Ila and Charles discuss how we hold others to standards and expectations, sometimes unfairly or without ever speaking them out loud, and the assumptions we make about others when they don’t behave as we believe they should.
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Charles: Hi, I'm Charles Feldman
Ila: And my name, Ila, Edgar, and we are here for
Charles: trust on purpose. Today, we're gonna talk about, something that actually really, has a. Big impact on trust in the workplace, especially, but everywhere else in our lives. And it's something that people don't think about very often having a connection to trust. El, I'm gonna hand it over to you to set us up here.
Ila: Thank you Charles. recently I had a revisit of the trust framework with a group that I've been working. and we decided to do a deeper dive on this whole concept of competence and standards. And it was just so interesting when Charles and I hopped on for the conversation before the recording, which we always do.
Ila: It was really. Really incredible. How, the more that we started to talk about this, the more places that this phenomenon or this potential breakdown shows up. So one of the things that was shared during this conversation was that, well, it depends on who's asking me and what mood I might be in as to what the standard might.
Ila: and in that moment, although I kept my visual composure on the inside, I was doing a little bit of like WTF. Can you imagine as a leader that your direct reports or the people that you work with don't know how you're going to define standards or I'll add the word in here expectations because it may be based on your mood. or the person asking. So I wanna pause right there and just hear your immediate comments, Charles.
Charles: I think I actually had a boss like that once and, What makes me say that if you were to walk into a room, with, all of that particular boss's direct reports and he was not there yet, and you could just sit there and listen to us and watch us, we would be saying things like, okay, what kind of a mood is he in today?
Charles: I wonder what he's going to, how that's gonna affect our conversation. how are we gonna try and get this across to him? And so, it, makes life as, the direct report of a boss who has that way of being really difficult. It's a huge breakdown for employees and it takes up a lot of, emotional and intellectual cycle time.
Charles: Just trying to figure it out day to day and even sometimes hour to hour. so that's my first thought is that's really hard. Thankfully, there are not too many people that I know of, out there who operate like that? Most people have standards. The problem with standards is that the other people don't know what they are exactly.
Charles: those standards haven't been shared. they haven't been agreed on. the boss has. Standards, but we're not really sure what they are that's also difficult, but I can't even imagine. Well, I can't imagine life was really crazy on the team that I'm referred to as in this particular situation.
Ila: The other thing that comes, up for me, as you say that is breakdowns that happen when different teams come together, or I know there's a few organizations that I'm working with that have merged. And so these organizations have their own set of standards and these teams, what I've observed is they all wanna do really good.
Ila: They wanna figure out how to collaborate. they wanna figure out how do we navigate this bump? It's a pretty big bump and I'm not even sure that it's on their radar until they bump into a standard and realize, oh, you guys do it that way. We do it this way. How do we figure out how to combine or share a standard so that we're all support. and I think I've seen this probably more often than not Yes.
Ila: especially, a couple of the clients that I'm working with, mammoth organizations that have years and years, and years and years of legacy and systems and procedures. And now these organizations are trying to come together.
Ila: So you can only imagine how many standards people are bumping into that they didn't even know were.
Charles: yes. And that first time they bump into some standard that they didn't know was there or that they weren't sharing because there were, like you said they're coming from two different backgrounds. That's one, but there are many more. And so, Able to think about that and take on, okay.
Charles: Let's, talk about some others because there must be more out there, but often that doesn't happen. It's just, this is a one off situation. Oh, okay. We gotta figure this out. Then they go on and they bump into the next one. And so on rather than being proactive and sitting down with each other and saying, okay, let's go through some standards about how this
Charles: stuff is
Charles: The other thing though, that I have found many times even going back to when I was, working in organizations, is that, you may start laying out standards and then people will start arguing about, why this standard is the best one or the right one. it's good in that they get to work through that, but it can be really contentious sometimes, in terms of how people.
Charles: okay. This is my position around my standard. I'm a flag bearer for this standard because it's worked for us really well for X years, or months or whatever. and that even applies when some new person comes into a team. New, leader particularly comes into a team and the team has been doing, X, Y, Z in a certain way.
Charles: And the new leader assumes that this team. Do things that the way the new leader is used to and so there again, it's a huge
Ila: It's a huge breakdown. I have a tiny example of that one, actually, a had a norm or an unspoken standard in the organization. you go into a meeting. Absolutely. You can take your laptop and you can be doing other work while you're in the meeting organization, B different standard leader from a went to organization, B took her laptop into a meeting.
Ila: Opened it up and started, some other work. It was like sacri, what she had done. They had said like, what do you think you're. Like shut your laptop down. So there was also a huge judgment, I would say there was probably an impact of shame. But she bumped into a standard. She had no idea was there.
