On this episode of the Virtual Frontier, we’re joined by Dirk Staudt. Dirk is a speaker, author and the founder of WandelWerk.

Trust is a key factor in every relationship. Especially in the professional environment trust is often undervalued. In this podcast, we discuss with Dirk how trust is built, the importance of transparency and why trust is the “new” control mechanism in teams.

Manuel is making a point, why project success can not be based on blind trust, and what tools and techniques can be implemented to establish a trustful environment in your team.

You can read more from Dirk on his website.

Listen to the episode below:

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CHRIS REEVES

Hello and welcome to the virtual frontier, the podcast about virtual teams created by virtual team. I’m Chris and I’m part of the team here at flash. On today’s episode, we’re joined by Dirk Staudt out. Dirk is a speaker, author, and the founder Wandelwerk. Dirk, Manuel and Johanna had an awesome conversation about trust within your team. So here is Episode 10 of the virtual frontier featuring our guest, Dirk Staudt, stop. Take it away, Johanna

JOHANNA ANTHES

Hello, everybody. I’m Johanna and I’m the guest speaker in today’s virtual frontier podcast. I’m happy to sit here with Manuel Pistner , the founder of Flash Hub , and also to welcome Dirk Staudt. Dirk, would you just tell something about yourself?

DIRK STAUDT

Yeahh gladly, thank you for the invitation. This is very nice to have a podcast with you. The Dirk Staudt, I’m well two thirds of my life at the self employed in building a companies in the IT business, and the other third of in working in large and medium sized companies in Europe. And another experience I made I made education three and a half years education as family therapist, which added very good up to some coaching mixture, which I used to today for my projects.

JOHANNA ANTHES

You mentioned that you were working as a family therapist, and I think that’s a good point to just step in with our topic today. Because our today’s topic is trust. And more precisely, in this case is trust in teams with a focus on remote working teams. So I would say let’s start right away with the first question I would like to ask you both. How do you build trust in a team in general at all?

MANUEL PISTNER

So from my perspective, and my experience building trust in a team is Provided by transparency and by continuous results from my experience, it’s not a good practice to just trust in people without ever seeing their results. And without ever knowing what they reached in the past, that does not necessarily mean that you should control the activity of each and every one. But you should heavily based on KPIs or OKRs. So that you can track performance continuously. And based on these results, you can build personal trust and personal relationships.

DIRK STAUDT

Yeah, and just just add that in my view that trust is the the base line of every tribe, and every social group or community you build up. So in my experience, trust is something that doesn’t fall from the sky. Of course it evolves with the time but it’s the baseline which you have to start with. So easily I should think that that you start to trust beforehand and trust wears down and The other way around. So distrust trust as a base of team working is, in my experience, not a good starting point.

MANUEL PISTNER

But I think it also depends on how you define trust and in which part you need trust. I would say that you should never use trust as a base for your project success. But what I agree is that whenever you start working with a person, of course, you give them some trust in the very beginning. But what you should not do is then only stay with trust, you should measure the performance continuously. But in the beginning, they’re is trust Is this what you also mean?

DIRK STAUDT

I would agree on that because you cannot work on a vision or a project together if you don’t have any means of control or checking what is happening, what provides everybody especially in teams, which are distributed all over the world. So you need some sort of performance control. I agree on that. But there is a are are two sides, you have to have the instruments for the control. And the other side is that the new control is trust. Meaning that if I’m in a trusted environment, I would probably think that it’s very good to to help you Manuel to see where I’m working at. So it turns the view the other side around. Not the, the control pushes me to report and help, but my trust is needed that you can work. So if I have this position, it turns the well, the way the information flows a bit around.

MANUEL PISTNER

Yeah, then then the perspective is that we set objectives for people and trust them that they reach these objectives. And the trust is limited to a period of like a sprint, for example, and then we measure results, but in the very beginning, there is trust so that I can even start working and I don’t need to be afraid that you always tell me what I should do. And I can’t fold my full potential.

