Monday, July 23, 2012

Building Trust

We have often heard it said that trust is difficult to develop, yet easy to lose.  In business, we know that solid relationships are built upon a foundation of trust.  And yet, research shows us that only 49% of employees 'trust' Senior Management.  The implication seems to be that despite our 'knowing' we need to cultivate an environment of trust, we aren't 'doing' what it takes to build it, let alone support it.

Stephen Covey says that 'Trust is confidence born of two dimensions:  character and competence". Character being comprised of elements such as integrity, intentions and motives, and competence elements like capabilities, skills, results and track record.  It is not enough to simply demonstrate that you have the skills to fulfil the responsibilities of your role if you do not also enter into your business dealings in an ethical manner.  Conversely, the reverse is also true.  You may demonstrate integrity in your approaches, but if you lack the requisite skills to get the job done, then others won't trust your in your ability to make it happen.

The truth of the matter typically rests not in the 'good' times.  When things are running smoothly it is easier to be more trustworthy.  It is easier to hit deadlines, easier to show interest and compassion in others, easier to be more upfront in your business dealings and relationships.  Trust then is typically really made or broken during the tough times.  It is during those difficult moments, when making those tough decisions, that your strength of character determines the path you follow and, ultimately, how trustworthy you are.

Often, the cost to us of straying from the path of our convictions, of compromising just the slightest, is much larger than we may realize in that moment.  We become much more aware of the price that was levied when we attempt to rebuild what was lost, discovering that in many instances we have inadvertently created a gulf far too large to be bridged.

Use the following to help you find ways to build, and maintain, your trust-level with others and perhaps also as a gauge of where you may be making compromises that are damaging the trust levels in your relationships and your reputation.

You build trust by...
  • Making the 'right' decision, even when it might not be popular, or cheaper options exist
  • Showing up when it's not convenient for you
  • Saying what you feel even when risky
  • Keeping your promises to others, even when you might have gotten away with not doing so
  • Being transparent in your motives and intentions
  • Telling the truth, even when it would be easier to lie
  • Doing what you say you will, when you say you will, even when something 'better' came along
  • Righting wrongs, even when you could have walked on by them without anyone knowing you were there
  • Being open about what your expectations are of others, situations, and yourself
  • Holding yourself accountable to your agreements, handshakes, promises, potential
  • Trusting others will earn your trust in them, rather than withholding your trust until they have 'earned' it
Remember that there are typically two options to any choice we face - the high road and the low road. Trust is always built on the high road.  If you find yourself journeying along a lower road option, know that it is rarely the short-cut that it might seem at the time.  Short cuts generally create distances and gaps in other pathways that may more than offset any perceived advantage that the low-road seemed to provide.

Trust me on this one!

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