Trust has to do with giving credit, counting on something without certainty, optimism, reliability.
That sounds pretty vague, not like something that can be made. Can you manage that? Yes, supervisory directors should even do that. Managing trust is a must for them. Few realize, however, that trust for supervisory directors in their relationship with the board is a Janus head, a head with two faces. In the right way, it can elevate the supervisory director and the organization. In the wrong way, too much trust or a lack of it can be destructive to the organization. So this is a balancing act. The dual role of a supervisory director doesn’t make it any easier. He controls on the one hand and is an advisor and confidant on the other. He has to stand in the way if he doesn’t quite trust ‘the business’. He must also give credit at the right time.

How should you do that properly as a supervisory director?
There is an operational difference between business trust and personal trust. Business trust is focused on living up to the necessary competencies. As a supervisory director, you must be able to trust that the director is fit for the job. If there is reason for doubt, you must do something about it. Train or replace. Correct. To determine the effectiveness and suitability of the board, supervisory directors like to resort to seemingly objective metrics: KPIs, revenue projections, sales figures, customer satisfaction. It is rather questionable whether such a seemingly objective approach is sufficiently effective, but we just go with it because it seems clear and we like it that way. So building business trust usually works.

Dealing with personal trust is more difficult. Personal trust arises, grows and disappears in our feelings. Yet it is not a solitary experience. Personal trust is usually reciprocal. That means credit space back and forth. Personal trust has to do with appreciation, recognition, and an associated high reciprocal favor factor. This is precisely why it is the lubricant of any relationship. You can’t do without it. This also makes the manufacturability of personal trust a must for supervisory directors. So as a supervisory director you also have to work on personal trust.

In fact, personal trust is a necessary condition for effective cooperation. It is therefore fine, even desirable to a certain extent, that there is sufficient personal trust between supervisory directors and management board members. However, the supervisory director must be careful not to allow his personal trust to steer business trust. If the award factor becomes too great, business trust can be stretched to the point where it no longer serves the interests of the organization. Conversely, if there is too little personal trust, the director can no longer work effectively and also fail to live up to the business trust.

There are no KPIs for personal trust. Only keywords such as honesty, transparency and reliability. That cannot really be measured. When things go wrong is a measuring moment, but too late. An effective supervisory director will always have to be able to name the relationship between his personal and business trust in the director when asked. That’s why I advocate making this theme a permanent part of the self-evaluation.

Trust is therefore also maintenance-sensitive. In my experience it is much easier to break down trust than to build it up. And once it’s broken down, it doesn’t come back, or only with great difficulty. This means that personal trust in a relationship between supervisory directors and management board must also be guarded. It needs to be worked on, as does business trust (educate, replace or correct).

Ask your fellow supervisory director: how much credit do you give the managing director and why?
I’m curious what the answer would be.

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