Our director of copier service at Marco, Dale Evens, recently shared an article with me about trust. The article referenced a study published in Psychological Science journal that indicated trust is at the lowest level in three decades. Only 33 percent of Americans agree that “most people can be trusted” and most did not believe media, government, schools or corporations were trustworthy. Dale indicated that trust is something he felt Marco is good at and I agree.
“Do you trust your supervisor?” is an important question we ask in our employee satisfaction survey each year. We want to know if employees feel like they are trusted to do their job without their supervisor looking over their shoulder. We just completed our 27th annual 100-question employee survey, and this question has consistently been ranked as one of the highest.
No one ever says, “I am not trustworthy,” but we know not everyone is. Building trust goes way beyond the obvious of not lying, cheating or stealing. It requires holding confidentiality in high regard and doing the right thing, especially when no one’s looking.
I work hard to earn and maintain the trust of my family, my friends and those I work with. Here’s a look at what we do to build a culture of trust:
- Being trustworthy begins at home.
Our family is the first opportunity we have to establish trust, and it demonstrates our credibility for building trust with others as well. Having a reputation of trust requires building it across all of your touch points – your employees, vendors and clients. If you have a trustworthy relationship with loved ones, odds are that you also will build trust as a leader. Falling short in one area can affect your reputation across the board.
- Display respect for your employees.
I recently asked a client to leave our office after the person continued to yell and disparage our Marco team members. It was unfounded and unprofessional. I felt standing against unethical behavior was my responsibility as a leader. I didn’t feel that remaining silent was the right approach, as I needed to support our team members. I hope I left a favorable impression on the four employees in the meeting on how I handled the situation.
- Exercise ethical behaviors with your vendors.
When acquiring companies, we have uncovered a few situations where the company was cheating their vendor’s pricing system. In one case, the company was dishonest about their client orders so they could buy product at an unjustified discount. We brought the issue to the manufacturer’s attention, even though it would potentially have a negative financial impact. It was the right decision to disclose the situation, which solidified our relationship of trust. I believe a loss of trust will always cost far more in the long run.
- Maintain pricing integrity with clients.
This is a big one. In our direct sales model, there are a lot of opportunities to compromise pricing integrity. This is the easiest way to lose a client. You need to develop a consistent pricing model and it better be market-based. Our sales team understands that building trust among our clients requires us to consistently give them a fair deal.
I think a hallmark of our company is that we’ve built a comprehensive trusting relationship with our clients, employees, vendors and communities. When we have a high level of trust, we can be way more effective as leaders and it makes it much easier to run the business.