Why it pays to believe in your people

Think back to your school days. Who was your favourite teacher? Why? I remember my favourite teachers as those who saw me as an individual, who recognised something special about me, and who believed in me.

Now think about your work history. Who were the best bosses? One boss stands out in my memory for many reasons, but mostly for her belief in my ability and my judgment.

That belief was backed up in practice and that made her a stand-out leader. One conversation changed my view of successful workplaces and I still recall it clearly, even though it was 14 years ago.

I was an economic policy analyst negotiating a new policy position. I had done my research, engaged the experts, spoken to all interested parties and in my mind there was a clear way forward. Yet people from other agencies were sweating the small stuff, clinging to self-interest and keeping their silo view.  I was frustrated that common sense was not prevailing. What did my boss advise?

“Pick your fights….” OK, I was ready to fight on this one.

“….and I will back you up.” Now, that stopped me in my tracks and really made me consider the importance of the issue. My boss trusted me and would put her reputation on the line to fight in my corner. She had my back. She gave me permission to succeed but also permission to fail. But her belief in me and in my judgment meant I was far less likely to fail.

The 2015 Deloitte Millennial survey shows that the next generation of workers is looking for an employer that has well-being and growth and development as top priorities. Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global says: “The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, today’s Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and its contribution to society as they are in its products and profits.”

So how did I respond to the belief my boss placed in me? I grew. I learnt. I was a loyal, focused, driven employee. I was not going to abuse that trust. Our staff is looking for that opportunity to learn and grow.

Believe in people and your organisation will attract the type of workers that will repay you in spades.

Vicky Darling


Posted in Leadership, Organisational culture.