Trusting relationships are vital to the conduct of business. This is the employment of best business practices.
The level of trust between people is a greater determinant of success than anything else. How we handle this is the employment of best business practices.
In a previous blog on Change, I wrote about “Agility”. This was discovered in the 1990s, in a study conducted by Ken Preiss, Steve Goldman, and Dr. Roger Nagle. They determined what high-performing companies were doing to be leaders in their industries. One of the four principles is “Cooperate with other businesses to enhance competitiveness”.
Many business owners and executives believe they are practicing Agility.
They are wrong. They feel that they are already cooperating with others. What they are doing is not what Preiss, Goldman, and Nagle found. They discovered that the high performing companies were extremely close in their dealings. This closeness included sharing confidential information. They worked so closely that they shared resources such as employees and facilities. To do this requires complete trust in each other. That is why trust is a key employment of best business practices.
There is one company we worked with for over 15 years. My company and I started on a few projects to help with operational improvements. Initially, we helped the company to achieve productivity gains. Our relationship became very close. They trusted us. In fact, the Vice President of Operations did not hire staff people to take over our work. He was so comfortable with us that he utilized us as though we were his internal staff.
The owner became our biggest advocate. He spoke on our behalf at various open houses where we were soliciting other clients. He told them that we were his secret weapon. While he endorsed us, he also said that by doing so, he might be harming his own business by sharing us with others. But he was willing to do this because he trusted us. He knew that by using us other companies would also employ a key employment of best business practices.
We worked on many projects with his company. As they opened new facilities for their growing business, we had a presence in each one. We knew all the staff and many of the employees on the floor. We spoke openly with everyone and they did the same with us. Together we worked to make them a preeminent company in their industry. They made many capital investments based on our recommendations. This included the selection and implementation of a new information system. They then used this to run the business.
The business continued to thrive and we were there to assist in the growth. When they needed a new Quality Director, we located a person, we knew to take that role. He was a person I had worked with at another company. The company hired him based on our recommendation.
They became very successful. So successful that another company bought them with an offer they couldn’t refuse.
The new owner kept the key staff in place. We continued our role as their improvement group. We became involved in new facilities and operations. The trust we had established before, became stronger. And, we were now trusted by not only our current friends, but by a new set of friends.
After a few years, the previous owner decided to leave the new company. He wasn’t done though. He started another company.
And guess what?
He called us and asked for our help, just as we had done with and for him at our two other engagements. He knew that we would help him with employment of best business practices in his new venture. His trust in us and our work was implicit. You cannot buy that kind of relationship. It is earned by working closely together and earning each other’s trust and respect. This is an employment of best business practices
Our work was now to help a new company to get established.
We helped to establish policies and procedures for all departments. When they had audit difficulties with their man client, we established an internal audit procedure. We conducted an audit with the new procedure and assisted them in cleaning up some problems. They then passed their next external audit with flying colors.
- Engage the person in an open discussion about issues. These should be key to them.
- Listen to what is important to them.
- Frame the true root issue. Be open and honest about this without blaming or being hurtful. But, you must be honest and direct.
- Envision a win-win outcome and results. Clarify the benefits of your recommendations. Be clear about what is at stake.
- Commit to actionable next steps. These must include a significant commitment for both of you. If you are not as committed, trust will not be built.
The most powerful part of developing trust is listening. If you do not listen to the other person, important thoughts will be missed. You will then jump to take an action that may be entirely wrong and inappropriate. Trust will then either not occur or will be lost. This is not an employment of best business practices
Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
It is an understanding we have with those we interact with regularly. They must recognize that we have them and their company’s best interests at heart. They must also feel that we are doing whatever it takes to ensure we are working with and for them. They should expect results from our efforts. And, if a problem does arise it will be dealt with and corrected promptly and professionally.
Without trust, both parties may have strong doubts that whatever efforts are made or actions taken, something will go wrong. The best solution is never perfect. So, if a problem arises, it must be corrected immediately so little or no harm will come from it. If there are ongoing doubts, it is hard to develop trust
Trust of one’s judgment and those giving advice is extremely important to the success of organizations.
That doesn’t mean that you trust blindly or do not question things about which you are unclear or may seem strange. That should always be done so there is no doubt you have all the information you need and are confident that you are making the right decisions. President Ronald Reagan, when dealing with the Soviet Union about reducing nuclear weapons, said we should “Trust, but verify”. That advice should apply to all important business decisions.
Trust is the mark of a good leader who wants his business to flourish. Being deliberative is not a lack of trust. It shows that you are not impulsive in making decisions or taking action. Impulsiveness can be as bad as not taking any action. Taking action before needed information is available can lead to very poor decisions and adverse situations.
We all make mistakes. Realizing that we do is not a sin, but it is if we allow the mistake to go on without correction. Sometimes we may take advice from too many people. In certain cultures, it is an insult to ask for advice from a friend or advisor and not take it. But what happens if there are multiple friends and each offers a different opinion? That means taking only one friend’s advice is an insult to the others. But, you certainly can’t take multiple and contradictory actions. That is insanity.
Trust and common sense have to come into play in whatever advice is considered and choices are made.
There is no harm in hearing folks out and then deciding the course of action. Try not to mix differing opinions and advice. Carefully pick what intuitively seems best and go with it. Have trust in yourself and those in whom you have confidence. There is a reason they are your “trusted advisors.”
I have worked with people who have little trust or confidence in anyone. They follow their own judgments exclusively. They may have had a bad experience and didn’t want to get burned again. Or they don’t trust people in general. Such a cynical view of people is not good. There are incompetents or scam artists who are up to no good . Individuals who have problems but have no trust or confidence in others to help improve their lot will continue to have recurring problems. They do not take advice or direction, and then wonder why they are not able to move ahead and why their problems continue.
These individuals are looking for a lucky break or some magic to fix everything. I have worked in and for many companies. I have yet to find a magic bullet or get a “lucky break”.
There is a well-known saying: “The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.” I agree. Thomas Edison had 1,000 failures before he found the correct design for the electric light bulb. Was he unlucky those previous 1,000 times or just taking steps to reach his ultimate success? He had to have trust in those working with and for him that they eventually would find the right design, which they did, of course. Without that trust, somewhere along the line, he would have given up.
Trust in business brings about many benefits.
The first involves your clients. When they know you are honest and direct with them, they will work through challenges with you. They won’t hesitate to be a reference source.
The second benefit is that collaboration will take root within your firm. Employees will trust each other to act honorably. They will fulfill their defined roles on a project assignment or company initiative according to shared company values.
The earned trust of clients and employees serves as the basis of a strong business. Make sure that such is the case with yours.