Trustful Kitchen

Trustful Workplaces

Trustful workplaces are healthy environments where people thrive.

Good people rise to the level of trust you place in them. They go above and beyond what’s required of them because that’s their default behaviour. They have a reputation to protect and they feel indebted to justify that investment of trust you place in them.

Conversely, like plants starved of nutrients, good people wilt in low- and no-trust environments. It’s the same whether at home or at work.

They equate that lack of trust to abuse. And so to protect themselves, they withdraw emotionally and intellectually, responding only to the bare essentials while they remain within that environment.

All well and good, you say. But people get burned all the time for trusting others. How can a business guard against the disaster of misplaced trust? My suggestion entails hard work, but it will be better than living with paranoia. I think of an approach a typical organization might take.

Set up a trustful environment or one where trust can be built

Two things.

  • You either set up an environment where everyone who participates is trusted until proven otherwise.
  • Or you create a system where people can at least earn the leader’s trust as they discharge their duties.

In the first instance, you trust people until they do something weird to prove you wrong. It means the leader employs people he can trust. People who join the organization know that they are trusted from the start, and only lose that trust or have their levels of trust reduced when they misbehave. Obviously, this will not work for every organization or every role.

This takes us to the second option starting from the other end of the stick:

No one is trusted implicitly. Everyone must earn the leader’s or organization’s trust.

Trust is built in drops and lost in buckets.

Kevin A. Plank (Founder and Chairman, Under Armour)

People have to prove themselves to be trustworthy. But the system must be transparent enough so people can earn their stripes.

Create an environment where trust is achievable

Not everyone can be trusted. So screen people for trustworthiness before they join your organization, and in the early days. CV reviews, background checks, maybe asking scenario-based questions, and then background checks and references could help. But none of these are foolproof.

Check character. But distinguish between errors of judgment and malicious behaviour. For errors of judgment, institute controls to prevent, detect, and correct for these.

One way to do this is to train your people. Courses in character-building, courage, conflict resolution, negotiation, leadership, teamwork, and of course, courses to build up technical competencies in their respective departments will help shore up weaknesses and strengthen positive attributes progressively.

Another good way to strengthen your organization’s trust environment is to adopt best practices in terms of your policies and processes.

Guard against malicious behaviour

To guard against malicious behaviour, the point I raised about adopting best practices will help protect the organization and deter such ill-behaviour to some degree.

But since you can’t have a perfect system, you should work to find people with good character. If possible, ask current employees to refer potential candidates to the company. Use that initial probation period to check for the right values. Above all, let the people know the reward of trustworthiness and the consequences of bad actions.

To the leader or boss

Either style you choose, make it easy for people to keep, earn or build trust.

But when it comes to the choice of employees or partners, let your values guide you from the get-go. I’m not talking about ability or capacity, but character. Work with the question: Can I trust this person?

Again, there is a difference between trusting people and trusting what they do. Trust people, but put operational and security controls in place. This will help guard against errors of judgment.

Remember: Set controls in place. Trust, but verify. Set levels of approvals and verifications in place. And let the consequences of breaches be clear.

Kitchen Work

“A woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

You cannot relegate the woman to the kitchen. A woman must be able to spread her wings, to fly, to soar, unhindered by society’s expectations, and the burden of kitchen work.

I agree. I disagree.

I agree that a woman or anyone for that matter, male or female, young or old should be allowed to rise to their full potential as much as they can manage within their skills and situations. I believe in the potential of the human spirit to excel, and for everyone to live out their God-given potential to the utmost.

But I also believe in responsibility, and I believe in certain cultural values. If you dig deep down enough, I’m most likely one of the patriarchal types the new world finds worthy to bash. I believe a woman with a family is blessed to have a kitchen. She may have a kitchen as a part of her responsibility or as a major responsibility if she works as a full-time housewife. What I’m saying is that we ought to reconsider the value we assign to kitchen work.

I think our opinions will shift drastically when we understand that the purpose of the kitchen is to produce nourishment for the minds, souls, and bodies of our families. It’s not about cooking and serving food. That’s the means to an end. The end, which is the ultimate aim and purpose, as noble and critical as it can be, is to nourish our families.

The success of our spouses and children and relatives may be tied to the nourishment, the food, they receive from our kitchens. Good nutrition correlates with good mental and intellectual development. Brains will function better, minds will be better equipped to handle the world. Bodies will be strong and healthy, fighting germs and disease, and attaining success in both intellectual and physical pursuits. The body cannot live without the mind* (a la Morpheus responding to Neo in The Matrix). The mind needs the body to be in good order.

Do you see what I mean?

The whole debate about who does kitchen work changes dramatically–at least for reasonable, responsible people–when you consider this perspective. So, women shouldn’t feel kitchen work is menial labour. Trust me, it is labour, I have cooked every day twice or thrice a day in the last year, but it’s labour with honour and rich rewards when you consider the effect you are striving to achieve. Good health, growth, and development for your family, energy to work, to excel at home, at play, at work, in life, for all of life. The nourishment you provide today may set up your family members for success all of their lives!

I think women are generally more suited to undertake this noble task of nourishing their families, men should do better to accord them the respect that this role deserves. Maybe then the women who feel slighted when society demands that they make food and feeding happen will begin to feel honoured and proud of their efforts.

Of course, providing food or nourishment doesn’t mean you have to cook, you can order almost any type of food you want these days. If a woman’s current context permits only that, then she has only that option.

Finally, I haven’t written this to provide a solution, I only wanted to provide a perspective on the kitchen debate.


Update on my memoir:

I’m afraid I haven’t been able to execute my writing schedule as planned. I’ve only had one editing session since my last post about it. However, I really enjoyed that one session. I’m beginning to get a better feel for how the whole thing should be laid out. I even got to carve out a draft intro or preface. I also consider bending it toward humour.

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