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Building Trust - 5 February 2008

Do you think that Janet Jackson is trustworthy? How about Donald Trump? Or Nelson Mandela?

We’d surely trust Janet to give us advice on show-business because she’s been a superstar for two decades. We’d certainly trust Donald Trump as our business coach because he’s one of the world’s most successful businessmen. And we’d definitely trust Nelson Mandela with activism because he’s triumphed over incredible adversity.

What trust boils down to is credibility. The more credible you are, the more you’re deemed to be trustworthy. And credibility is the result of consistent competence.

Let’s look at people we might not trust. Would you trust Kenneth Lay, the ex-head of Enron, to give you business advice? Would you trust Britney Spears to baby-sit your children? Would you trust Robert Mugabe with running your country? In each case, the answer is probably no. And in each case it’s due to their lack of credibility and competence.

If your aim is to build trust with your employees, sure there are heaps of little actions you can take such as being honest, open, reliable, and responsible. But at the end of the day, what will build trust instantly is your level of credibility - your consistent competence.

So how credible are you? Employees won’t trust you with their career development unless you’ve had success with other employees’ careers. They won’t trust that you care for their work/life balance unless they see you living and breathing it yourself. They won’t trust you if you say “quality is paramount” unless you treat them in the same way you want them to treat your customers.

As Janet wrote in one of her hit songs, “Gotta trust in me and we will see true victory…”.

 

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