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Building and Maintaining Positive Relationships – A key element of workplace wellbeing

November 29, 2022
I’ve not yet seen positive relationships in any workplace where TRUST hasn’t been close to or at the core. So the question must come, assuming positive relationships are desired, how can we build trust? Or more interestingly perhaps, what part did trust play in the story of QF32?

Let me go back a while …

On November 4 2010 QF32 (Qantas A380) took off from Singapore headed for Sydney. About 10 minutes into the flight there occurred a catastrophic engine failure. Hours later Captain Richard de Crespigny landed the crippled A380 back at Changi (Singapore) and all 469 people on board got off the plane safely. Many have since written that Captain de Crespigny and his crew delivered the impossible.

The story fascinated me. Captain de Crespigny wrote a book (QF32), I was given it for Christmas some time back. It was one of the best books I’ve read. The major thing I drew from it was that throughout the ordeal there was trust – trust in their processes but, far more importantly, trust in each other. And most importantly, all 468 people, crew in particular, trusted Captain de Crespigny. I started wondering what habits he had that developed such trust.

On a Sydney-Dallas flight around 2018 we were pushing back from the terminal on departure and the usual captain announcement came over … “Hello, this is your captain, I’ll be flying you to Dallas, my name is Richard de Crespigny …”

After the seatbelt sign came off I jumped up and asked the Head Steward if I could meet Richard. He said “Yes, almost for sure. He does a round of the plane after we’ve levelled out just to see how we are all going. I’ll let him know.”

Sure enough, he did his round of the plane then came and sat next to me (I had a spare seat) for about 15 minutes. We talked a bit about QF32 but much more on leadership. Trust was the overwhelming undertone in everything he said. As he left to go back to the cockpit I recall thinking ‘if this plane gets in strife as we cross the Pacific, I’ll back our chances of getting out of it OK’. I trusted him.

Recently, through a Qantas executive, a mate of Richard’s I met through golf, I again got in contact with him. He has written a second book called ‘Fly’. The subject is leadership. I received a copy of the book, that below was written on one of the early pages.

Building and Maintaining Positive Relationships - A key element of workplace wellbeing -

I love the bit about building with teaspoons. It ties in perfectly with our Job Relations foundations listed below. They are ‘teaspoon hints’ – things you can do daily in small lots – deliver them in teaspoons …

Thank you Richard de Crespigny.

Let Each Worker Know How He/She is Doing

      Figure out what you expect of the person

      Point out ways to improve

Give Credit When Due

      Look for extra or unusual performance

      Tell the person while it’s “hot”

Tell People in Advance About Changes that Will Affect Them

      Tell them why if possible

      Work with them to accept the change

Make Best Use of Each Person’s Ability

      Look for abilities not now being used

      Never stand in a person’s way