Screw Trust And You Skewer Your Future. By Eileen McDargh Saturday, 9th August 2014
The Veterans Administration and General Motors currently sit center-stage for behavior that has ruptured the trust of customers and employees, but trust breaking goes on all the time - and not just with large hide-bound bureaucracies.
A Sad, But True Story
A developer of high-end properties purchased one of the last few pieces of close-to-ocean tracts. Very expensive condos were to be built. The senior managers had made very large promises to investors about profit as well as how fast everything would happen.
The pressure was on the sales team who were busily trying to close deals with buyers.
However, floor plans kept changing, no dirt had been moved, and the so-called "view" units now faced a wall instead of the promised tree hedge.
Upgrades like automatic flush toilets were priced literally thousands of dollars more than the same toilet at a local design center.
The sales team was just as blindsided as the buyers they were trying to close. Now they faced very angry, demanding customers who wanted answers and revisions that the developer would not do. "Just deal with it" became the corporate mantra.
As for corporate reputation for future developments - forget it! And talented employees have left - either physically or mentally.
Sadly, this is but another example where greed at the "leadership level", unrealistic deadlines, and a top-down arrogance left employees frustrated and disillusioned while the customers became increasingly angry.
It does not have to be this way. But the solution requires courage and humility on the part of senior leaders.
9 Tips to Build Trust
1. Put representatives of the frontline team around the strategic-planning table from the get-go. Build in agreed-upon success goals for everyone - goals that are not just about money.
2. Create a shared vision of what success would look like.
3. Conduct a premortem as suggested by Gary Klein in "Performing a Project Premortem" in the Harvard Business Review. In launching any initiative - whether a real estate development or an internal process - bring the stakeholders together. Stakeholders are those people whose actions will most directly touch the product or the process. Have everyone jot down what could make the product or process go astray.
4. Have a candid discussion in the premortem to determine what could be done to forestall, mitigate or change something so that success is more assured.
5. Make "no surprises" the rule for anything that would impact the customer-facing employees. Don’t let your frontline face the barrage from customers or clients.
6. Under promise and over deliver. Whether selling condos or consulting, it is over-delivery that creates raving fans. The same dictum holds true with investors. Making grand promises might sound great at the get–go but unless you are very confident in the outcome, it will haunt you.
7. Communicate without ceasing. Seek out the employees closest to the customer. Ask for AND listen to their ideas and input. Put the ideas into action and if it cannot be done, let everyone know why.
8. Make company heroes of employees for being both ambassadors for the company AND advocates for the customer.
9. Insist on respectful conversation from everyone. The paradox - customers are not always right. No employee should take verbal abuse from anyone. Stand up for them and they will stand out for you!
Seems like such common sense. Then again, common sense is not always that common. Eileen McDargh is a Hall of Fame professional speaker, management consultant, resiliency expert and top thought-leader in leadership. Visit The Resiliency Group website at www.eileenmcdargh.com to get her free quarterly e-zine, read her blog and articles. Discover why hundreds of satisfied clients from all over the globe hire Eileen to keynote at their meetings and facilitate their retreats.
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