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    The Trust Edge Blog

    Wednesday
    Feb042015

    Prioritize to Be Most Effective | Trust in Business

     

    While I agree with Ben Franklin’s idea, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” countless companies have wasted time and money on strategic plans that are collecting dust. People spend lots of time planning but very little time turning those plans into daily actionable tasks. Some suggest that putting your goal in the mirror so you see it every day will make it come true. I would suggest that your mission statement belongs on your mirror, and your goals and tasks associated with achieving your mission are meant for action. Daily clarity leads to accomplishing the most important things every day. Difference Making Actions (DMAs) are the best way I have found to be clear on a daily basis. They will keep you from having a day where you feel like you are busy but getting nothing done. The following idea comes from Charles Schwab, the first American to be paid a million dollar salary.

    In the early 1900s, Schwab was President of the Bethlehem Steel Company. The small steel company was struggling. A business consultant named Ivy Lee told Schwab that he could share in 15 minutes a strategy with Schwab’s managers that would double productivity. When Schwab inquired about the price for the help, Lee said, “After using it for six months, you can pay me what you think its worth.”

    Here’s what Ivy Lee told Charles Schwab and his managers: “Every night, at the end of each day, write down the six most important things that need to get done the next day. Write only six, no more. Prioritize them with number one being the most important. In the morning, start with number one and do only number one until it is completed. Do not go on to number 2 until number one is completed. When number one is completed go on to number 2, then do only number 2 until it is completed. And so on. If you get done with all of them you can start a new list.”

    Only a few months passed when Mr. Lee received a letter from the Bethlehem Steel Company. Inside the envelope, Mr. Lee found a check in the amount of $25,000 ($250,000 in today’s dollars) and a note from Schwab saying the lesson was the most profitable he had ever learned. The voluntary payment to Mr. Lee was quite a bargain considering that Bethlehem Steel went on to become one of the giants in the steel industry and one of the most successful corporations in U.S. history.

    How to Implement the DMA Strategy:

    1. First thing every morning, take a sticky note.
    2. At the top write your most important current goal.
    3. Then write the numbers 1-5 down the page.
    4. Next to the 1, write the most important thing you could do today to accomplish that goal. Then write the next most important things under 2, 3, 4 and 5.
    Wednesday
    Jan142015

    Trust is a Business Asset | Trust in Business

    The impact of trust on the economy can be witnessed at the corporate level. Bear Stearns, AIG, and Lehman Brothers were at one time considered trust-based businesses. Each of these companies relied on the trust of the market to establish the firm’s value. As trust goes down, value goes down. For instance, the $236 million purchase proposal for Bear Stearns by JP Morgan Chase came just hours after Bear Stearns’ market capitalization was $3 billion. Interestingly, just over a year ago that market cap was $20 billion. As trust in the market tanks, so does the value of the business.

    Bill Otis, former Chief of the Appellate Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, offered this analysis: “Our ability to bail our way out of this recession is extremely limited, because, even if they worked and could be paid for, bailouts and government spending generally fail to address the fundamental problem at the heart of our difficulties. The fundamental problem is not liquidity or even solvency. It is trust—or more correctly, the lack of trust—that has spawned the breakdown in the credit markets. The lack of trust cannot be remedied with money. It can only be remedied with that which creates trust.”

    Though our trust has been shaken in America during this economic crisis, we still enjoy a level of trust that is not enjoyed in all parts of the world. A business professor and friend of mine, Leo Gabriel, was asked by a native of a small war-torn, developing country, “Why does capitalism work in America and not here?” Gabriel said, “Because, generally, we can assume trust in our economic system.” In America we can go online, order a product, and assume it will be shipped. The retailer can generally assume that he will be paid. Without trust there cannot be economic activity. You must be able to put trust in your cash, check, or credit to have value and be good. A retailer must know that the product or service will be delivered from the supplier as expected. With greater trust comes greater economic activity and a better form of capitalism. 

    Image courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/8474532085

    Wednesday
    Jan072015

    How to Improve Conference Calls | Trust in Business

    Have you noticed that the further from face-to-face we get the more challenging it is to build trust? Here's a favorite from 2014 that illustrates.

