Are You Being Duped?

Trust. Forbes calls it the most valuable business commodity and Fortune calls it the most powerful currency in business. For me that suggests there’s nothing more important, not only to strive for, but to expect in your business. When it comes to trust and ethical behavior, again according to Fortune, “there are no shortcuts-you either do the right thing, or you don’t.”

Has anyone ever done anything to violate your trust, either in your business or personally?

Trust in our world is waning. A Gallup poll indicates that in 1976, trust in media was at 76 percent. Currently, however, it sits at a mere 32 percent. That’s quite the drop in a short 40 years! There was a similar drop when trust in organizational communications for employees was polled. It begs the question: How do we build trust in a very trust-deficient world?

Trust expert, Deborah Nixon, suggests that in order to build trust, a person (or business) must implement and practice The 5 C’s. She says they should be lived, breathed and acted out on a daily basis.

  1. Commitments. Keep them.
  2. Candor. Be open, honest and sincere.
  3. Consistent behavior and actions. Follow through, keep your promises.
  4. Care for others. Show kindness and concern.
  5. Credibility. Be trustworthy and believable.

Jack Welch, retired American business executive and former CEO of General Electric, uses only one rule of thumb: “Can you look in the mirror in the morning and be proud of what you’re doing?” This mantra, he believes, has helped drive his business to the success that it is today.

So, how do you assure your company, and those in it, are on the up and up? Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way to learn if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Does this mean jumping in both feet first, blindly holding onto hope that your business associate, or the new employee, or even the CEO, is trustworthy?

Not necessarily. I had the great misfortune of placing too much trust in someone, simply because we attended the same church. That “blind trust” led me to do my due diligence on a project he wanted me to invest in versus in him personally. I invested, as did a close friend and his family. Collectively we lost $350,000 in an oil well re-entry project that was a very solid investment, had all of the funds made it into the project versus into his pocket.

How do you protect your business from becoming the victim while exercising trust in others? Glenn Llopis, serial entrepreneur and Forbes contributor, suggests six ways to determine if a boss, or colleague, can be trusted:

  1. Transparent Communicator - Is this person safe to open up with, bounce ideas off with? Is there open dialogue and active listening?

  2. Embraces Unconditional Feedback - Does this person take feedback without taking offense? Are there ranks and titles thrown out to hold over another, or rather, is there mutual desire to work toward the same goal in growing the company?

  3. Empowers People - Are employees encouraged to take risks? Are they then judged because of their successes or failings? Trustworthy leaders will offer good coaching, but also encourage you to develop your own identity in the workplace.

  4. Focuses on Creating Leaders, not Followers - In line with empowering, a trustworthy leader will not be threatened by the success of their employees, in fact, they will encourage it, applaud it, see the talent and potential and cheer you along the path to success.

  5. They Invest in the Relationship - If you have made it through the first four steps, it is clear this is a trusted, invested relationship. From here, you can rest assured that the employee/boss has your back should the going get rough. Frequent interaction and transparent business-based conversations help promote this type of relationship.

  6. Consistent Behavior - How consistent is he/she thus far on the previous points? If consistent, it’s clear why others naturally gravitate toward that individual. If the steps have been attained, the relationship will then become natural and the real work of building your business together can truly begin.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to get back to the days of sealing a business deal with a handshake rather than a 20-page sign-on-the-dotted-line document? Those days may be long-gone, sadly, but building trusting relationships within the workforce is not only possible in today’s world, but necessary for the success of any business.

Let me Know: What situations have you been in where trust in the workforce has been violated and how did you deal with it? In what ways can you build trust within your team?

Written by Mike Williams

I am a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business experience. My goal with this blog is to pass on some of what I have learned in order to help you achieve success in business.

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