Man raising his eyebrow. ? 2008 Lee J Haywood. Via Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Why Hidden High Potentials Aren’t Trusted

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Underachievers Leave a Comment

Trust, it seems, is the glue that makes organizations sing. But you don’t necessarily need much of it to succeed. And you can simply eat off the store trust (social capital) built through long years of hard work by those who came before.

Come to think of it, it doesn’t take long to eat through a century’s worth of social capital.

I’ve been thinking about this as a result of reading Francis Fukuyama’sTrust (1995?) and reflecting on some of the goals of the Glacier Metal Company methods. Both Wilfred Brown and Elliott Jaques talk about trust and trust-building as why you need to create a requisite organization; that is, an organization where people have “real bosses” who can actually judge their work and set context for it, and compensation that is decently aligned with what people feel is fair (“felt-fair pay).

There’s a lot more to trust, of course. Let’s look at a couple of things that impact how people don’t trust Hidden High Potentials.

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Hidden High Potentials (HHPs) work at jobs that are too small for them. As a result, they often try to “pass” as people who fit that size. They do this because they can’t get work that fits and need to have work. As work becomes more and more flat, more and more streamlined, companies are less likely to put up with workers who aren’t the exact fit.

The other people don’t really trust you because you represent yourself as something you aren’t.

The boss doesn’t trust you because you don’t do work in the right way, the way that everyone else does. You also try to solve problems that he doesn’t see, problems that are within your time horizon but outside of his. You are both irritating and strange.

There is something terrifying to most people when someone that they know shows himself to be something more than he has seemed. The prophet is without honor in his hometown because to honor who the prophet has reveled himself to be would both challenge current social stratifications and call into question the past social exchanges. Yep, totally screws things up.

Which is why HHPs usually have to go somewhere else, even new fields, to find right fitting work.

Image Credit: Self-portrait. © 2008 Lee J Haywood. Via Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps managers and experts find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants. Forrest lives and works plain view of North Carolina's Mount Baker.  [contact]

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