DIRK STAUDT

I would agree on that. Yes, there is a part of control you need. And you need to have a frame in which you work because if you have a company, and you might develop chairs, it doesn’t make sense not to have teams that are not concerned with developing good chairs. So my, of course, I have to trust in the teams that build up the chairs, but the goal is the chair and nothing else. So this is not about trust. It’s about my vision as a company and it’s about the vision of the task of the specific team. But within the team, Who’s designing the legs of the chairs or what what fabric we use, there is a liberty which is accepting errors of employers, accepting that everybody has ideas and can put these ideas into working. So this is a more networking idea, but overall the company’s the frame. There is no use to discuss that.

MANUEL PISTNER

And yeah, I absolutely agree on that. And I think that accepting failure This is very important because only one Failure an organization and the teams as well, they can learn. If you punish failure, then people will never try new things. And that’s why the whole organization of the team will not be able to learn. So this is certain amount of trust. I am just wondering, trust is a very huge topic. And it’s a big, pillared word for most people, if we can define it more precisely. So there’s a formula of trust. Did you ever hear about that? No, it is. So everyone that didn’t read about the formula of trust, just type it into Google. And you can read many things about it. But it’s, it’s based on transparency. It’s based on personal interest, and it’s based on how often you have proven that you can deliver certain results that I expect from you when I give you my trust. So this is pretty much the formula, how trust is build. And what is also from my experience when working with teams, local teams, but virtual teams in particular is that you have expert reviews. This is a system that helps to share experience on the one side and to help people learning faster by reflecting their results from another expert, would you agree on that? Or do you think that’s too much control?

DIRK STAUDT

Now, learning is a two sided way or more, more two more sided way. So you need to have reflects and we have feedbacks and one to ones or whatever system you like to choose which is appropriate for the system or the team, you have them which is, might be very individual, Since we both I guess, agree that it’s a lifelong learning period, we start now this is the century of lifelong learning. So you have to have a lifelong mirroring of your tasks and what you do and what you experience. So it’s the only path to grow and to to get become better. So it might involve that you have a certain skill which is not developed in when you started in it and you grow the skill and you change the way you can provide input for the team so. There has to be room that you are not focused on a role but on the skill you deliver into the team. And that’s that’s the main thing. So I trust in people’s learning I trust in that they want to provide something I’m intrinsic motivation I trust into that every human being is socializing with teams with their tribes, and this is the most important thing, control might or very narrow path might as well kill this in motivation.

MANUEL PISTNER

But that requires that every role is defined by a purpose and that requires that the whole organization has a purpose. What do you think how, how many organizations can really fulfill this requirement of giving a purpose to their teams?

DIRK STAUDT

I think it’s, it’s a bit like we talked about before and you have tasks you the chairs of tables or whatever or computers or So the the frame for the vision of a company and what they do to reach the vision is one part. So if I if I’m employed in a company and not in a network where I’m a freelance, I’m if I’m in a company, then I’m accepting being part of the vision. So in that I’m already in a frame. So, I cannot easily leave this frame and in that the purpose of what I can deliver or what I am is the changing learning thing its life. So, in my experience, a leader or somebody who has the task to set up teams, whatever the leadingship in the company is, has to have a good feeling empathy, feeling about how to put together these teams and how to make them on the some bigger than the than the parts and then the about the purpose of the and the skills and not about the role. Because you have certain specific abilities. I do have some specific, and this might change over the time. And it has changed eventually, over the years, in the past years, you have developed new skills. So if you would have had to stay in the role you had in the beginning, all your adventures wouldn’t have come to life.

Manuel Pistner

Absolutely. And then I was still a programmer. And if I would not have learned I would be a very poor programmer. Okay, yeah. Thank you very much.

JOHANNA ANTHES

Yes, I would like to get into some details because we were talking about control. So because for some people, trust automatically implies a lack of control and you already talked about it right now. I just want to get into more details. So when should you put transparency and control over trust?

DIRK STAUDT

I was a bit wondering about how you put a transparency and control is something different than mine. it contradicts a bit because transparency is needed so that everybody has the chance to decide correctly on the base of facts that are offered. So in transparency is not control or non control. So transparency is the means to enable people to do the right thing. And this is something I always would agree upon, that everything should be transparent to the employee, so he have might the chance to decide correctly, even if he’s able to interpret the information, that’s another take. Control is something else control is the needs of the team to know what is going on. what’s what’s moving the project forward, and what what steps we go, because obviously, we have dependencies between the different tasks in the project. So if one part doesn’t fulfill its task, the project doesn’t go on. So we need a frame and in the frame is some sort of control. Yes, it’s a softer usually, but you have to type in medically, I have done this, I finished that and I’ve done this. This is not a control. It’s an important thing to keep the project moving. It’s so I wouldn’t say it’s control. But it’s definitely a needed report.

