When Memory fails Trust…what would you do?

You’ve just been summoned for a meeting by your Super Boss… the urgency and timing of the meeting and the sternness in his voice tells you it is either a crisis meeting or a meeting that would end in a crisis! You look around not knowing what to carry to the meeting and decide to pick that notepad like you’ve always done and walk into the meeting hoping that the notepad has stock of some secret potion to pull you through the meeting. You heave a sigh of relief seeing your immediate boss already at the desk, coz you know things have just been great with him on the work front and your memory gives you that much needed “you haven’t goofed up anything lately” affirmation! You discover that the point in discussion is a note from your desk that hasn’t gone well with someone up in the ranks and the Super Boss is fuming. Let’s say you’ve always been compliant on all your releases and this note as well had left your desk with the necessary approval from your immediate boss. You turn to him to tag along as you explain but you aren’t getting that eye contact…and when it finally does it throws the same questioning look at you as that from the super boss. What would you do…? Think about it and we will come back to it in a moment.

The Edelman Trust Barometer survey declared early this year that there has been an ‘Implosion of Trust’ in institutions of business, media, government and NGOs. The report reinforces the need for businesses to hold Trust as a key value for effective organization building. A weakening fiber of trust across all major institutions known to us is sure not a good sign to progress with. Before you begin to think that the scene above is to put the boss’s integrity and trustworthiness under the scanner… let me ask you to visualize that you end the meeting beaten blue and you had chosen to endure the assault, as you’ve lately noticed that your boss has had a few things fall off his active memory radar. You had a choice to push the ball to his court and let him deal with it or give him the benefit of doubt that he’d probably forgotten the approval given. Or did you tell yourself that after all the point in discussion is not about ‘who approved the note’ but the note by itself. Once again… what would you do? Confront your boss later about it and seek an explanation and cascade a correction all the way up to the super boss or let it pass and keep a watchout for the next time?

Memory, or the lack of it, does infact impact the Trust quotient we hold in an engagement or on an individual. While we know a pinch of forgetfulness over not-so-great events is a good thing, we also hope that the positive events remain deeply etched. A habitual forgetter seems to run the risk of neither trusting nor being trusted, unless the memory levels are completely understood and acknowledged. One might find it easier to work with or work around someone who knows and accepts that they have a limited memory spectrum, as against someone who doesn’t know or acknowledge it. In an organization context, if the latter is someone up the ranks then it also becomes a case of the Emperors New Clothes…who would dare say that the emperor ain’t in his robes! A forgetting mind also finds it hard to trust, as progressive and assuring experiences are not recollected and converted to credibility scores in an engagement. While its only a natural process that memory weakens and the spectrum narrows, due to ageing or as an ailment, its important to find the right method to deal with it in organizations.

Ok…so what would you do at the meeting and thereafter?

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