Whatever your role, you’re the face of the company – a living embodiment of the brand and its values. This puts you in a unique position.
You may already have or can build close relationships with your internal or external clients and you will also understand the differing needs of your customers. By having trust, a good relationship and understanding customer needs, you become a trusted adviser.
Where does trust come from? Partly experience. When you’ve worked with someone over a period of time, or done business with them for a while, you know whether you can trust them or not. But when you meet someone for the first time you have no idea whether they’re trustworthy. So you rely on intuition, on ‘gut feeling’. That’s not hugely scientific, so David Maister developed the Trust equation. The Trust Equation uses four objective variables to measure trustworthiness. These four variables are best described as: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy and Self-Interest.
When you represent a sector-leading organisation you’ll be credible as a result of its reputation or brand. This, however, will only go so far. People buy people, not organisations. They’ll want to feel you’re credible as an individual too. That comes from how you carry yourself and what you say. Do you seem confident? Do you speak with conviction? What experience do you have? Establishing your credibility is crucial if you’re to get people to trust you.
Always deliver what you promise. If you don’t follow through on a commitment or meet a deadline, the trust people have in you will quickly evaporate. Managing expectations is also critical. If the situation changes and you can’t deliver on your promise, make sure to let others know.
‘Intimacy’ is about how comfortable people feel around you. Are you just going through the motions or are you a living, breathing human being? Do you make the relationship important, not just the task? You can build intimacy by sharing your thoughts and emotions. That will encourage others to do the same.
You can be credible, reliable and intimate but if it’s obvious you only have your own interests at heart people will see through the charade. While they’ll expect you to gain some benefit in a relationship, you’ll be able to influence them more if they believe you’re focused on their interests and what matters to them as well as your own.
Whatever your position in your company, being trusted by those you work with can be an advantage. Take some time to review your relationships and the level of trust you feel your customers would have in you. What can you do today to improve it?