Contributor / Grover Wray
Human Resources,Mergers and Acquisitions,Reputation Management,Social Psychology
As a Chief Human Resource Officer, trust is fundamental to being able to ensure that employees are engaged, they are motivated by what they do and they can contribute a degree of value back to the organization, and in return the organization gives them a degree of value. And when that equation of value that the person gives to the organization is equal to the value that the organization is giving to them, then you have trust. That’s what trust is built on. And so as a Chief Human Resource Officer it’s absolutely critical to ensure that you are effectively building mental maps for all of your team members starting with those who come into the organization on day one.
Essentially a mental map is an ability for somebody to be able to anticipate and to expect what might happen. An example, a simple example would be driving to and from work. If we drive to and from work every day the same way, very soon we have a route. We don’t think about what we’re doing; we just start to drive and the next thing you know you’ve arrived at your destination and you find that you arrived without even giving a thought to how you got there.
BUMPER: Understanding Trust through Mental Maps
When I was first introduced to this idea of mental maps it was through the work that I was doing with Arthur Anderson. I got a phone call one day from a partner who said, “We are thinking about outsourcing this accounting function and I was visiting with the CEO of this company and he said you’ve put a lot of effort and time into making sure that the technical transition of this work goes smoothly. But if you’re going to be in this business full-time you better put as much attention to how you manage the people as you do the technical transition.”
I ended up visiting with the CEO and ended up visiting with all of the team members and that’s when the light bulb went on for me. It was the CEO who understood the dynamic of what was happening to his team members who had an expectation, a trust, and this trust was a very significant trust because it was in a small town. It was a few team members.
And it was at that moment that I realized that these employees could not go through a transition like this without understanding the expectations of what a new company was going to provide to them. And it was then that I realized the power of that mental map and applied that in every situation that we encountered after that, and in every situation almost to a T that process or principle worked very well, because you were addressing exactly what the issues were and the uncertainty that gets created when a mental map gets destroyed.
BUMPER: 5 Steps to Building Trust During Mergers
I realized that principle of a mental map was exactly what was needed inside a merger and acquisition or significant change situation. An employee was in an uncertain moment when all of a sudden the mental map that they had built about themselves and from the company was now gone. The trust that the organization had placed in them and they had placed in the organization was now gone. And without replacing that trust with a new map that would build new trust you would never gain the emotional commitment of the team members.
As a leader, the first thing you have to understand is the very first question that somebody has to have answered for them before you can provide any more information to them is: Do I have a job?
The next layer of that foundation is: What are my salary and benefits?
If that question is answered then the third question in that layer of questions becomes: Who is my manager?
And then the fourth question in that layer is: What is my team or who is my team? Who will I be interacting with?
And then the fifth layer, which is the most important layer, but it’s the last layer – (which is somewhat counterintuitive) is the culture. What is the culture of the organization like? What are the values of the organization? If you start with culture, which sometimes we might tend to do because we want that to be seen as a very positive thing, that’s good but I still don’t know whether I have a job. And so it’s not going to resonate with me until you answer those other foundational questions.
Follow that pattern through, and each of those pieces of the pattern put another piece into the mental map until you have sufficiently formed a mental map for that individual as they move into a new environment.