Due to our ego levels, we don’t feel the need to seek anyone’s advice. An office colleague who gives us unsolicited advice gives us relief. But, we don’t know to what extent we should trust this unsolicited advice?

People who give unsolicited advice in organizations, do so due to following reasons;
  • Genuine concern for the growth of the employees, ir-respective of hierarchy positions. So, trustworthiness of this category of people is more. They evoke trust from people to whom they give unsolicited advice.
  •  People at higher hierarchy levels feel that they are more powerful. They are status conscious, so they feel that giving unsolicited advice is their natural right.

At the work-place ,unsolicited advice may be primarily related to your work, but, in some cases, unsolicited advice may be related to  your behavior, attitude, personal life, personal relationships, etc. When someone gives you unsolicited advice, you should;
  •  Accept it with an open mind. Say ‘thank you’ to your superior, or even a person who is lower to your rank.
  •  If the advice is related to your style of functioning, work deficiencies, etc , then you should explore the matter by asking clarifications from the person giving unsolicited advice. Listen patiently, without any ego, and with an attitude to learn.
  • Develop your wisdom in such a way that you  are able to assess the genuineness of the advice. In some cases, genuine unsolicited advice stems from a since desire of a person who wants you to explore your potentialities fully. See the body language of the person who is giving   unsolicited advice, and judge the nature of the advice through your eye-contacts.
  •  Judge the merit of the advice by deeply introspecting your work contribution, and assessing your weaknesses, if any. We generally think that we are flawless in our work, and others are inferior.
  • Judge the merit of the advice based on track-record of the person who is giving the advice. Does he have a credible reputation? Has he been the change-maker in the organisation? For how much time do you know the person? What is your comfort level with that person? If the person doesn’t have any reputation, his unsolicited advice should not be taken seriously.

Unsolicited genuine   as well as sincere advice, given to an employee helps build up organizational trust in following ways;
  •       It helps in removing unnecessary ego, and paves the way for genuine dialogue.
  •       It helps in de-bureaucratising organizational structure, and brings in openness.
  •     It helps in building  up trust between two people, which extends beyond organizational boundaries.
  •    It motivates the person who is receiving the advice, to himself seek further advice, which ultimately helps in building up his personality. Over a period of time, he will be  a better performer, and self-reliant to find solutions himself. He will implement the advice in a best spirit.

        Unsolicited advice, if given from a sense of arrogance, or with a  false sense of power s harmful in following ways;
  •   The receiver simply listens to the advice. He becomes a passive listener. He does not implement the advice. He is smart enough to understand that the person giving unsolicited advice is not genuine in intentions. This destroys the trust between two persons.
  •   The receiver feels that the person giving unsolicited advice is forcing his views on other person. This again destroys the chances of emergence of trust in a  natural way.

  I am not an advocate of giving unsolicited advice in organizations. But, tendency to give unsolicited advice  is more related to human psychology, which can  not be curbed. It is a reality in today’s organizations, where tackling relationship management issues have become very complex. My intention through this post is to merely highlight the pros and cons of this issue, so that a clear picture emerges. 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Six Reasons Why Eldeman Trust Barometer Is Important for India

Eldeman Trust Barometer is eagerly awaited every year. As the issues of trust gain importance, this Barometer is indeed a wake-up call for all the institutions in the country to introspect where they are positioned as far as trust level is concerned. I hereby highlight seven reasons why Trust Barometer is important for India;

1] Business has emerged as the most trusted institution in India. This is surprising considering the fact that economy is in dump, and the markets are down. I think the trust in business has gone up simply because feel that business can give them opportunities for self-employment. The  entrepreneurial culture is growing up fast in the country, which is indicator of people’s trust in their abilities to do business. The business can maintain this high level of trust by generating more jobs through community-centric focus, due to paradigm shift in CSR  recently.  It has become mandatory  for businesses to invest in CSR activities. The  trust results also show that people in other countries don’t have trust. in Indian business units situated there. There is a  distinct  dichotomy in trust here, and it will be a big challenges for Indian business houses to win trust abroad. I think the low trust level in other countries is a handicap here , which has  an impact on image of Indian business abroad.

