In business, trust is the key
- Article by: HARVEY MACKAY
- March 2, 2009 - 4:14 PM
Trust is the most important word in business. Trust is central to doing business. Without it, you have another word that begins with T: trouble.
Unfortunately, trust in business plummeted worldwide last year, according to an Edelman survey released in late January. The public relations firm found that just 38 percent of respondents age 35 to 64 said they trusted business, down from 58 percent a year earlier -- the lowest rating in the survey's 10-year history.
I find this especially troubling. In my business, there is nothing more important than trust, although I would list likability, people skills and chemistry close behind.
I've always believed that telling the truth is the best policy. In business, especially today, it's a must. A few years back, the Forum Corp. of Boston studied 341 salespeople from 11 companies in five industries. Their purpose was to determine what separated top from average producers. When the study was finished, the results were startling. It was not skill, knowledge or charisma that divided the pack. The difference came down to one trait: honesty. When customers trust salespeople, they buy from them!
At my company, we don't tolerate anything less than honest negotiations and delivery guarantees. An envelope is a standard commodity; scores of companies probably can duplicate our products. But our customers know we'll do what we promise and try to deliver even more. They've even occasionally forgiven us for an honest mistake because they know we'll make good on our word.
When bailouts, bankruptcies and corporate scandals erupt and occupy the front pages for months on end, people tend to mistrust all of corporate America. That's not fair, but something of a natural reaction.
When people get in trouble, what do they typically do? They consult someone they already know and trust. That's a poor time to look for help. How can you depend on someone you've known for half an hour? I would rather rely on someone I know I can count on, even if his or her experience is limited, than start from scratch. That person can usually lead you to someone who can help you if different skills are necessary.
Trust is key.
When trust exists in an organization or in a relationship, almost everything else is easier and more comfortable to achieve. Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time.
Trust is telling the truth, even when it is difficult, and being truthful and trustworthy in your dealings with customers and staff. People do not or cannot trust one another if they are easily suspicious of one another. Trust involves being optimistic rather than pessimistic. When we trust people, we are optimistic not only that they are competent to do what we trust them to do but also that they are committed to doing it.
Mackay's Moral: It takes years to build up trust, but only seconds to destroy it.
© 2013 Star Tribune