MANUEL PISTNER

I think there is a difference between having control over the team I mean over the over each body of the team members and having control over the direction that we are moving forward. So what you said is that we need transparency, which gives me the frame and the border for for measuring my current velocity and if I’m moving into the right direction, but what is meant as control, I think in most organizations is that managers control people. And if this is the mindset if you go to organizations and make everything transparent, I think most people will be afraid as then they will be much more controllable. And this is the main problem today. You can’t make everything transparent because people are afraid that they will have more pressure by more control of their managers instead of removing the managers and make everything transparent and let team decide if they are on the right track.

DIRK STAUDT

It’s a difficult progress for traditional company to make these steps are very much agree on that because you have to change actually complete mindset. Control in the earnest way in the traditional way of Frederick Winslow Taylor which basically says that management things and everybody else is stupidly repeating moves and doing nothing intelligent is all done we cannot go on like this on the control level in companies currently in our hirarchic company is based on intransparency. People who are in the leader above you. simply hoard information so that you are not able to decide for yourself. And this goes up and up and up and up. So everybody is in a very insecure situation about decisions. You never know what is going to go on with your way because out of nowhere, that could have been something that you haven’t seen coming before. So Transparency is one side the control of people is on it is anyways it’s it’s misdirection of possibilities. It’s, it’s the worst thing you can do because you drown the people in in the frames where they cannot grow. And this is what you want actually, you want innovation, we want the motivation of the people so that good things can come to the customers and godd things can come to the product. And you can only make them if the people motivated. And if you don’t let them and control them, like you have to stay on your desk from eight to nine at five or something like that. It’s hilarious because it drains the motivations. So control is something different to my experience or my my definition to something that I have to report to make the project go.

MANUEL PISTNER

Now if there was full transparency, you don’t even need to report you just need to help people understand what’s going on based on the facts that they can see and then help them to make proper decisions.

DIRK STAUDT

Well, full transparency needs Data

MANUEL PISTNER

Yes,

DIRK STAUDT

So, somebody has to put in the data. So for the project, somebody has to put and you have to define which data you need, so that the transparency flows back. So you need a system of information flow of communication, which is based on reliable to everybody and responsible, everybody has to fill it its the deedyou have to do. So that transparency made may take place in the first time.

MANUEL PISTNER

Yeah, so what I think what is our common agreement is that we need a process that helps people to work in a certain rhythm where they can contribute their best knowledge and experience so that the contribution of each and everyone in the team is more than there are some altogether. So, this is this is one thing, and then we need, we need tools that guides those people so that they don’t have to struggle with administrative stuff in the project.

DIRK STAUDT

I would agree

MANUEL PISTNER

And then you have transparency, you have a process that helps them to bring their contribution together. Then they can make proper decision based on the facts that they see. What do you say about that? Johanna?

JOHANNA ANTHES

I absolutely agree on that. And I’m just thinking about Manuel. Since you did, yeah, a total turn last year with your team. With that foundation. I would like to know, what do companies that are used to working with local teams? What do they have to change to build trust within virtual teams? For example, you mentioned these tools. I would like to know more about this.

MANUEL PISTNER

Yeah, as we discussed before, I think the radical change or the pivot last year was that we made simply everything fully transparent. What I experienced before we had this culture is that I always need to tell people what they should do, and my time is very limited and when you grow from like five people to 20 to 40, and I’m the one that tells everyone what they should do. On the one side, they don’t like it. And on the other side, I always have to tell them otherwise nothing happens. So this is the one thing. And then I experienced that, especially in the IT industry, everyone wants to earn a good salary this should grow every every year. And the salaries in the IT industry are highly competitive. I want to give our people our staff the opportunity to, yeah, get the money that they really earn. But to be able to do what is needed to earn money, they need to understand the business model each and every one. And it’s not so complicated. So the only thing that is required is to have a proper accounting and controlling system not controlling over people but controlling over finance and accounting in place, and then help and coach and teach people so they can understand what’s going on and then make the right decisions to contribute to their vision and to the vision of the organization. What I experienced was very critical for that is that we have a common interest between me as a shareholder of the organization, between the employees of the organization and the customers. If they all have a common interest and these interests align with each other, at least, yeah, then it’s much easier to let people make proper decisions because they have a purpose. And they have transparency to see if what they are doing is the right thing. And this is something that if I would consult companies, I would ask them to go into this direction. But yeah, it’s very hard for corporates to change, or what do you think about that?

