I arrived early at a restaurant for a meeting and overheard a discussion while waiting for the others to arrive. Here is an excerpt from their conversation that resonated with me.
They don’t get it! They are oblivious to the fact that no one trusts their team. I mean they claim to be transparent but when we need information from them, need have to search for it ourselves. I think it is short sighted on their behalf when they watch me search, even if we ask them for help and they don’t help. Then when we find the information that we need, they claim that they are being transparent with us. Yeah right!!
I discussed this behavior with a colleague and he was familiar with the behavior that was being discussed above. He labeled it as “discovery driven disclosure”. He also mentioned that he had experience with behavior in the past and it had been really difficult to partner with that team because their behavior undermined trust. As a result, the teams spent a lot of time questioning each other and not so much time collaborating which impacted their ability to successfully deliver a solution.
The comments and followup discussion got me thinking about Trust.
Trust is the basis of all relationships, both personal and professional. We all establish trust with others in our own manner. We also have our own starting expectations for others when it comes to us trusting them. Some of us will trust others with little evidence, giving them the benefit and assuming positive intent. Others expect the trust to be earned and start off with a much lower level of trust.
Building on this starting point for trust, let’s look at some of the other elements that influence how we establish trust. The first one, is how the role that we perform affects the trust level. We all tend to trust people that have “earned” a higher standing. For example, we expect the chef at a fine restaurant will use fresh ingredients and work in a pristine kitchen when they prepare our food. If that chef is from a Michelin 3 star rated restaurant, then the expectations will be even higher.
The final and most important element is the impact of our actions. Therefore we need to be conscious of the impact of our actions or inactions on our trust level. Be careful of disingenuous behavior, disrespecting others, selfish behavior and of course lack of disclosure or transparency because these behaviors will impact our trust level negatively..
Pulling it together
To help illustrate how all of these areas relate to each other and how they impact the level of trust, here is a formula to help quantify the trust level.
a – Starting Expectations
b – Role
c – Actions
To use the formula, each of these variables needs to be assigned a number of between 0 and 5, with 5 being the highest rating. Now just rate each of the elements and then total up the numbers. This will provide you with a qualitative trust rating. Having some of your customers, partners or employees provide you with their ratings, can be an eye-opening experience.
Regarding the evaluation of the total value. This will be unique to you and you will need to determine what numbers you are comfortable with. For me personally, the number needs to be above 10. I also use the formula by assuming positive intent and therefore if I have not seen any actions or behaviors, I assign either a 4 or 5 and then evaluate again when I have more data. Using the graphic below, the red area is the high risk area while the green is the safer area, naturally with the ideal being a perfect score.
I finish this post with a quote a Robin Sharma book: Leadership Wisdom from the Monk who sold his Ferrari.
Being open and truthful also means that you take care of the little issues and skirmishes that come up every day before they escalate into full-blown wars.