Ila: And how could you,
Ila: how could, you know,
Ila: you don't
Charles: Yeah. You couldn't know unless there's a conversation beforehand and you really try and go through and sort out what all the different stands. You still probably miss some, but, you probably would find the big ones. but how do you even start that convers?
Ila: How do you start that conversation? And for us in this group that I was working with, it started with the conversation of, have you ever worked for, or with someone who you thought wasn't competent? To do their job.
Charles: Ooh, I think I know where that question
Ila: you, you do it's page 47 of your book.
Charles: so how did that go from there? What happened from that point?
Ila: Well, it was fascinating. at that point, I had them go into smaller group conversation, then come back and debrief. So have you ever recently, or other point in your, experience had the assessment that someone else wasn't competent and what did that produce? What happened in the relationship? And so one of them brought up his kid.
Ila: Yeah. is absolutely not competent with a whole boatload of things. I'm having trouble with X, X, and X. Others were like, you know, well, technically a competent person in the knowledge and expertise of their role, but then they got promoted and they were horrible leaders.
Ila: So no, technically they were competent, but as a leader, no, I thought they. Absolutely incompetent. So it was interesting to hear all of the different examples of how they had bumped into this assessment in their life.
Charles: Yes, actually, that probably is one of the most common, situations where people bump into standards something is completely transparent to them. They, don't even know like fish and water. they don't even imagine or think about it when they get promoted from being an individual contributor really competent in some area of expertise suddenly now, They're a manager, a leader, and.
Charles: They don't recognize that that's a different area of expertise requiring different competencies and suddenly they're, in over their heads people are judging them as incompetent as a leader, as a manager their response to that is like mine probably would be, is okay. I'm just gonna go into my cubicle or my office and put my head down and start doing.
Charles: Coding or I'm gonna go I'm not gonna even try to be a leader. I'm just gonna go do what I know how to do because this leadership stuff is really hard and people are judging me negatively. And I hate that.
Charles: And so it's kind of hard to get out of that place and people aren't warned people aren't told, Hey, gonna be promoted into a position where you'll have a different set of competencies to execute against and embody and learn to a great
Charles: because people don't get taught
Ila: right. And that that's absolutely normal. None of us knows everything about everything, nor should we, so you're coming into a new role. here's the skills, education, experience, knowledge, resources that you have, and here's where we're gonna put a training plan in place or development plan in place.
Ila: We know that there's not a deficit, but a skill gap, so, okay. How do we do that? And how do we navigate that? I think where the conversation got even juicier was when we went to the next question in what were the standards that you actually used to assess the competence or in competence?
Charles: Hmm. So what happened? what came up.
Ila: immediately people realized. oh, oh, I have my own set of standards. And maybe perhaps in this moment, I'm realizing that they're not the only standards that something else might be out there and aren't ether and there's a gap or let's, pull in, you know, the thoughts and stories that we hear from some of our lovely clients and their struggle with perfection.
Ila: So you can imagine that their internal standards are ridiculously high and are they holding other people to the same standards? And is that fair? Is that transparent?
Charles: Of course they're holding other people to their same standards. Is it fair? Is a different question, to them. Yes, of course. It's fair because those are the right standards.
Charles: the only set of standards to have,
Ila: Do you remember that if you're not gonna do it right, don't do it at all.
Charles: yeah. I remember talking to a, an individual and a team. I was coaching once and he said, you know, I have to do it all myself because nobody else on the team, can do it. Right. So this individual was just killing himself. Trying to make sure everything got done right to his standards and very resentful, and angry at the rest of the team, very distrusting of the rest of the team and the rest of the team.
Charles: Didn't trust him either. because they thought they saw him as, not a team player, not interested in being part of the team, being autocratic, there's probably a couple other words that they used, but, in any case they didn't trust. And so there was a setup for failure all around because they hadn't really talked about standards other than him just taking other people's work away and doing it.
Ila: which is so demotivating, so frustrating. So what do you mean? Like what just happened? Sometimes people are just completely blindsided. There's a, client I worked with a few years ago and I remember he was very adamant about our younger generation. They don't know how to do anything, right.
Ila: well, okay. what does right actually mean? and let's pull Brene brown in again, right. Clear is kind unclear is unkind. And have you been clear in laying out what's expected or what the standards are assessing, where they are and helping them learn and grow and very easily it's dismissive because well, they should know better.
Ila: And then there's that tricky
Ila: word, right? Should they, but should
Charles: yeah. so that kind of comes to the question where does one come up with one standard? And typically we learn our standards from the people we work with, the people around us. Maybe we come in with them, from our families, depending on what kind of standards we're talking about. We come in with them, from our families, from our communities.
