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What Makes a Successful Business?

After many years of blogging, I was really struggling today to think about something new to say that would be useful, or interesting. 

I was at the point of giving up when I took 10 minutes to wander up the field to see my horses. It was there that Talulah, my 22-month-old filly provided the inspiration I needed. She reminded me that, whilst we can learn better ways to manage people, customers and situations, success mostly comes down to one single thing – Trust. 

If employees don’t trust their leader, how successful is that leader likely to be, really? How can they hope to inspire their team and get them engaged in delivering great results? 

And what about the other way round? If leaders don’t trust their people, how likely are they to go the extra mile? To go out on a limb, when going out on a limb inevitably involves some sort of risk? How likely are they to share the ideas and insights that could make a real difference if they suspect the leader will take all the credit?

If customers don’t trust the organisation, how likely are they to buy from it? Or use it a second, third or fourth time? 

And if the organisation doesn’t trust its customer, how likely is it to be able to provide a service that’s tailored to that individual’s specific needs?

Trust is the foundation of every process we teach; whether it’s holding difficult conversations, developing an innovative team, implementing change or performance appraisal. It doesn’t matter how great the ‘process’ is; it simply won’t work effectively unless that foundation is in place. 

What Talulah did to remind me of the importance of trust was a simple thing; she let me sit with her in her field and fuss her. It doesn’t sound like much, but a horse feels vulnerable laying down; their instinct is always to stand and face danger. The fact she didn’t get up, was her way of telling me, “I trust you.” It reminded me that all the great progress we’ve made since she arrived at our home eight weeks ago is down to the trust we’ve established.

The existence of trust isn’t always that easy to see; it’s often much easier to see an absence of trust. Conflict in the workplace, mistakes that are hidden, people going to extraordinary lengths to create a paper trail to cover their backs, dishonesty about the reasons for absence, manipulation of data, second guessing people’s motives, lack of communication …. The list goes on and on. 

An absence of trust can materialise in a myriad of different ways. And perhaps the saddest thing of all is that those behaviours we adopt when trust is missing inevitably increase the problem, fuelling a downward spiral of mistrust. Once trust is lost, it can be incredibly difficult, and sometimes impossible, to regain.

But there are things we can do to create more trusting environments at work and to prevent the erosion of trust in the first place. Having a clear set of ethical standards that you apply to yourself as much as others will help, as well as being open and curious about other people’s experiences, feelings and needs. So will being willing to share your own feelings openly and honestly and attempting always, to act with authenticity.

If you want to develop trust in the workplace, you might also be interested in some of the following Trainers’ Library activities:

** - Remote delivery versions available.

Until next time…

March 7 2023Rod Webb

Rod Webb

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