It’s a Matter of Trust

She knew the woman for years, they shared dreams, consoled each other and celebrated together. She explained that while she still had affection for the woman she could no longer be in relationship with the woman because she could no longer trust the woman.
Her reaction and her pledge to abandon years of friendship, made me pause in deep reflection and ask myself, “Do I trust others? Do I need to be trusted?”

Do I trust others?

I release you from the expectation that you have to live up to my trust. My trust is not a badge of honour for you to wear. I remove from you the burden of being trusted. You do not have to jump through hoops to earn my trust, you do not have to keep proving that you deserve my trust. I lighten your burden, as I do mine. I no longer have to decide whom to trust or whom not to trust. I free myself from searching for evidence of whether or not you should be trusted. I am unfettered by the ramifications of broken trust.
You are free to be who you want, do what you want and say what you want in relation to me. Your words and actions will have consequences.

Do I need to be trusted?

I have released myself from needing your blessing of being trusted. I no longer genuflect at the altar of your trust, waiting for you to bestow the magic words, “I trust you.” I am unfettered, I am free.  I free you from judging my actions, looking keenly to see if I meet the trust standard. You now have one less task. I do not need or want you to trust me. I want you to relate to me. I am free to be who I want, do what I want and say what I want in relation to you. My words and actions will have consequences.

What about trust?

I trust myself. The trust that I place in myself is universal – it is  vested in all of us. This trust is in you too. You do not have to trust me, you need to trust yourself. And as you trust you and as I trust me our interconnected-ness grows and our humanity expands.

Trusting others

When we place our trust in others, we are putting our internal on the external. We weaken our connection to  self. We ask others to care for something that only holds true value to us. When we make demands to trust others we are also asking them to give up valuable bits of themselves.

Broken Trust

When our trust is broken, the hurt is deep, because we suffer an internal wound. When our trust is broken it takes a long time to heal, because it is an internal wound. When our trust is broken we feel unsure and it takes a while to recover because we have betrayed ourselves.


I believe that we are all interconnected as human beings. My trust is for me, as yours is for you. When I trust myself and you trust yourself, all the rest will fall in place.

Tell me, whom do you trust?

Maxine Attong is an Organisational Development Consultant, author and coach. If you enjoyed this post, please share with you colleagues, friends and network

(Featured image by Good Morning Quotes)

Welcome to our Conference

Opening remarks made by Maxine Attong – President of HRMATT at HRMATT’s one day Conference – Business Unusual held on June 29th at the Trinidad HYATT

The word disrupt is in the air.

Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School hosted its Disruption Day Conference in May 2018.  At the Conference, Professor Luke Williams stated “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste”, and emphasized that companies are now required to “innovate”.

Ronald Hinds, the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s echoed these sentiments at the Chamber’s Annual Business Luncheon, themed “Make Bold Moves To Change Your Predictable Outcome. “Perhaps we can see the current crisis not as the shattering of our perfect world but an opportunity to remake it.” Hinds advised that, “We need to change and change quickly. Sometimes, it takes a burning platform for people to make the leap.”

All strategies that are implemented in the organization have an impact on the people. Projects are done by the people, the new processes and the new technologies impact on how people work. It is our job as Human Resources to work with the leaders of the various initiatives to ensure that the ethics, the core values, and the culture of the organization are retained. We need to ensure that whatever is done for the business is done within the limits of the Industrial Relations Acts and that all  legal and statutory requirements are adequately met.

That is the traditional role of HR. We are the care takers. We pick up the pieces and ensure that all is in place for the organization to function. We are tagged after the changes are made and implemented.

Today we at HRMATT – Human Resources Management Association of Trinidad and Tobago – are sending a strong signal that this is the old way. We are challenging HR professionals to innovate. HR too is required to make Bold moves.

HRMATT has its own burning platforms and we know that we have to take the leap. We are committed to making different decisions that will redound to our own bold moves.
We are questioning everything and will change the way that we are doing everything. We are building a repository of articles from our members on Linked in and Facebook. We are inviting our members home. We are being transparent with the decisions that we make and the things that we do. We are being strategic in the way that we step into partnership with other business associations, educational bodies and professional membership institutions.
We at HRMATT have already made the Bold Move of pledging our commitment to seeing the Draft National Policy on Sexual Harassment come to fruition. And we will continue to boldly to make our presence felt on the national landscape.