2] NGOs recording a rise in trust level is a welcome development. It shows that peope are  expecting NGO’s to raise the socio-political issues, so that it puts pressure on the government. Anna Hazare  movement presented a unique model of building up trust. This has given rise to more NGOs adopting a pro-active stance in mobilizing opinion on issues of national concern.

3] The trust level in government has come down, which is a worrisome trend.I think the rise in NGOs trust level is playing a major role here, as peoples’ trust in government has come down because NGOs are exposing weaknesses in the government system here. Surprisingly, the rise in trust level of government official/regulator shows that steps for increasing regulation are gaining more legitimacy due to rise in the corruption level. This does not mean that trust level in  general bureaucracy is rising, may be the trust in solely regulatory officials is high. The results show that only 25 % feel that government officials do the right things. This shows growing distrust level in the government. A cloud of suspicion seems to have come up in people’s minds regarding the actions of government officials, and this is a bad signal for governance in the country.

4] The trust in   media has generally  come down. I think the main reason for this is that people are not fully convinced that media has an un-biased approach. The political and business interests of media remain uppermost on people’s mind. However, trust in traditional media remains high, which is a welcome indicator. I think people have a strong emotional bondage with the traditional media. It Is symbolic of India’s rich  cultural heritage in which traditional media has an important role to play. Social media is still evolving, and has yet to find full legitimacy. With growing social media, traditional media faces a big challenge to maintain its high trust level. Much will  depend on its ability to win people’s credibility through a professional approach in highlighting people’s issues, rather than focusing on elite political class.

5] It is good to know that in individual  category,  and experts are trusted most. I think this category thrives on high degree of professionalism, without biases. It also shows that well-educated brains don’t get their minds corrupted by external influences. The companies and organizations must nurture these think-tanks, which will increase their level of trust.

6] I think the Eldeman Trust Barometer must try to involve other institutions in trust survey. The glaring omissions here are police, judiciary, and politicians. These three institutions are the foundations of trust in our country. The nature of trust is fragile for all these institutions. So, including them in annual trust survey results, will be important in assessing the vibrancy of Indian democracy. While trust deficit in case of politicians is increasing, police and judiciary too are quite vulnerable on this front. Trust in police is low because it is considered a part of State machinery. Similarly, the trust level in judiciary’s independence is low, as the courts today have to increasingly interfere in those cases which could have been resolved by the executive and legislature. The trust survey should also include cooperatives, which are democratic-membership based organizations. They have won the trust of the communities in which they are embedded, the success story of Amul is quite notable here. The cooperatives are not merely economic organizations, but also have a social mission, so the trust quotient is high here.       

Saturday, 8 March 2014

See Guest Column on Trust as Foundation of Society; An Economic Perspective

                                               GUEST COLUMN BY
                                               Dr Anshuman,Professor and Head,Economics
                                               Petroleum University,Dehradun

Trust has been the foundation of every society in all civilizations in all times. Whenever there  has been deficit in trust, it has led to catastrophic effects on the people, societies and countries. All wars, riots, civil wars, etc. are the manifestations of the trust- deficit.In a simple society, the daily activities were run on the basis of trust without any modern institution. People used to keep their money with other respected members of the community on the basis of trust without ay legal agreement. Many business activities were held without any written contract.

With  the economic development , many institutions have sprung up to enforce the contracts , which earlier were performed by trust. However, if one attempts to analyze  the cases of breach of contracts in modern time and earlier time , one would find that cases  of breach of contract are   more in modern society than earlier time in absolute term as well as  proportion of total contracts. Its testimony is modern judiciary flooding with cases of breach of contract by one of the parties in the agreement. It proves that the trust has eroded in the society in general.

 Today, every body is interested in his own advancement with no consideration of others. Though the Economics law propounded by Adam Smith also advocates this philosophy, it has its own flaws. Adam Smith suggested that if each member of the society is advancing its own interest, in doing so, he is also advancing the interest of the society as a whole. However, this law has proved wrong time and again. The recent Sub-prime crisis of the US has again manifested this. The mortgage originators, investment bankers and other players involved in the financial sector worked for maximizing their own profits at the cost of society at large. However, the end result has been the enormous cost inflicted not only on the whole US economy but also on the whole world economy. It  eroded again the trust of Americans in its financial sector and of countries in American economy. It has taken many years to restore this trust again in the American financial sector. Still it is not fully restored, which is evident by weak recovery sign in the economy.