BUSINESS: Today, business is all about trust
Recent Western Cape Business News
What and who do you trust these days … government … business leaders … all those sportsmen we used to hold in such high regard? The world over, it has been proven that trust has now fallen to alarmingly low levels.
While people might well trust the institution of government, they don’t trust government leaders and the main reason for this is corruption … and in South Africa, we are not alone in this regard.
In the world of business in 26 countries around the world – excluding South Africa - people just don’t trust CEOs at all. In fact, CEOs ranked second lowest after government leaders*. Again excluding South Africa, where the evidence is quite different, the business sector that scores the lowest for trust is a sector in which we should have the most trust – that of financial services. It seems that people all over the world do not trust the very institutions where they put their money. That’s chronic. In contrast, we’re lucky that regulations have almost forced a trust culture of financial services in South Africa
What I found so enlightening from all the research I have conducted together with working on some of the world’s leading brands is what I share in my presentations and workshops. And this is that trust is not some elusive, intangible concept. Trust is a basic instinct that can be taught, established, built and restored. Trust is the one thing that holds every relationship together, whether it is business or personal. Without trust, there is nothing!
So, why is trust such an important issue in business today?
Because when you have trust, you have a whole load of proven benefits. The first one is speed. According to Stephen Covey in his book, “The Speed of Trust”, and my own personal experiences, working with top corporate teams in both South Africa and internationally, when there is trust in an organization or in any business relationship, there is collaboration, transparency and loyalty. People recommend you more; they place more orders and employees want to work for you. Relationships with trust behind them are then based on commitment and everything speeds up … this results in costs going down. A great example of this is Amazon.com. The reverse applies when there is no trust. People are apathetic and frustrated. There is friction and politics, and everything slows down … resulting in costs going up. Just take a look at some of our own parastatals as evidence of this.
The new world order
Now that the world has opened up to provide information about absolutely anything and to anyone, people are realizing that what they used to trust and their reasons for doing so have changed. The goalposts have moved. They don’t have to trust the same source, the same opinion formers, the same leaders. They can form their own opinions based on the shared experiences of like-minded people … they can relate to that. Therefore they can trust what that person says because it’s relevant to them.
In fact it has been proven that 93% of people trust people just like themselves more than anyone else and, even more staggering, 70% of people now trust the word of strangers more than anyone else**. Just look at how people around the world get their information today. They take their news from people they don’t know off Twitter. They accept advice from strangers about where to go on holiday from ‘TripAdvisor’ and they use LinkedIn for recommendations from strangers when looking to recruit someone.
What this now means for business is that leaders have to be more respectful and caring not only to their employees but to their customers. As I share in my talks and workshops, that today it is more than just about the bottom line; it is also about how you achieve it in terms of your leadership skills and ethics. Today, we are living in a world that is social, sharing and transparent, one that requires trust more than ever to function effectively. When it comes to brands, consumers are smart and with social media they have been given a voice and power. They can tell instantly if a brand is not authentic. If it does not have the right intent, they won’t trust that brand … simple. Nowadays, a brand is vulnerable because it can be exposed by just one tweet. And through careless messaging, a familiar brand can lose the trust it has built up over years - the ramifications of which can be severe, if not fatal. Trust is no longer a ‘nice to have’ … it’s an absolute imperative.
Results are not only the reason why we are in business, but also serve as one of the greatest motivators of trust. People want to work for and with people who have the competence and who can deliver. But these days it’s also about how we get to those results that matter. It is about your intent, your integrity and how you treat your employees and customers. Today it is all about trust.
Ann Nurock was the CEO of Grey South Africa and more recently President and CEO of Grey Canada. She is currently SA Partner of Relationship Audits and Management, an international consultancy that specializes in the measurement, risk management and opitmisation of B2B relationships. She is also professional speaker and workshop facilitator on the subject of trust in business. Her keynote is entitled “It’s All About Trust”. www.annnurock.com
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