HRMATT invites our membership to be involved with us. Join a committee, volunteer at the office, renew your membership, write an article or pitch an idea that you’re willing to bring  to fruition.  There is a place at HRMATT for each and every one of you.

Today is not about HRMATT. Today we will hear about the Bold Moves that are being made in the Caribbean landscape and most importantly the Bold Moves that HR professionals have made and are required to make.

Welcome to our conference.

Maxine Attong is an Organizational Development Consultant, author and coach. If you enjoyed this post, please share with you colleagues, friends and network


Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC)

Excerpts from the speech of Canada’s High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Ms Carla Hogan Rufelds, at the graduation ceremony of Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC)

Under the umbrella of promoting sustainable business development, Canada has invested CAN$20 Million in the Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean, (EPIC) which promotes high growth, inclusive and sustainable entrepreneurship in the Caribbean.
The core activities of this investment include the development of business incubators for digital entrepreneurship, support to women entrepreneurs networks and climate technology. The WINC program is part of the women entrepreneurs network.

We sometimes hear that women prefer to stay home. An International Labour Organisation (ILO) survey asked women their preference between paid work, or care for their families or both . 70% of those surveyed indicated a very clear preference for paid work. Despite this stated option, women participate less in the work force.

In the Caribbean, female labour participation is lower than males’ due to factors including unequal access to opportunity, legal obstacles and wage gaps. The main obstacles are gender roles, lack of transport, work-life balance and lack of affordable care for their dependents.

Research shared by Professor Moore of the University of the West Indies illustrates that less than 20% of entrepreneurial business in the Caribbean are owned by women. Women face more obstacles than men to start businesses including access to finance, crime and corruption.

For employed women the gender pay gap is at 19%.
Most economic opportunities are in largely male dominated sectors. This is compounded by women’s low participation in STEM – Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics, – which translates to low employment opportunities in the sectors which tend to yield higher wages.

A 2016 InterDevelopment Bank (IDB) analysis looking at 70,000 publicly listed companies worldwide, revealed that Caribbean companies have an average of 18% female board members and 29% of female executives.

For all these reasons, programs such as WINC are vital to support the drive for women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender equity in the economic landscape for Caribbean countries.

Canada believes that when women are empowered, they become powerful agents for change capable of transforming their families, communities and their countries. The Canadian government is pleased to continue to provide funding for initiatives such as WINC because we want to build a world in which women’s economic empowerment and the leadership of women are brought to fruition every day.

Maxine Attong is an Organizational Development Consultant, author and coach. If you enjoyed this post, please share with you colleagues, friends and network.

Egg Crates for Sherry

He opened the kitchen drawer and shook his head. He opened another, looked at me and said,“What’s with all the empty egg crates?
I looked up and explained, “Oh I keep them for Sherry. She sells eggs. I keep the crates for her.”
He tried to keep a straight face, “ When last did you give her crates? They are all over the place.”
A week later, as I was cleaning the house, I realized just how many egg crates I was keeping for Sherry. That made me stop and pause.
Sherry works at my last place of formal employment. I left that place 18 months ago. Since then I have been back at that office twice. I have no reason to return there and the office’s location is not on my regular route.
Yet, I convinced myself that I was going to pass and drop off these egg crates. Even better, I convinced myself that Sherry really needed my crates. I was sure that Sherry needed egg crates specifically from me.
In that moment, I realized that I was holding on to the past and hadn’t let go. Part of me still wanted to have use, and relevance to a story that was over 18 months ago.
With that awareness, I went from drawer to drawer, retrieving egg crates and putting them in a garbage bag.
I know for sure that Sherry will survive without them.

What’s your egg crate? What are you holding on to?

Maxine Attong is an Organizational Development Consultant, author and coach. If you enjoyed this post, please share with you colleagues, friends and network.


It happened to me, too

He was senior to me and we had little interaction. Thus, when he entered my office, in his plaid, short sleeved shirt, I greeted him enthusiastically, “Hi Mr C.”

