By now, you’ve likely seen the video of Andi Owen, the CEO of MillerKnoll, ranting about her people’s concerns that they wouldn’t receive a bonus this year.
If you haven’t seen the video, search on your favourite social media platform with her name and you’ll quickly find it. It truly is a masterclass in destroying trust in an organization.
It seems MillerKnoll has a $26 million shortfall in revenue.
I’m sure the MillerKnoll management team, including Owen, has been strategizing on how to make up for this shortfall.
There are likely plans, charts and complex spreadsheets that explain how they will make up for this gap.
They can count the number of hours people work, how much product is produced, and how much revenue the company earned.
However, if they ignore what they can’t see, they will fail to realize their goals.
Trust is certainly one of those unseen things leaders cannot ignore.
Without trust, people will naturally protect themselves from perceived danger (such as losing their job.)
When people at work protect themselves from a perceived danger, they will only do enough and what they’re told to do for a passing grade. (I.e. to keep themselves from being fired.)
To truly improve, you must have the minds and hearts of those who know the work best, which is the people who do the job.
Trust, however, is a feeling and can only be measured qualitatively.
Trust is also based on a moment in time, so while you may enjoy a high degree of trust today, it can be gone tomorrow.
I suspect through her rant, Owen has caused irreparable harm to her ability to hold her people’s trust.
What’s worse is that her apology to staff included the statement, “I feel terrible that my rallying cry seemed insensitive.”
I haven’t read her full apology to the staff, but this one sentence demonstrates how she’s not owning her impact.
Instead, her words tell me she is blaming people for their response to her rant.
As a leader, delivering difficult news is always challenging. Hearing criticisms about your decisions can be equally as hard. Apologizing can leave you feeling anxious.
When delivering difficult news or apologizing, take the time to check in with yourself before you speak.
Are you in integrity with yourself and what you’re about to say?
Are you empathizing with the other(s) and the impact you’re about to have on them?
How are you holding the other person’s best interests in mind?
Are you being fully open in your message, or are you leaving manipulating the news to make it easier to deliver?
Trust is difficult to build and easy to destroy. Without trust, though, you’ve lost your ability to lead others.