How to restore lost trust

To build trust it could take years, to destroy it you need just few seconds.

The trust is like a plant, you need to take care of it, you need to feed it, to give water and minerals and so on. But when a plant is suffering it takes a lot of time to restore it to the original splendor.

The same is valid with our relationships and the trust that we create with them.

Here is an hit parade of how to restore a lost trust (from position 10 to 1):

10. Set an example,every single day

9. Be competent, committed and act with integrity in your business

8. Be aware of stakeholders’ requirements

7. Make your own position clear: “walk the talk”

6. Build and cultivate long-term relations

5. Accept and admit mistakes

4. Have consideration for and respect partners, competitors, stakeholders

3. Accept controlling and feedback as necessary control mechanisms

2. Say what you think and do what you say

1. Treat others as you would like to be treated or better treat others as they would like to be treated

 

 

This post is based on a presentation that I have assisted few weeks ago made by Emilio Galli Zugaro, head of Group Communications in Allianz.

 

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The power of individuals

During the financial crisis of 2001 and 2008 we have assisted to a lot of bad guys who focused only on their personal results without caring at all about the possible consequences. The result of all these bad practices is clear nowadays to everybody – society has to pay the bill for that. Some magazines titles like “Can we ever trust wall street again?” are just illustrating the common thinking that all the people is having now in financial institutions and in big companies. Unfortunately there are plenty of examples in that direction.

But nowadays the traditional communication channels are changed. A reputation survey (trust.edelman.com) demonstrated that people believes that to evaluate a reputation of the company is extremely important if the company is “a company I can trust” (65%), just a little less than “high quality products” (69%), but definitely more than “delivers consistent financial returns to investors” (39%) and “widely admired leadership” (39%). So is more important to be trusted than the financial results or managerial leadership.
And the first primary source for evaluating the trust of a company is based on “conversation with company employees” more than “Live communication such as a CEO speech”.
Looking at institutions, people gives more trust to “people you meet for the first time” than in commercial enterprises or major banks.
This means that the trust of people to company and institutions is seriously compromised and to restore it will take a long time.
Then there is the web 2.0. Now there is the power of individuals. Every employee or customer or end user could blame a company for their behaviour. There are some “funny” stories like the United Airlines case that break the guitar of a singer which dedicated them a new song, or the Carrefour opening at Assago where a journalist behaviour against a kid caused big troubles to supermarket managers after the case exploded on internet and the word of mouth on Internet created serious problems of credibility to the company. There is a big series of examples of managers who have been forced to resign after public blame from the network that revealed some bad behaviour inside companies or after episodes of missing respect against some employees at work. Today everything is public.
Everybody in the company nowadays is important and can behave as a communicator or, if not respected, like a bomb who can create troubles to the company reputation. But in order to keep a good reputation for a company, managers have to be competent, concrete and trustable, they have to be aware of the stakeholders requirements, with dedication and motivation, putting the respect for the others at the first position of their priorities.

In the next post we will see how to cultivate trust or at least how to try to restore it.

The most valuable asset that you have: your opinion

When I ask to give me a summary report to the people who works for me I always ask to have their opinion on the subject. The reason is simple: I give you this task because I believe you are competent for the task assigned and I expect from you a professional result. And if you have to give me back a professional result, then you have to be professional in a complete and competent way – basically in this moment you are a consultant who is paid for giving back a service. When you pay a consultant, you are not paying him only for the service, you are paying him for his reputation, for his capabilities, for his history of achievements and so on. When I ask you a report I’m asking you the same. I want you to be my consultant.

When you are offering your service to someone, you have to try to give your best and you have to put on the table all your capabilities and all your experience in order to demonstrate that you are competent and to maximize the return that you can get from the service offered. And one the most important assets that you have is your experience, your capabilities and your reputation. And according to that you have all the rights to express your opinion. Moreover, because your opinion is the synthesis of your past experience, of your knowledge and your expertise, your opinion is very valuable and probably is the most valuable asset that you have because it represents the sinthesis of your knowledge. So you have to use that asset.

This is valid at all level of the organizations. For managers, for employees and also for manual and repetitive jobs. The opinion of the worker in the assembly line is very valuable because he’s the most involved in the manufacturing process and could see things that a lot of managers are not even able to guess.

So remember, your opinion is very important and very valuable,  it is the expression of your brand and it is a very important asset that requires investments (improvement and knowledge development) but that must used in order to create profits and maximize your return on investments that in this case is your unique life experience.

The challenges of growing companies

I have started working for a brief period of time in a medium-big company. Then I moved to a micro organization (actually I was the first employee).

When in you work in a very small company there are a lot of difficult things but there are also a lot of opportunities. You have to be flexible and be able to do everything, but at the same time you can take decisions very quickly. You cannot rely on specialized teamwork, but you could easily have an overview of everything that is happening around the company. You have to deal with a lot of day by day problems, but at the same time you have the opportunity to explore all the subjects and problems that a normal business faces.

It is clear that because there is a leakage of specialization, the general efficiency of the company is very low especially from the structural point of view, but at the same time, if you are competitive (and you have to be in order to survive) you can create big opportunities leveraging on the flexibility and your ability to respond to niche market needs.

And then the company grows. And everything changes. And everything has to change. Moreover, a lot of people working in the company feels the need for a change.

The change from a small company to a medium one is really difficult. From one side there is the need of more structure, the need of clear directions, the need to be better organized. On the other side there is the risk to lose flexibility, to feel the pressure of strict rules or to be less involved and informed about what’s going on.

Unfortunately during this transition the growth of the company generally absorbs a lot of cash and resources in general, so the situation is even more challenging.

The growth of the company is a difficult moment at all levels of the company, for the workers, for the employees, for the managers and for the top executives too. The workers are less and less involved in the interaction with managers and employees but in general their work tends to be more organized and structured (at least in the long run). The employees are required to be more specialized and to focus more in some skills and at the same time to interact with more people and more departments within the company. Managers have less freedom but at the same time they are less involved in the work itself and more responsible for the organization of the work environment and for creating the right synergies between the different departments.

For the top managers and for the executive there should be a transition too. This last one is very important because is the main driver for the change of the company. Without it, the company will be in trouble. The company needs more structure and the flow of information have to be more clear, more easy to be understood at all levels.

A company could decide to remain small, and in some industries this could be a good strategy. But in most cases the growth of a company is the only way to be very competitive in today challenging world. The transition from a small to a medium and then to a big company is not easy at all and involves all the levels of the organization. But at the same time it could be a good opportunity. Managing it in the best way could create solid basis for a leading company of the future competitive globalized world.