Natalie Doyle Oldfield has spent her career answering that very question and is on a mission to help business owners and leaders grow their companies by building trusting relationships with customers and colleagues.
Natalie works with leaders, project managers, technical professionals to build relationships that solve problems, build businesses, and earn higher revenues. Natalie’s book: The Power of Trust, How Companies Build, Manage, and Protect It helps leaders understand the fundamentals of building relational skills. In addition, Natalie is the founder of Sucess Through Trust, an education and consulting company for business owners.
Trust is the Foundation of Every Relationship
Trust is the foundation of every relationship: personal, business, community. Relationships do not exist without trust, yet trust can be hard to identify or quantify.
First, gauge trust levels by measuring comfort and speed of transactions. Trust is present in speedy communication. For example, if someone trusts you, they will quickly answer your phone call or email.
However, uncomfortable feelings indicate trouble, which reveals unclear motives or processes. Communication slows down, and there is a slower speed between returning emails and phone calls. If we send a proposal and hear nothing back, that’s also a significant indicator of a lack of trust somewhere in the relationship.
Trust is not discussed much in business settings, but it’s the foundation of every interaction. Everyone knows what it feels like to have discomfort, even if we don’t have words for it. Because every decision requires some level of trust, it is crucial to have strong trust between leadership, coworkers, and clients.
For some people, trust comes intuitively, but others need practice in making trust-based decisions.
Why is trust-building important? Because trust is the foundation of every single sale.
People decide to trust before they decide to buy. Companies are groups of people. When people trust an organization, they think of interactions with individuals, and people trust people.
Technical Excellence is the Start–Not the End
Technical people: welders, physicists, engineers, accountants, and anyone who has risen to an expert level in their field will have to learn new skills if they want to advance into leadership positions. Relational skills are crucial for advancement.
Someone who has achieved technical excellence in a particular field will need to learn new skills to advance their career. In addition to technical expertise, leaders are people who can demonstrate that they can bring in new clients, keep those new clients happy with a positive relationship, and bring in more business and get to the next sale.
To move from demonstrating trust in technical expertise to advancing to a leadership role, people must know where to reach out for support to learn the essential relational skills that expand their influence and opportunities. Technical knowledge is the start, but building the confidence of others is the next fundamental step.
People Trust More When You Showcase Their Expertise
Knowing how to show others’ skills well in day-to-day interactions requires relational prowess. The cycle of mutual benefit expands influence and trust for exponential production. Therefore, to build others’ confidence, highlight their strengths.
The Triangle of Trust
1. Behavior: Identify Areas of Control
The weather, courier service speeds, product availability, costs, and many other factors are outside our control. We gain energy by focusing on what we can control.
Do project managers and supervisors have sufficient information and tools? Meet those leaders’ needs, and they will be to meet yours.
Overcoming crises and uncertainty requires liaising with other people outside and inside companies. Questions show teachability, a penchant for growth, and curiosity to create the best solutions.
Trust enables people to make decisions that serve themselves and others to the best extent possible. Transformational leaders solve problems–regardless of external pressures and obstacles. When transactions come up against a block of some kind, leaders and employees need to be empowered to solve problems quickly.
“Employees are empowered when trust is in the process.”
“If everyone’s talking about trust, building relationships, and understands how it drives business performance, then trust becomes part of the culture. Most high-performing organizations worldwide want to have a culture of trust.”
“We want to work with people we trust. The studies show that it’s the key ingredient to a high-performance team. It drives innovation, new ideas, and performance. Trust even improves engagement. That is why it is a critical asset for companies.”
Behavior reveals what we believe and is the foundation of trust.
2. Communication: Identify the client’s questions and concerns.
With deliberate focus, you can manage expectations internally and externally. Clarity about small and large details brings calm in shifting environments. Restating those requirements and expectations reaffirms company standards and creates a sense of security for employees who pass that security on to clients.
Clear expectations free up space to make decisions and move forward to the next task. Then, when employees are public-facing, they exude and fulfill corporate expectations that reaffirm the company’s brand.
“When you can empathetically manage relationships through uncertainty and are collaborative yet accountable, you have a much better output.”
Think about what the customer’s experience is. Employees need to remember that everyone is in sales of one kind or another, so focusing on client needs will speed up problem solving and clear messaging.
Communicate and follow through to be the trustworthy person that colleagues and clients expect from your company.
3. Service: Share Mistakes
Meeting felt needs requires empathy. Empathy is knowing what it feels like to be in someone else’s position, and it reveals what step to take next.
The construction industry is the backbone of every community worldwide, so leaders within that industry need a double vision of sorts. While working between businesses, leaders need to remember the customer experience too.
We serve our colleagues and clients best with sincerity, authenticity, and empathy.
Trust is the inevitable result when we share our mistakes and reliably fix them with options for the client. In fact, emails that fix an error have higher open rates than perfect emails. Showing up authentically, admitting when we need to research a topic further, recognizing when we get something wrong, and a willingness to change creates trust and transformation in relationships.
Being the first to discover a mistake in a multi-year project reveals reliability and value. The feeling of protection from financial and structural harm cements relationships in the present and leads toward trust in the future.
An effective way to grow trust in your business portfolio is to choose someone with whom you could build, strengthen, or repair a relationship.
Imagine yourself in their shoes. Empathy changes our responses and interactions, and it will help reveal how to proceed. When we work on our internal messaging first, we become reliable leaders who clarify what to do next. Then, choose one small thing you can do to meet that need.