Entries by Trevor Lee

THE COMING CRISIS OF TRUST

As we pass the one-year mark since the beginning of the pandemic, there are so many shifts and changes that have happened in all our lives. Perhaps the biggest change in the area of our daily work is the shift to remote or flexible work (no, they are not the same thing). Working from home is certainly not new, but in the last year, even the most stalwart adherents to required in-office work have been forced to find ways to adapt. This has led many to proclaim that remote work is (mostly) here to stay, even after the pandemic has receded and we return to some form of what life was like before. While most business leaders are focused on the hard costs and benefits of remote work or flexible work, there is a cultural tension at work beneath the surface of every organization that threatens the long-term success of our new paradigms of decentralized work. The tension is whether we can choose to trust our employees and coworkers to deliver on their commitments or whether we choose to be suspicious.

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WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT LEADERSHIP AT APPLEBEES

One of my first jobs was as a waiter at Applebees. In the small town where I grew up, Applebees was the height of fine dining–so being a waiter there was the big show. I didn’t know it at the time, but that Applebees had one of the strongest workplace cultures I’ve experienced in over 20 years (okay, 25, but who’s counting?). People showed up to work with a good attitude. We helped each other out and didn’t just focus on our own tables. We worked really hard and had consistently good feedback from customers. We were open about issues and got them resolved.

As with any workplace, there were a variety of factors that came together to produce a healthy and strong culture, but there’s one that stands out in my mind to this day. Encouragement.