Charles: we come to work, we bump up into places where we have to learn new standards, but then we get pretty ingrained with them. You know, we get pretty attached to our standards and then. It's really hard to recognize that there are any other standards out there. And of course I'm gonna do it this way. my wife and I have this running joke, I don't think it's really a joke for her that much, but so, you know, I'll be washing, the dishes and I'll be done and I'll leave the kitchen and she'll come back and go the countertops aren't clean. She has a particular standard for what a clean countertop looks like. That is different from mine. we've talked about it enough that we can laugh about it now, but, yeah, It's as simple as that, sometimes it's, what's a complete report. what does done look like when we're making a request?
Charles: which again, going back to bene brown, paint me a picture of done. What does it look like? What are my standards or my conditions of satisfaction are in a sense, not, a very direct sense, a statement of what my standard is for what I'm looking for when I make a request. That's one place where people can begin to share standards and open up.
Charles: But as we've been talking about, there are many, many other places when teams are working together. When a boss is, starting to work with a new, direct report or vice versa. I know we've talked about this in other, sessions, how, often I'll ask when I'm working with somebody, either a boss who has a new direct report or vice versa.
Charles: Okay. what are your standards around communication? For example, just a simple thing. How do you want to be communicated to what format? What kinds of things do you want to get communication about and not want to get communication about?
Charles: when I, first, hired a new executive director on the museum, I. Then the president of the board of art museum here in, one of our first meetings, I said, let's establish a standard around communication. you know what, email for just general sharing information, a text for this is something that's kind of important. And a phone call for the building is on fire and it was pretty clear.
Charles: And so I'm always recommending. when you start working with somebody new, whether it's a, peer that you're gonna be collaborating with a boss, a direct report, establish how, when and in what format you want to communicate with each other that alone is a set of standards that so often. I don't know how often I've talked. someone has said, well, I emailed her. Okay. But she gets, a hundred emails an hour. How do you know that she got that? This was really important. Right? Do you have any agreement with her around how that's gonna be. I was speaking with a dare to lead participant just a couple of weeks ago, and he was really frustrated with one of his direct reports kept leaving five or 10 minutes early, every. and he was really pissed off, like really pissed off and he couldn't understand why he was so upset about this.
Ila: And so I know him, I mean, we went through dare to lead, so we've done a whole bunch of work together. I'm like, I think that I also remember you have a value around justice and fairness. And so is that also bumping into something that may not be a clear standard? So does this person know that the standard is we work till four 30, unless you tell me otherwise.
Ila: And I've agreed So the communication piece is missing, but he couldn't get over. Like this shouldn't be a big deal and I'm losing sleep over this.
Charles: Well, yeah, but what you've said there, I think is. Interesting and, worth pointing out. Sometimes our standards are linked to deeply held values and when they are, those are the standards that we're gonna clinging to really tightly. We're not gonna wanna let go of, so that our reactions.
Charles: To when having those standards, broken by other people is over the top, why is this reaction so big? Why is this person so angry with me? All I did was
Charles: X. you take a look under the hood, they have a standard. First of all, that you didn't know you were, breaking, or living up to or whatever. Number two, that standard is connected with a deeply held value that that person has around in your person's case fairness, but often other kinds of values as well. yeah, standards play a huge role and of course, trust begins to erode when people are not upholding or living by, Standard, I begin to distrust someone who is not living up to the standards that I think they should be, even though we haven't had a conversation about it.
Charles: And, come to some idea of what our shared standards are.
Ila: Great. And as that happens again, And again, and these don't have to be huge standard breakdowns. They can be these small little nuanced things, you know, a five minute here, communication, Misha here, but these things that continually happen and that they're not taken care of, continues to grow the distrust and the gap in the relationship, which impacts the ability to get work.
Charles: Yes. Very much so. And it's funny. we don't think about it. Most people don't think about that at all. we just plow ahead. We make assumptions. We assume we share standards, or we assume that if we don't share standards, the other person will figure out that I'm doing it the right way and they're doing it the wrong way and come around, start doing it the right way.
Charles: I've never of course done
Ila: never. never. I'm like. Dying laughing on the inside about, oh yeah. There's probably some conversations I need to have that I haven't had. I have some assessments about some people in my life that maybe they're being held to standards that aren't fair or transparent or Clear.
Charles: fairness is really not so much the issue as, clarity do we know what those standards are? Did the other person know what those standards are? so even I've actually proposed to clients in the past to do a kind of standards, audit.
Charles: What are your standards? What are all the standards you have about different things? You do, in your work environment and, it became a real eyeopener for one person I'm particularly thinking of, but I've done that with a couple of other people as well. real eye openers, oh, wow.
Charles: I didn't realize that I had a standard around that, but yes, I can see why and how, and worthwhile.
Ila: that's really fascinating. And I almost feel like
Ila: as a person, as an individual, as a coach, You know, I own my own business. I have all sorts of relationships as we all do. I'm a mother, I'm a sister, I'm a daughter. I'm an aunt. I'm a friend. I'm a, all of these things, almost a self assessment to check what are my own standards. That would be a really interesting exercise.
