Trust

Trust intersects three factors: reciprocity, competence, and reliability. Reciprocity means the relationship is a two-way street: both parties are better off.

The single most important thing you need to know about trust is reciprocity, which will make or break your small business or solo practice.

Suppose you are like many small business CEOs and have frustrations with employee disengagement and turnover, lack of buy-in, and poor accountability. In that case, you probably have a low-trust workplace that’s damaging your profitability, sustainability, and peace of mind.

“Compared with people at low-trust companies,” a study in Harvard Business Review reports, “people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.”

trust

How would you feel having fifty percent higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and tremendous energy?

For solo practitioners, common objections from your prospects, such as lack of time, money, or need, are reflections of a trust deficit. Your prospective clients ask themselves, “do I feel safe, will the support be helpful, is the juice worth the squeeze?”  Competence is the ability to do your job to the required standards, and reliability is that you will do what you say you will do.

Competence is the ability to do your job to the required standards, and reliability is that you will do what you say you will do.

You need all three in place to have a trusting relationship. Without reciprocity, you have one party taking advantage of the other. Lack of competence means underperformance, and poor reliability creates inconsistency.

The element most often missing in low-trust situations is reciprocity.

I spoke with a company executive who complained that she did not have the budget for leadership training and that the CEO wouldn’t reallocate any money.

She’s facing workplace burnout, employee turnover, and presentism — where people are (or appear to be) physically present but are unengaged and unproductive. Helping her direct reports become better leaders would alleviate these problems and allow her to focus on growth and innovation rather than getting stuck in failure work and dispute resolution.

These problems are costing the company millions.

She’s facing workplace burnout, employee turnover, and presentism — where people are (or appear to be) physically present but are unengaged and unproductive. Helping her direct reports become better leaders would alleviate these problems and allow her to focus on growth and innovation rather than getting stuck in failure work and dispute resolution.

These problems are costing the company millions.

The CEO makes $20 million annually; the next highest-paid person makes a fraction. He could reallocate .01 percent of his annual salary to develop key subordinates and see a 10:1 return on investment or higher payoff for the company.

The problem, of course, is that the CEO has little incentive to improve things. He’ll get a massive payout even if he’s fired for underperforming. Burnout, turnover, and presentism are symptoms of an overall lack of trust within the company.

The senior leaders are violating the gardener’s principle: the responsibility to provide the cultivation so that the best version of each person blooms.

Gardner’s till the soil and feed the plants to stimulate growth. They prune away anything preventing the plant from being its best self. They do not try to turn one vegetable into another.

When you cultivate your employees to become their best selves, they’ll respond by contributing their best to your company’s success.

The employees at this company, I’m told, see the vast discrepancies in salary and unwillingness to invest in them. The relationship seems one way.

The employees thus treat the company as a commodity — a bargaining chip to a better-paying job at a different company.

The gardener’s principle works for solo practitioners, too. When you show how you help your clients achieve their dreams and be the heroes of their own stories, they’ll drop the money, time, and need objections.

Solopreneurs:

There’s still time to register for Joyful Sales Conversations, where I’ll show you how to put the gardener’s principle into action. When you create trust, you will transform your business.

June 17th & 28th 11:00 – 11:30 am US Central (plus 30-minutes for Q&A afterward)
REGISTER HERE







Leaders can do better than use proximity to make judgments about value, issue veiled threats, and come up with arbitrary rules that will waste time and energy in the monitoring.

CEOs are struggling with their return to the office policies. Employees “who are least engaged,” WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani told The Wall Street Journal, “are very comfortable working from home.” 

Cathy Merrill, the chief executive of Washingtonian Media, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post warning employees about the risks of not returning to the office. “The hardest people to let go are the ones you know.” Her employees staged a work-stoppage.

A friend who works in the high-tech industry stated that their company will use a 75-25 rule: employees need to spend 75 percent of their time in the office and work from anywhere for the remainder.

Leaders can do better than use proximity to make judgments about value, issue veiled threats, and come up with arbitrary rules that will waste time and energy in the monitoring.

Here’s a better way.

There are plenty of jobs that are done mostly in isolation, such as research-oriented work. Other jobs, like manufacturing, need to be performed in person.

Companies also have roles in which employees perform recurring tasks: assembly-line work, IT monitoring, coordinating activities, and the like. You also have to handle non-routine requirements, including innovation, crisis management, and product development.

When you put these variables together in a quad-chart, you get a better way to organize your return-to-office requirements. 

Recurring work that employees can do in isolation are prime candidates for very permissive work-from-home arrangements. 

Roles that require innovative work that employees can perform in isolation should have permissive arrangements, too, but less so than the former because the free exchange of ideas improves quality and reduces the risk of science projects taking on lives of their own.

By contrast, innovative roles requiring substantial collaboration should probably be performed more at the office than elsewhere.

Recurring, on-site roles often require the highest in-office frequency. 

Apply a commonsense method like this one, and you’ll boost productivity, retain your top talent, and make smart choices about office space.

P.S. How action-oriented are your company’s values? Slogans mostly create cynicism. Actionable values boost accountability for employees doing what’s right, the right way, without you having to watch.

I’m teaming up with leadership expert Jan Rutherford on June 2 at 1 pm US Central time to offer you a Values Do-in-Ar. Inc magazine recognized Jan as one of America’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers. 

You will come away from this Do-in-ar with action-oriented, accountability-inspiring values that enhance your company’s performance, reputation, and well-being.

To get your invitation, please donate to your favorite charity and let me know that you’ve done so (I work on the honor system).

I’ve just donated to the Milwaukee War Memorial, which is holding a special event in honor of Memorial Day.

I chuckle every time I meet a science-defying person on the sidewalk who hurriedly pulls up their mask when approaching and pushes it down after we pass. 

The probability of catching COVID while passing someone on the sidewalk is equivalent to being killed by a lightning strike. Over a year into the pandemic, this behavior reflects virtue-signaling rather than values. 

Virtue-signalling, like the facades on a Saddam Hussein palace, obscures the realities within. CEO hang-wringing apologia about diversity last year often resulted in no follow-through or change. Harvard business review articles show that most diversity training makes things worse. Still, CEOs throw money at the failed approaches. Plato described the behavior as “seeming over being.” 

You want values that work, and you want what you value to be working. 

Business values are behavioral norms that guide your profitable customer-centric solutions. Some are internal-facing, oriented on how people work together, while others are external-facing to expand your base of loyal customers. The true tests of your values are whether they are profitable for your business, your employees, and your customers. 

If your values set specific behavioral norms that lead to profitable customer-centric solutions, you are going to gain delightful customers and attract employees who will do what’s right, the right way, without you having to micro-manage. Vague values, on the other hand, are slogans that create cynicism. 

The vital step is to set business values that work. To help you do so, I’m hosting the “Never Suffer from Vague Values Again” do-in-ar with leadership expert Jan Rutherford on June 2 at 1:00 pm US Central. 

You’ll come away from the event knowing precisely how to set values that are the right fit for your business.

Here’s the game-plan: 20 minutes of format with Jan; 20 minutes working on your values assignment; 20 minutes of advice and support from Jan and me.

To get the meeting link, please donate to your favorite charity and email me ([email protected]) to me know you’ve done so (I use the honor system, so your word is good enough).

P.S. VALUE-ADDING Leadership(TM) is a master program for leaders and entrepreneurs who want to inspire people to contribute their best and drive the business to new heights. The next program begins in mid-May. More here.