Should You Always Pick Talent Over Trust?

Kris Dunn Kris Dunn, Organizational Development, Talent Strategy

That’s a loaded/trick question.

You probably reacted to that by thinking, “We have nothing if we don’t have trust.” To me, I’m not sure–I think it depends on your definition of trust.

Do you think trust is integrity at all times and ethics? How do you measure that? Is trust doing things like you expect them to be done? Do people have to check in with you if they’re going to do something that would cause you not to trust them? Have you trained them on what that is?

Of course you haven’t.

And the definition of trust is different for all of us.

That’s why I think I would pick high talent over high trust if given the choice for an organization. Talent gets things done and if an organization has a high talent level, odds are that organization will outperform its peer group.

An organization full of people you can trust might be a high performing organization–or it might be lame from a performance perspective. Odds are, organizations full of people you can trust will fall along the bell curve.

Of course, the two factors–talent and trust–aren’t mutually exclusive.

You can have both.

The problem is that for all the issues with measurement of performance, we are still much more capable of measuring performance in an individual than we are of measuring how much we can trust that same person. And our definitions of trust will differ dramatically person by person, which creates unbelievable variability within a single organization.

You don’t know you have a problem with trust–until it’s gone. We should always pick talent over intangibles we have trouble measuring.

If you can tell me how you accurately measure trust, I’ll change that stance.