Employee trust. Two simple words, yet incredibly complex.
"There's an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt."
–Maya Angelou, American poet and philosopher
Trust. Simple word and an incredibly complex matter. I have a fundamental belief that the single most important underpinning in any long-term, successful relationship is trust. Consistently exhibiting the qualities of being trustworthy is a journey with countless intersections that, if relegated to a low priority status, can completely derail a lifetime of good will. And, as trust grows in a relationship, so too does the value exchange between the parties.
Over the years I've had the privilege of working with the remarkable team of Don Peppers and Martha Rogers. Founders of a premier global consultancy and authors a series of business books translated into 17 languages. Their book Extreme Trust provides an engaging, thought -provoking perspective on "Turning Proactive Honesty and Flawless Execution into Long-Term Profits". The book presents the pillars of what they call "trustabilty":
- Do things right: exhibit competency and make it easy for your customers to do business with you.
- Do the right thing: make sure your company's values are in the best interest of your customers' needs.
- Be proactive: bring good news quickly and bad news even faster. A trusting relationship allows for mistakes. But only if addressed immediately…and honestly.
- Be transparent: organizational transparency is conditionally the opposite of secrecy. Secrecy is deliberately hiding your actions while transparency is deliberately revealing them.
Instilling the disciplines of trust in all interactions with colleagues and customers alike creates long-term value by earning trust and confidence versus going for the short-term sales bump. It's a balancing act of aligning customers' interests and needs with the mandate to achieve financial objectives.
This past month has brought a flurry of news around the erosion of trust with one of the biggest brands on planet Earth. A social media giant is openly acknowledging a breach of trust with their users' data that cost the company $45B in stock value. In one day. And the loss in share value is just the beginning. The reluctance to do things right (protecting user data), not doing the right things (placing revenue before the most fundamental rights of privacy), a lack of proactively admitting to the breach along with a complacency for transparency will follow this brand for a long time. Just ask the exodus of advertisers and growing legion of former users.
The day following the debacle, a British bank that caused "billions in losses" to investors by engaging in a "fraudulent scheme" by deceptively packaging mortgage backed securities. They have agreed to pay a $2B fine for untrustworthy act.
So it's not simply being a trustable company that will, over time, create sustainable value. It's about the abject erosion of value in the absence of trust. Companies can succeed by delivering on what they say they'll do. But a trustable company will balance their customers' interest with their own corporate values.
Most all of us are given 5 bodily senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. Not to be overlooked are the senses of our souls: intuition, peace, foresight, trust, and empathy. We're all fairly skilled at understanding how best to use our bodily senses but I for one could benefit by sharpening and developing my inner senses. I intend to work on that. Trust me.
"Few delights can equal the mere presence of one whom we trust utterly."
–George MacDonald, noted author and poet.