He grumbled something, extended his left hand and held onto my left breast. I can see it now, in slow motion as I type.
I dug the nails of my right hand into his exposed lower left arm, flung his hand away, and shouted “No.”
He looked at me, confused and hurt, then shuffled out of my office. I followed him, hot on his heels. When he ducked into his office, I continued to the CEO’s office.
I bypassed the CEO’s secretary and barged into his office. I shouted, “Your man grabbed me.”  The CEO looked up at me; he had no idea what I was talking about. I continued. “ Mr C, just grabbed my left breast. And you need to do something about it.” I turned, left his office, even more outraged.
I returned to my desk, dialed my girlfriend,who is a lawyer, and told her what happened. She commiserated and explained that while there wasn’t a sexual harassment law, there were other legal measures that could be taken. The first step was to document the event and send it to my superiors.
I emailed the CEO and my direct report and copied the cretin. The email detailed the events, indicated that I spoke to my lawyer and demanded that something be done.
No-one responded to my email, but within the week the cretin was gone. He was off the payroll and not on the vendor’s list. Life went on.
Weeks’ later two women, who reported to me, shared that Mr C. had also touched them inappropriately. I asked them why they didn’t report the event to me. Their responses were:

  • They didn’t know what to do, since there was no policy or procedure around this.
  • Mr C was the CEO’s right hand man and very powerful,
  • They thought reporting would be frowned upon
  • They feared that no one would believe them
  • They didn’t think anything would be done about it
  • They didn’t think that they had any form of recourse.

It didn’t end there. At the company’s Christmas function, the CEO was holding court, sharing war stories. In front of me, he shared the story of the time that I barged into his office. He chuckled and remarked, ” Poor Mr C, I had to let him go. He touched the wrong one.”

As I  participated in the consultation on the National Draft Policy on Sexual Harassment, that event came to mind and I shared it with my peers. After sharing, a colleague quietly and confidentially shared her story of sexual harassment with me. She confessed that she had never shared her story before (not even with her husband), and expressed her relief in getting it off her chest, some twenty plus years later.

What’s your story on sexual harassment? What did you see or experience?

If you cannot share  publicly, message me and I will share it anonymously for you.  I fully support the National Policy on Sexual Harassment.  This needs to stop.

Maxine Attong is an Organizational Development consultant and author. If you found value in the story please share with your colleagues and networks.

Being of Service

I enthusiastically picked  up the phone because one of my favorite persons was on the other end. Uncharacteristically, she sounded hesitant. “Maxine” she started. “I need a favor. HRMATT needs a strategic session and we need a facilitator.” (Human Resources Management Association of Trinidad and Tobago)
I did not hesitate to respond, “Yes, I will do it.”
Then she said. “We cannot pay you. And the session will be held on a Saturday.”
This did not change my decision.

I have been flirting with HRMATT for a couple of years. I have said Yes to HRMATT when I edited articles for its magazine – HRMatters, or when I wrote articles for said magazine, or when I spoke at the last two biennial conferences. Now I finally had a date.

That Saturday I met with the HRMATT”S executive team and facilitated the strategic session. It was a Workshop and these leaders worked. They brainstormed. questioned, championed, resisted, discussed, disagreed and agreed until they landed on some mutually agreed points that they hammered out into strategic statements.

Six months later I attended the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and I was nominated for President. A few minutes after, I was elected to serve as President.

I had no plans of being elected to HRMATT’s executive team. In the moment when nominated I intended to serve and as I had done before, I said Yes.  I can only conclude

  • There is no big or small act of service – they are all equally weighted
  • Saying Yes is powerful and sends waves through the Universe
  • When we show up in service, we too are served.

Will you join me in service?
I cannot promise where it will take you, but I can promise that if you don’t take the first step, you will never know.

What are you not saying Yes to? Where can you be of service?

Maxine Attong is an Organizational Development Consultant and author.  If you found value in the post, please share with your colleagues and friends.

Leaders – Don’t call the PoPo

Verb Phrase: Call the PoPo

Origin: Black American cultural/ political expression

Context: Organizational

Definition – A leader who (ab)uses the power or privilege vested in him/her by the organization to consciously or unconsciously discriminate against or to sully the reputation of or to belittle or to harm or to incriminate a person with less power/ privilege within his team or the wider organization.

1) Mr Smith called the PoPo when he berated the people who were laughing at the water cooler.  He explained,  “ This is an office. Laughter suggests that they are not working.”

2) Sandra is exhausted, she’s been up 3 consecutive nights with her sick baby. Her manager is aware and empathetic. She puts her head down for a moment. Mrs Jones calls the PoPo as she says to Sandra’s manager ”I cannot have Sandra on the  the special assignment. She’s lazy, she’s sleeping on the job”

3) John’s kids eyes grew wide with astonishment as they watched Mrs Knight shout loudly and say mean things to their father. As John averted their eyes, he and his kids shared the deep knowledge that Mrs Knight was calling the PoPo on John.