    Tips for improved productivity and trust with your calls:

    • Consider if it'd be more efficient to use group emailing or video-conferencing instead.
    • Use a reliable system, like your phone company's service or freeconferencecall.com.
    • Test the connection with a colleague prior to the scheduled meeting time.
    • Record the call so anyone that experience techical difficulties can listen to the part they missed while not slowing down the rest.
    • If it's a longer call, have someone take bullet-pointed notes to email to everyone after the call is over.
    • At the beginning of the call, try to make quick introductions, if possible.
    • Email an agenda so others know what to expect or to bring clarity for yourself. 
    • Keep each part of the call as short as possible.
    • Pause occasionally and ask if everyone is on the same page.
    • Remember to use the mute button while making excess noise.
    • Avoid speaker phone to avoid extra noice to the others.
    • Think about getting a headset, so you can use your hands to type or write notes.
    • Create a questions section so you don't interrupt flow but also don't forget important point of clarification.
    • Wrap-up the call with a summary and assignments for the next steps.
    Thursday
    Jan012015

    Being Clear With Expectations | Trust in Business

     

    Few things are as frustrating as working for a manager who gives you an annual review and tells you all the things she thinks you should have been doing during the past year. How is this information helpful now? The year is over. Why weren’t these expectations expressed earlier? If you are a parent, you know how important it is to communicate expectations with your child. So often, a clear communication of expectations will prevent both misbehavior and failure. 

    As little sense as it makes, I hear about similar situations all the time. Supervisors need to be clear about their expectations. This is true in my own company. When I’m specific with my requests about what I want, I almost always receive what I asked for. When I’m vague in my requests, I typically receive something other than what I had in mind.

    If you’re in charge of leading your group or even a company, consider whether you’re communicating specific expectations effectively. Of course, micromanagement is a supreme trust killer, not to mention a spectacular waste of time. But in most cases, if you are clear about the outcome in mind, it will get done, sometimes even beyond your expectations. 

    My new marketing director was feeling overwhelmed and losing motivation. I could see it. When I inquired, she said she felt like there was so much to do but didn’t know what to do first. Once we clarified priorities and expectations, her motivation, effectiveness, and enthusiasm returned. As her leader, helping her work through this was my responsibility. 

    If you work for someone who is vague about what they want, spend a few minutes talking with him or her about your work. Find out expectations, including the appropriate deadlines and priorities. If it isn’t possible to finish everything on your plate at once, figure out what’s most important. You’ll foster greater trust and a more productive workplace at the same time. Visit us at www.TheTrustEdge.comto learn more about leadership, trust, and productivity.

    Photo courtesy of: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2F6%2F64%2FBundesarchiv_Bild_183-G0925-0036-001%2C_Chemiefaserwerk_Guben%2C_Meister_der_Zentralwerkstatt.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FApprenticeship&h=603&w=800&tbnid=tmlr9nrRKUCPDM%3A&zoom=1&docid=Wf-9YcHeCwIvQM&ei=QZyZVKqwFpOTyAT-l4CYAw&tbm=isch&ved=0CB8QMygBMAE&iact=rc&uact=3&dur=325&page=1&start=0&ndsp=19

    Wednesday
    Dec172014

    Insincere Apologies are Trust Killers | Trust in Leadership

     

    I had a chance to sit down with the CEO of Compass Strategic Investments. For six months, he lived and worked in the Netherlands, so he had some cultural observations to share. One of the distinctions that he noticed was that Americans often make insincere apologies. When it comes to building trust, being able to say we’re sorry and doing it sincerely is an important skill. However insincere apologies, those made out of habit or indifference, are trust killers. 

    Expressing remorse without any real intent to change comes off as insulting or dismissive, like someone who always comes late to a meeting and says, “I’m sorry I’m late.” The likely truth is she never really intended to be on time. No one believes her apology, and so she is not trusted. 
    Do you mean what you say? Whether it is “I am sorry” or, “I will get back to you ASAP,” if you can’t follow through, don’t say it. Make sure you return calls when you say you will and deliver when you say you will. If your intent is good, your words will mean something and you won’t have to apologize very often. It’s like a mother who says “No” to her child at the candy counter repeatedly with ever increasing volume and intensity. Because the mother has given in to her child’s badgering in the past, the child does not trust that Mom means what she says.

    The problem also happens when people apologize even though they are not really sorry for what they did. They are only sorry that they got caught. Learning to apologize is only part of it. Doing it sincerely and with genuine intentions is the real test. The next time you feel an apology is in order, ask yourself, Am I sorry to the degree that I am genuinely going to try to make sure it does not happen again? Do I really mean it? Of course it is important to apologize, but so is the action that shows you meant it. Those who only need to apologize occasionally, and do it sincerely, will be trusted.

    Picture courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/25792994@N04/5667529239

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