Tomorrow I will be driving to Romford to buy a second hand car. Without any knowledge of the dealer I am visiting, my level of trust is at a low, after all the industry has an unenviable reputation for sharp dealing. As a consequence, I will want to double check everything the salesperson says, I will probably feel the price is over-inflated and try to haggle over the price. I will be looking for the problems in the deal and if I’m looking, I’ll probably find some. Most likely the dealer is so used to being mistrusted and beaten down on price that they need to get ready to drive a hard bargain.
Now imagine this dealer is a personal friend, I trust them totally. The sale will go quicker, we will probably agree a fair price. My friend makes their money quickly, I get my car quickly.
A series of writers and thinkers are now pointing out the effect of trust on the bottom line of a business. Stephen Covey Jnr has written the ‘Speed of Trust’, John Haylock writes on a similar theme with ‘Absolute Certainty’.
The effect is not simply a function of the effect between a business and its customers, although many of the most profitable businesses on the planet are utterly trusted for what they do. The effect is also a function of the internal workings of a business.
Do you trust your employees? Do they trust you? If not, how much extra work, hassle and general wasted energy does that create? Most of us have had the experience of jobs in work places where trust is at a low. Management suggestions for improvement are received with cynicism, workers best efforts are dismissed. One sign of organisations where trust has broken down is the proliferation of rules, reporting and extra work that delivers little or no value to the customer.
The criticism of a trusting approach to business centres on the risk to the business from a rose-tinted view of human nature. However both Stephen Covey and John Haylock’s books are backed up by impressive data and show the effect on profit of this approach.
In the face of these statistics one must ask whether we can, in fact, risk ignoring the value of trust. Indeed it seems like the prudent approach to business is to build trust.
This then begs the question ‘How can I start building trust in my business?’. Common sense tells us that a ‘laisez faire’ attitude is unlikely to produce the desired result. Both books already mentioned set out practical steps to start creating the precious commodity of trust in what we do.