DIRK STAUDT

Yeah. I’m really looking forward to to learn more about the organizations. I heard a bit about your’s, and I really was impressed of what you did. And since I’m working with larger companies in parts and discussing the situation, how they could change this way, it’s usually about the intransparency. It’s the baseline. If you open up the decision making process, you will eventually learn that the people you have before and took on the control and intransparency suddenly blew up and they’re doing the decisions which were the right ones for the company. And the win win situation is there that they the guy, the leader, or whomever, doesn’t have to do all by himself suddenly. And any company I’ve been a no of reading books about or I’ve been interviewing of the shareholder or CEO whatever. The first thing they usually say that they have empty desks now, suddenly. It took some It was a process of two or three years, but suddenly they they turn back again to what they started with. They were people who have ideas and fantasies, but they built up an organization and couldn’t Furthermore, Dream. These these dreams that made the company before and they are drowned in organizational and control work. So They find their way back in a way and the employers suddenly feel that they can contribute much more and much more motivation to the whole. And everybody’s winning in that. And that’s the the wonderful thing that can happen if you go that path and the first step would be transparency to make decisions. Yeah, I should agree. Yes.

MANUEL PISTNER

Yeah. And now we come back to the to the topic trust when I remember my first presentation to the team when I made everything open. I was the first one who put up my trousers, I first told them, what I earn. I first told them what the company earns or what it should earn in the future and what my financial expectations are, I told them, what is my value that I can contribute to the organization and to each individual in the organization? And then they had a choice to either commit to myself or fire me because they have to pay my bill. They have to pay they earn the money, they do the projects using virtual teams and they yet simply pay my bill. And if I don’t contribute any value to them, they will simply say sorry, Manuel, but I don’t like what you are doing or what you can give me I can get from somebody else much cheaper, much faster. Sorry, I don’t want to pay you anymore. And then I will be out and this is what is the first step, a huge trust. But in the second step, it’s a control mechanism for the company. Because with that mechanism, everything that does not provide value is eliminated.

DIRK STAUDT

And even more so it’s a social situation. It’s not a controlling base situation finding out who’s providing value. It’s self control, some critics on the systems in the past or even today is that you are instead of setting up a control system, you set up the social control. And which is control the same. So this is not easily to overdo because social punishment for not doing something and not being able to be much, much harder even though mobbing and stuff like that social streams can be really hard. So it needs an element of friendly trust, I should think. So that you are accepting that somebody has a down period after nine months over performing and has time to just three months, go really mellow when everybody accepts it. Something like that.

MANUEL PISTNER

Yeah, what I also experienced. So this is again, related to trust, or transparency. In the past, we had situations where people simply didn’t appear at work. They said, Sorry, I have private issues. Okay, everyone made his own or her own picture of the situation, because we didn’t have any transparency What happened? I understand that most people will keep their private life private. That’s absolutely okay. But the more things you keep private, the less understanding you can get from others and then they make their own. They build their own world around the fact.And then they see you, if you if you are not in the company for one or two weeks, they see you as a Lazy Bone. But in your private life, maybe something really terrible happened. But if nobody knows, then we can’t support it. So what I tell those people every time is when they have to leave for three weeks or even more, I can absolutely understand it, but only if I know why. Then I can help them to get out of the situation. I can tell each and everyone in the company to support this individual if you are sick, if you have private issues, whatever we can all have, but we have to know it. So this is the transparency that is needed to give everyone a purpose why they should help you otherwise you are just not there and everyone is full of work and you’re simply not helping and supporting us. So again, transparency helps to give a purpose Would you agree on that?

