Packard: Today’s workplace depends on trust

LOVELAND — The thinking that propelled the industrial revolution to change the world won’t be the same as what changes society and workplaces in this century.

Josh Packard, CEO of the Packard Group LLC and a professor at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, detailed the historical underpinnings of workforce management in a keynote presentation to the 2019 Talent Summit Friday at the Embassy Suites Loveland. How businesses pay attention to the current trends, not the lessons of the past, will determine how successful they will be, he said.

Citing the work of Frederick Taylor, the so-called father of scientific management, Packard noted that all production issues were broken down into functions that could be aligned one after another. In such a system, hiring became the job of finding the individual with the skills for each one of the functions.

In that structure, skills and hierarchy of position within a company brought with them authority.

Josh Packard, CEO of the Packard Group, addresses the 2019 Talent Summit. BizWest/Ken Amundson

That is no longer the case, Packard said.

While Taylor’s system worked well for complicated problems, it doesn’t work well for complex problems, which can be defined as those situations and issues that are unpredictable, perhaps not repeatable and uncertain as to origins and solutions. 

Complex problems are better solved by groups of people interacting, and those situations depend most significantly on trust between individuals and organizations.

“It’s difficult to predict when hiring who will be a very productive employee,” Packard said. “And that’s because we’re thinking about things in the wrong way. We’re using ‘alone tools’ in a ‘together world.’

“It’s not that individuals don’t matter, but group dynamics need to be understood to help our workplaces work better.”

He said society today is “in the middle of a social revolution, a trust revolution.”

Confidence and trust in institutions — all of them whether government or religion or business — is declining, he said. 

Yet trust is essential to commitment to an organization, whether it be the trust of customers or employees. “The more people trust us, the more committed they are to our organization and our cause. We need to be actively combatting the notion that we’re not trustworthy. Trust has to be earned,” he said.

While at one time companies and managers derived their authority from position or expertise, today authority is derived from relationships. “If you don’t understand what your people’s lives are like, they will not listen,” he said.

“People start to believe in your organization when they feel that they belong,” he said. “Belonging precedes believing.”

He cited four tools that can increase conditions that lead to employee engagement.

  • Activity — Where do workers have meaningful roles to play in shaping the organization?
  • Participation — How are your people co-creators, not just consumers of what managers determine?
  • Conversation — Do you learn from your people? Do they learn from you?
  • Community — How are people connected to the organization and each other? 

For companies to succeed in the 21st Century workplace, hiring the right people and securing their trust and loyalty won’t happen on their own. The process needs to be intentional, he said. 

“Someone needs to be responsible for building trust, as part of their job description,” he said.

 

Packard’s presentation was part of the 2019 Talent Summit, presented by the Northern Colorado Prospers program of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce.

 

LOVELAND — The thinking that propelled the industrial revolution to change the world won’t be the same as what changes society and workplaces in this century.

Josh Packard, CEO of the Packard Group LLC and a professor at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, detailed the historical underpinnings of workforce management in a keynote presentation to the 2019 Talent Summit Friday at the Embassy Suites Loveland. How businesses pay attention to the current trends, not the lessons of the past, will determine how successful they will be, he said.

Citing the work of Frederick Taylor, the so-called father of scientific management, Packard noted that all production issues were broken down into functions that could be aligned one after another. In such a system, hiring became the job of finding the individual with the skills for each one of the functions.

In that structure, skills and hierarchy of position within a company brought with them authority.

Josh Packard, CEO of the Packard Group, addresses the 2019 Talent Summit. BizWest/Ken Amundson

That is no longer the case, Packard said.

While Taylor’s system worked well for complicated problems, it doesn’t work well for complex problems, which can be defined as those situations and issues that are unpredictable, perhaps not repeatable and uncertain as to origins and solutions. 

Complex problems are better solved by groups of people interacting, and those situations depend most significantly on trust…