Have you as a leader ever called the popo on your team members? What could you have done differently? What other examples of leaders calling the PoPo have you witnessed? Please share them

If you liked the article, please share or comment or repost.

(image by ODOBESTI)

3 Leadership Tips from Starbucks Settlement

By now you would have heard the news: the two men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, who were discriminated against by the Starbucks barista, accepted a settlement of USD1 each and got the city’s commitment to fund a USD200,000 grant program for high school students aspiring to become entrepreneurs.
As I read  their decisions and listened to their interviews I noted three tips, that would assist leaders to effectively lead their teams and to make better decisions.

Tip 1 : Leaders have long term vision – Nelson and Robinson are college students who undoubtedly could use the money. Yet, instead of cashing in on the situation they looked ahead, a little further down the road at their bigger vision. The swiftness of their decision, the manner in which they navigated this murky and dramatic situation suggested to me that these guys had a vision long before the event occurred. It was therefore easy for them to turn a negative into a positive since they viewed the event as an opportunity to move one step closer to their overall vision.

Leaders are also asked to have a long term vision. How many of us have a long term vision for ourselves and for our teams? The leader who has a long term vision is not distracted by what happens, she uses her long term vision to temper the effects of the present situation. Her vision becomes a barometer and the question she asks herself when difficult situations arise is “How can this situation serve my long term vision?”

Tip 2: Leaders are focused on others and not self– The decision to set up a fund for entrepreneurs moves the spotlight from Nelson and Robinson to other unnamed and unseen parties. They are creating opportunities for others to shine. They are building a legacy by providing a service to others.

How many of us as leaders have created opportunities for team members to grow? How many of us turn the spotlight on team members or put things in place for them to achieve their dreams? Leadership is about others and as the leader leads he also serves. While there may be a personal long term benefit for the leader who builds a legacy, it is often done by willingly sharing the spot light in the short term. As leaders we need to encourage others to build their skills, to increase their capabilities and to become leaders.

Tip 3: Leaders make economically sound decisions. – In one interview Nelson and Robinson explained that there is cost to a lawsuit, both in money and time. They consciously made an economic decision to accept the fund for USD200,000, even though there was a high probability that a lawsuit would result in more money.  They are also sharply aware that the USD 200,000 grant is only for one year and have begun discussing how to sustain the grant beyond the first year.

Every decision that we make as leaders directly or indirectly impacts on our companies’ bottom line. Do you think about the bottom line when making decisions? Our leadership does not exist in a vacuum, it exists in the context of an organization that has a mission and vision therefore our decisions should also reflect these. Those of us who work in for-profit organizations, have a responsibility to ensure that our decisions make a positive contribution to the company’s bottom line and that secure the company’s sustainability over the long term. This aspect of leadership is not often discussed, but leaders cannot be economically naive.  We have an economic responsibility to our companies and the teams that we lead.

 What thoughts did you have as you watched the Starbucks settlement unfold?

If you are a leader and want to increase the effectiveness of your team and your personal contributions as a leader, then drop me a line. I’m here in service.

(image by TriniChow)

7 Questions from the Chamber of Commerce

Two weeks ago, I attended the Chamber of Industry and Commerce AGM and luncheon This was a sold out event and I understood why.  The occasion was an opportunity to (re)connect with persons whom I knew, to meet new people, to learn about what others were doing and to share a bit about myself.
As I listened to the presenters share about their new projects, I identified 7 questions that they asked themselves to determine their next steps and to make decisions. I thought that today I would share these questions with you:

1) What is my Vision? – This speaks to your overall vision for yourself, for your business or for your family.

2) How do I want to live? Determine the quality of life that you want for you and your loved ones. Identify what a day in your life looks like – what you are doing, where you are doing it and with whom you are doing it

3) What do I want? – Determine what you want physically, emotionally and spiritually

4) What is my core? Identify the skills, competencies and talents that you have at this time

5) How can I expand my core? Decide how you can easily build on your existing skills to increase the probability of getting what you want

6) What are my low hanging fruits? Think about what is easy for you to access right now that will take you one step closer to your vision or to what you want.

7) What am I doing now for five years in the future? Decide where all of this is leading you to. This is your pull factor that will keep you going.

Which of these questions resonated with you?  Which of these questions were the most difficult to answer?

I answered these questions myself and some of my answers were insightful, setting me on a new path and different directions.  It was good to stop and stick a pin and look at the way ahead.

If you need assistance answering these questions then feel free to give me a call.  I will be happy to assist you to answer these questions.