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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities
A newsletter header image with an image of Dan Bollman behind the title 'The Details with Dan Bollman'

Trust may be the hardest thing we ever build

July 1, 2015

It wouldn’t be fair of me to assume that I know how you do your job without actually talking to you or being out in the field with you. The reverse is also true.

The point is, we can’t begin to know what the other contributes to IPF if we don’t talk to each other. It’s critical—I mean, absolutely crucial—that we all try to understand each other better if this whole reorganization/culture change “thing” is going to happen.  And it needs to happen if we are actually going to become the facilities organization that everyone else looks at and says, “How do they do it?”

As I write this, we’ve had our first town hall meeting, and while I think it went pretty well, I’ll admit to wanting a little more. Yes, there were some questions and comments, but what I was hoping for—maybe naively—was a livelier exchange of ideas.

It takes time to build trust for all of us to be comfortable exchanging ideas honestly. If we can’t build that trust with each other, how can we expect our customers to trust us?

So how exactly does trust get built, especially between people who might not have a lot of common experiences? What happens if you speak up and admit to not following some imposed procedure because out there in the REAL world, it just doesn’t work? Well, we’re in a big pickle then (I just can’t stop talking about food!), because without that kind of honest feedback, it’s impossible to create key performance indicators (metrics) that ACTUALLY help us improve performance in any kind of meaningful way.

It’s scary to talk about the way you really do things, and that goes for everyone, whether sitting at a desk or working out in the field. Once you talk about it, is someone going to challenge it? Want to change it? Tell you that you’re doing it all wrong? On the other hand, maybe people will praise it. Maybe they’ll marvel at all the great ideas you have for doing things better.

I’m giving everyone an assignment. First, come to one of the upcoming town hall meetings. There are two today, at 1:30 and 10 p.m. in the IPF lunchroom, and there’s one next Monday at 3 p.m. in the Education Center at the Surplus and Recycling Center. Come and listen and let’s have a conversation! Ask questions, make comments, give suggestions and get involved, because trust has to start somewhere, right? And if the town hall is a little too public for you, send me an email at and tell me what’s on your mind.

Until next time,