Charles: It is. I started it too, since I figured I, wouldn't propose something to a client that, I wasn't willing to do myself. And, I'm sure there are a lot of standards. I missed and areas of standards that I missed, but I realized that there are some standards around being a father, for example, that I was imposing on my son, that he hadn't agreed to. there were some standards that I was holding my wife to, that she was not aware of certainly standards that I was holding, friends to and colleagues and clients. sometimes clients. Mismas and standards have caused some Rocky client relationships. so, it was worth my, while I didn't do a total lot.
Charles: I didn't spend a whole lot of time at, but I spent a good, probably three hours off and on over, a couple of days doing that and realized, yeah, here's some places where I need to clean up my act, either share my standard with somebody or recognize that my standard is just my standard and somebody else might have a different one.
Charles: and just be aware of that and watch for it. That kind of.
Ila: I think that's in an incredibly valuable exercise as an individual, I can see how incredibly impactful that would be for a.
Charles: For a team it's big. It's really big. it's right up there really with what are our, team agreements that I ask teams make with each other, in a sense, that's the same thing. the agreements we make with each other as a team members are around how we're gonna treat each other, how we're gonna show up, what we're gonna do when certain things happen.
Charles: those become standards in a sense. but there are also other standards that are not talked about in that process that, come up that people on the team are living by. Independently of each other and only by talking about them, bringing out, sharing them, will they be able to, share them and agree on, well, okay, what are we gonna do?
Charles: What is our standard gonna be? And then once they've done that, then they've, removed a huge, maybe bunch of barriers to getting good work done well and fast
Charles: Cuz those conversations inevitably strengthen trust.
Ila: Well you mean staying in my own head and my own stories and my own assessments. And holding like all of these lofty things over other people,
Charles: I've been there.
Ila: all of my shoulds coulds. Oh my gosh. like I'm laughing in the moment. Of course. and seeing that our, common humanity causes a lot of these bumps for ourselves, but how incredibly powerful it is to go, oh, okay, Charles, you and I have just bumped into a standard.
Ila: I didn't know we had different standards. Let's have a conversation about this. How do we wanna take care of it? What do we wanna declare from here? And that that's a really important conversation for people that wanna collaborate, build strong.
Ila: never cover all of the standards. Can there also be an agreement that when we bump into one that we go, oh, that
Charles: I think we found another one. Let's talk about it. I think that that's really valuable for teams for leaders and the people who work for them. for just about everybody in a, a work relationship, family relationship, you name it. I've worked with, a church once a church board. That, had very much the same issue, but they, interestingly thought because they were a church board that they shouldn't have disagreements and they shouldn't have, all of them had a story that they shouldn't have. Problems like differing standards because, well, they were a church so it took a while for them to just acknowledge that.
Charles: Yes, they did have different standards and, needed to talk about it, bring 'em out. So yes, I, I love this conversation. I love this topic because. One of those places where we don't even think about it until like you began with, we bump into
Charles: them unless we choose to talk about it before we bump into them.
Ila: can I read these three questions out one more time as an invitation to our listen. To do some self-reflection and potentially go have conversations with your teams. If you're a leader, if you're a team member and you just wanna initiate, what are the standards that you're using in this case to assess competence?
Ila: Where did those standards come from and are they, or were they the appropriate standards to use? already, even in my own mind, I'm like, oh gosh, I forgot about that one. Or, oh, I wanna go think about that one. So my hope, and I think that it will is that this will invite some curiosity for people as you start to navigate the rest of your day relationships in your personal professional life, and start to notice where there are standards that you have and are those helping.
Ila: are you bumping into other people? How can you close the gap and become more aligned in the standards?
Charles: Yes. Thank you. and I will also say that in the book where you were reading those questions from, I'm talking about standards around competence, but we also have standards around. Care is trust in the domain of care. What are our standards for that trust in the domain of sincerity?
Charles: What are our standards for that? Even reliability? What are our standards for reliability? the standards questions are equally valid in all four domains of building trust and in many other places in our work lives and in our personal lives. So thank you for bringing this particular subject in today.
Charles: I've really enjoyed this conversation and I think just wanna end by. talk about it. think about it for yourself. Talk about it with others. bring in those questions and find a way to get to common standards or at least acknowledge that you have different standards and what you're gonna do about that.
Ila: Excellent. Excellent.
Ila: Thank you for a wonderful conversation, Charles.
Charles: You're very welcome. Thank you.
Charles: If any of you out there listening, have an issue or concern that you would like us to address that has anything to do with trust, particularly trust at work, but other areas of your life as well.
Charles: We'd love to hear from you. That'd be Charles at insight, coaching.com or.
Ila: El email@example.com. See you next time.