‘Nothing in business is as fast or as profitable as trust’ so says Stephen MR Covey.
But what is trust and how do you really build it?
I have worked with organisations over the past few years who are trying to do exactly that because they realise that trust is becoming a more important part of how businesses compete. We only have to look at the headlines for large organisations avoiding tax to see that their reputation and trust is being held to question…even though they are acting legally.
Understanding what trust is, how it is made up and what you can do to increase it can be a complex matter; doctorates have been written on the subject, Harvard Professors are publishing books on it.
So how do we make it simple?
Those who have read my blogs before will know I prefer what I call Practical and Applicable strategies..things that are easy to implement and they work!
So here is a 3 step guide to building trust
1) Do you trust yourself? Start with you…
Do not worry about whether others trust you until you can honestly say that you trust yourself. How many times in the last month, week or even 24hours have you made a commitment to yourself that you have broken? ‘I’ll go the gym tonight’ only to bail last minute; ‘I’ll get the garden done on Saturday morning’ only to see Monday come round too soon…the list goes on.
Now you might say, ‘well I might let myself down but I follow through for other people’.
The trouble with this pattern is habit. If we get into the habit of letting ourselves down and not following through on the most simple commitments, then this all too easily spills into other areas of our life.
2) Introduce the ‘Pause’
While the temptation to please others can be all too powerful, it is never useful to carelessly commit to activities that you simply will not follow through on. ‘I’ll call you tomorrow’ and then not find the time; ‘I’ll get that done by Friday’ and not send it through till Monday. These seemingly small lapses of judgement gradually erode the levels of trust people place in you.
Trust will increase in you when you commit less and follow through every time, not just some of the time.
Simple strategy here: the next time you are about to commit to someone or something, pause
Think: is this realistic that I will do this?(by realistic, I mean, stop being overly optimistic in terms of what you can complete in a given day or week).
If there is a slight chance you cannot fulfil this commitment, just say so: ‘Friday is unlikely as I am busy this week but Monday is realistic’. Or, ‘sorry, I’m not going to be able to commit to that’.
3) Behave to your strengths
It is how we behave, not how we intend to behave, that gets noticed. As Covey says ‘we judge ourselves on our intention and judge others on their behaviour’. Well put. Let’s start judging ourselves on our behaviour.
All of us have behavioural preferences. Some of us like detail. Some of us like the big picture. Some of us like talking about feelings. Some of like talking about tasks.
The point is we all have areas where our behaviours are naturally strong; yet all too often we try to take on tasks where we are naturally weak. I hear all the time managers say to their employees ‘you’re not strong on detail, so I’m going to get you to do the detailed report for the next month’.
Would it not be better to say ‘you don’t have natural strengths in detail, so I’m giving this task to John, but you are a natural motivator, can you run the team meetings for me for the next month’
If you know your natural behavioural strengths, then you can play to it. If you know the natural behavioural strengths of others, then you can play to that also.
Your trust increases in areas where you add value consistently. You add value most often where the task plays to your natural strengths.
How do you find out what your naturally strong behaviours are?
There are a plethora of tools out there to help with this, and I have used pretty much all of them.
For me, there is one that stands out: TetraMap. Originating in New Zealand, this incredibly simple tool uses the metaphor of nature to help you instantly grasp where your natural behaviours provide real strength…and ultimately in what areas you will be most trusted.
Whatever tool you use, just make sure you take the time to understand where you are most naturally trusted and work out how you can play to those strengths more often
So what about your whole organisation? Take the same 3 lessons and apply them across your business.