“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principal that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey
Today, we are all witnessing a great crisis regarding Trust. This variation impacts all of us at work, family, with friends, within governmental institutions and across cultures. Many corporations, companies, associations and universities are working on elaborated strategies and execution plans attempting to achieve great outcomes. Often these strategies, despite the considerable efforts and resources behind, turn into failures or insufficient results. Additional efforts are again engaged to search for deviations while the only deviation in most cases is the lack of TRUST.
Unfortunately, it’s not our behavior that affects TRUST but mainly the way it is interpreted by others. We can have control on our behaviors and our intentions but we cannot control people’s misunderstanding and then bad interpretations. When you trust someone-friend, colleague, or a boss, he does not need further explanations even when the message is not clear. However, when you don’t trust the person, despite the clarity of the message, there are great chances of misinterpretations and doubt. There is nothing that functions without TRUST. Try to name one single relationship that functions without trust-friendship, partnership, marriage and so on. Many researches and studies proved that our level of trust is very low compared to other countries.
The African continent has a level of 18% of trust compared to 60% in the Anglo-Saxon countries. Is it a coincidence? An error in their evaluations? We are getting more and more insurance companies, regulations, forms, sanctions. Do you think they all have a correlation with trust?
I always wondered why we tend to focus more on strategies, pre-defined plans rather than building TRUST. We spend a lot of money on market research, marketing campaigns, corporate social activities for brand image and not on new means of building or restructuring trust within organizations. Here remains the big challenge!
I always considered trust as something invisible; something either we feel or not. I did not know that we can MEASURE trust until I read the book “The Power of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey. Trust, according to him, can be measured and quantified; trust can affects speed and cost. When trust is low, the speed of getting things decreases and the cost increases. When trust is high, the speed increases and the cost decreases. Think about the aspect of cheating in universities or in institutions; when trust is affected, the speed of getting the students into their classes may be low and the cost increases as they need more teachers to supervise. When trust is dominant, in some cases, the speed will increase tremendously with no cost involved.
I worked in the telecom industry for many years; it was obvious to define an annual budget for all our marketing campaigns and related expenses for an enhanced visibility and cost control. In another context, this exercise did not look that simple. I had to define a budget for every single campaign or event, wait for an approval from the stakeholders, and then execute. The process of approval was long, and then the cost was higher as I had to negotiate for single units with no annual consideration. We always end up spending more money for fewer activities because of trust across cultures and long distance communication.
Who is responsible in this case? The stakeholders or the marketing manager? This reconfirms the approach of Stephen Covey. Trust is the parameter that changes everything. It is a great source of motivation and inspiration that many decision makers still ignore. It is the best way to build great relations and tangible results. What about you? Who do you trust? Why do you trust them?
There is nothing faster than then the speed of trust. There is nothing more fulfilling than a trustful relationship. There is nothing more inspiring than the trust granted by others. There is nothing more attractive than a reliable reputation.
High or low, trust is the hidden variable that can contribute to the success of the company. When strategy is multiplied by execution, then it equals results but trust is not considered in this equation. You can have a great strategy and well planned execution, but we can always get bad results because of a low level of trust.
In many cases, TRUST depends on two main aspects: personality traits and competencies. The first aspect encompasses integrity, motivation, and the intention. Competencies cover the person’s capacities, expertise, and the results. You can be convinced that one of your team is honest and sincere but if he does not generate the expected results, then TRUST is affected. All our relations are based on trust and can be destroyed by a biased trust.
In this case can we rebuild trust when everything goes wrong? Can we restructure relations when betrayal has taken place? Are we able to give new chances to others to create a new identity and a new brand?
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway
I always believe that in order to get new chances from others to rebuild trust from personal or professional perspectives, we need also to give others the same chances. It’s better to trust and be deceived than to trust no one as it may costly too. Trust can be recovered and even increased but here I personally will add a new variable related to the country and the culture. In order to restore trust in any relationship, we need to understand how trust has been lost. Violations related to integrity are more difficult to restore than other violations like insufficient results.
Trust is the essence of a successful relation or collaboration. It is the basic element we need to rely on before jumping into strategies and execution plans. It is hard to build and very easy to lose. Rebuilding trust may take time or it may remain a myth as we will never be able to control other intentions and interpretations despite a great personal goodwill. But it always deserves a new try!