Bob MacDonald on Business

Sage Advice for Superior Business Management

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Trust Me, Trust is the Real Secret to Business Success

November 3rd, 2013 · 12 Comments · Business Management

The presence of trust makes any effort possible. The
absence of trust corrodes any relationship until nothing is possible.

Trust is the most underrated aspect of a business relationship. The presence of trust makes any effort possible. The absence of trust corrodes any relationship until nothing is possible. This is true in any relationship, but building and keeping a unique type of trust in a business relationship is challenging, but also critical to long term success.

Business trust is different than trust in a marriage or the trust we place in a pilot when we board an airplane. I would even differentiate the concept of business trust from the idea of ethics. Not that trust can be built without being ethical, but in the context here, trust has a different nuance. Trust in a business relationship is about many things, but mostly it is about being consistent with those with whom we deal.

Whether dealing with customers, venders, employees or employers, the secret to building business trust is to be what we present ourselves to be. Those we interact with in business don’t have to agree with our philosophy or methods, but if they can count on our consistency, then a bond of trust is created that significantly enhances the chances of success. Be the same today as you were yesterday and will be tomorrow. Trust is built when others can count on what we say as being what we will do.

It does not engender much trust in an organization when management is famous for saying one thing and then doing another. Trust is erroded every time a leader establishes a way to do things and then acts another way. Unfortunately, some companies do not put a high level of importance on establishing trust with employees, vendors or even customers because they don’t believe it to be necessary. It’s an attitude of, “Why do we need trust when we have power?” This way of thinking misses the point.

Many fail to recognize the value of trust in a business relationship, because it is not tangible and does not offer immediate returns. That’s because trust is a process, not a procedure. Trust cannot be bartered nor can it be mandated by any amount of power. True deep-seated trust does not come overnight, but over time. Trust is like a savings account that can be drawn down when time are tough.

Think of trust as a “get out of jail free” card, to be played when needed. A follower may not fully understand the actions or the direction a leader is taking, but if trust is present in the relationship, then the “trust card” can be used to engender committment to the actions and goals of the leader. When a company has built a high level of trust with employees and needs to make a change, it is more likely that employees will accept it, because past experience tells them it is OK to follow – even blindly.


Conversely, without trust any venture will suffer in unimagined ways. Lack of trust breeds suspicion. Those who don’t know who to trust in an organization trust no one. Productivity suffers. Employee morale implodes. Turnover is high, and the ability to attract qualified replacements is restricted. When trust in an organization is lost, the employees tend to adapt a self-preservating attitude that turns their efforts and interests from an organizational focus to a purely personal focus. Trust me, failure is not far behind.

We need to keep reminding ourselves that if we lose the trust of others, be they employees, customers or vendors, no matter what the objective is, it is unlikely others will follow. Attempting to lead without simultaneously building trust from constituent followers is the prescription for a difficult time.

It cannot be stressed enough that trust is engendered through openness, integrity, clarity of expression, and constancy. It’s a product of saying what you’re going to do and then doing it, without changing the principles that set the course. There is no faster way to lose trust than to take actions that signal you are not concerned about the best interests of those you interact with.

Never discount the value of trust. The presence of trust can be a powerful force that enables individuals and organizations to accomplish great things. The absence of trust eats away at the very soul of an organization and paralyzes all effort. For those who seek to achieve success as leaders, business executives or enterpreneurs, the process starts by understanding and respecting the value of trust. And you do this by becoming a dedicated trust builder.

And the Moral of the Story …

Trust is not something that can be seen or touched. Trust cannot be measured until it is tested and if it is found missing when it is needed most it will lead to failure and it will be too late to find and build it. Trust permeates the very essence of leadership and the ability of an organization to function; especially in difficult times. Trust is easy to build and even easier to lose. Trust comes with the consistency of communication, philosophy and actions. People do not have to agree with what a leader does to have trust, but leaders have to do what they say they will do or the trust will be lost. The presence of trust makes even the most difficult effort possible, but the absence of trust makes even the easiest effort difficult. You can put your trust in that truth.

 

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