DIRK STAUDT

I love the the distinguished. Everybody was talking for a long time about work life balance. And if it’s an old us me the picture applied to this word was a Schaukel Johanna, do you know the English word for Schaukel? Swing swing? Yes. And so a swing goes from one extreme to the other. So you just swing one side to the other. And balance means in that work that you’re either on that side or on that side. work life balance as a term means separate work and life. So this is a but something which is really not very helpful if I follow your your thoughts and I’m think you arrived, then the much better term would be word life, blending. Because I experienced that there is no real border between live and work in if it succeeds, that the work is so positive for your life, that you are not willingly separated from your private life, then it’s a win win for work and live is simply Yes, it’s it’s moving in and out and there’s no need to to separate that. So if you reach that, so you share your privacy as well as you share. your professional life and mix it together. So it’s you, you know, authentical you in all day situation.

MANUEL PISTNER

Yeah, that would be worth another podcast because I think it’s a little bit philosophy behind that. But how would the world look like if everything was radical transparent? You and I maybe you can know that.

Okay, but I think we shifted a little bit away from your previous question. So something else that you want to know.

JOHANNA ANTHES

Yes, absolutely. I just thought about the conversations I always have with freelancers from flesh up, which definitely contain privacy as well like when it comes to scheduling a meeting, often some some private stuff comes up. So right now I’m just thinking about trust, and let’s call it outsourcing. So which role does trust play and outsourcing so when those two worlds blend together So Manuel because you were talking about having a very trustful moment with your local team. And yeah, it would be very nice to see the or to hear your thoughts about the role of trust in outsourcing.

MANUEL PISTNER

Yes. So if I define outsourcing, I would say it’s giving work and not only work by the responsibility of the work result to another organization. So this is typically meant as or labeled as outsourcing. What we do is a little bit different because when you give responsibility to another organization, you have an account manager and no transparency. This is simply Yeah, you hope that you get a result and there is a lot of trust but there is no transparency and there is no control. And I think this is most important factor why outsourcing fails very often. What we do is we we do Don’t need those organizations to outsource to and we don’t need managers that control people. Because what I simply need is people that can contribute with their experience and their expertise to what I want to do. And help me to get my job done. Whenever I have no transparency, and I have no control over what people are doing, it’s just luck and trust that something happens but without control and I would never, never, ever give away work to an outsourcing organization where I have no transparency and no control because you simply not sharing the same interest. And back to your question, this is what I experienced with my local team. We just had a common interest. So everyone had the same facts and everyone knows what other people in the organization want to achieve, whether it was growing their salary, whether it was more vacation, whether it was working from another part of the world. So we just put our wish on the table, and then everybody could deal with that. And if this is reality in any kind of outsourcing scenario, then I think it will work otherwise it won’t.

JOHANNA ANTHES

Thanks a lot for this inside. And I also want to mention or highlight here the word communication, because communication is also the basis for trust, as we can see of this discussion. Well, yes, Manuel and Dirk, I think we were quiet through now and I would like to conclude this important conversation. So please stayed one argument for and one against trust and project teams. Yeah, that would be great.

DIRK STAUDT

Guest first. Okay, I’m very much into trust into teams, I think publicly on that. I think trust needs control in projects. And if there is no contribution of the people who are work for me, then trust is not rightfully earned. There is a counter side to trusting, which I cannot easily sit because it’s not discussed in before and but it’s, I’m failing to deliver what I trust the person to do.

MANUEL PISTNER

And yeah, from my perspective, trust without transparency is simply luck. And if you give trust to people and you have full transparency about everything, then I think this is the best way of working because everyone is free to make our own decisions and has not to fear other managers and not to fear failure. So I’m I’m absolutely for trust but only if there is transparency in the same way.

CHRIS REEVES

I’d like to thank our guests Dirk Staudt for joining us today. You can find out more about Dirk on his website using the link in the show notes. You can subscribe to the virtual frontier quarterly this review on Apple podcasts Google Play Spotify, Stitcher or anywhere else podcast. If you’d like to learn more about using virtual teams as a service, visit flashhub.io. On behalf of the team here at Flash Hub, I’d like to thank you for listening. So until next episode, keep exploring new frontiers.

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