March 01, 2016
Guiding Principles

Sense of Trust

We are all familiar with the five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing), but I believe that there is a sixth sense – the sense of trust.

Some of my friends are incredible judges of character. Within a few minutes of meeting someone for the first time, they can make a determination of whether or not they are on the “up and up.” I refer to this innate ability as their sense of trust.

I believe that trust is the cornerstone of all relationships, so it should not be surprising that the following Kenway Consulting Guiding Principle particularly resonates with me:

To strive to establish, foster and maintain the role of trusted advisor for our partners, prospects and clients through long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.

Whom do you trust? Family members? Your doctor? Your boss? Your financial planner? How was that trust established, if at all? Do you tend to trust people right off the bat, or does it take time for someone to build and gain your confidence?

Early in my career, I learned about the Four Models of Trust. I think of them every time I form a new relationship, both personal and professional. The Models dictate how you go about defining someone’s trustworthiness. That is, whether you are:

  1. Suspicious Until: Not trusting anyone until they prove themselves to be trustworthy.
  2. Suspicious Still: Not trusting anyone, even after they have proven themselves to be trustworthy.
  3. Trust Until: Trusting people until they give you a reason not to trust them any longer.
  4. Trust Still: Trusting people even after that trust has been broken.

Now, let’s turn the tables–trust is a two-way street. Thinking about who you trust and the reasons you trust them, is the feeling mutual? How do you establish and build trust in new relationships? Depending with which Model someone associates, it can take time. Gaining (or re-gaining) trust can be challenging. Unfortunately, losing trust isn’t quite so difficult. The keys to building those strong relationships lie in:

Establishing Trust: We all know the importance of first impressions. In order to work effectively and successfully in a relationship, it is essential to be genuine with your intentions from the onset. If you are not authentic from the start, you are setting yourself up for failure in establishing a trusting relationship.

Building Trust: Do you honor commitments? Can you maintain confidences? Can you raise issues and risks and deliver tough messages, even if it might not be what someone wants to hear? Being forthright and following through are key elements in moving the needle when building and cultivating trust in relationships.

Maintaining Trust: As a relationship matures, the dynamics of that relationship may change and trust must also mature. Continuing to hold yourself and others accountable will support a trusted relationship and help sustain it as it evolves.

Trust is essential in every interaction for a Kenway Consultant, especially when navigating the landscape at an engagement at a new client. Working with unfamiliar resources within a new corporate culture can be difficult, but because of our aforementioned Guiding Principle around trust, I believe that it is one of Kenway’s greatest assets.

An example of building trust is our Statements of Work. These lay the foundation for a trusted relationship by prescribing exactly what Kenway agrees to deliver for a client up front, before any work had begun. We are stating the value that we are committing to provide, and in turn, our clients are placing their trust in us.

Another example of how our consultants build and maintain trust is in situations where we are not co-located with our clients. I have been staffed at a few client engagements where our clients are not based in Chicago, and as a result, the entire interaction was done remotely. In these situations, a little extra care and communication may be necessary to ensure that we are making a significant impact immediately. While we may need to spend additional time and effort at the beginning—more touchpoints and status updates, additional planning before meetings, and a few extra small deliverables may be needed, the long run value is well worth the effort. I have found that these actions help to quickly prove Kenway to be a trusted advisor, and lead our clients to seek our expertise in other areas of their business.

Chances are you will be meeting someone new in the near future. Maybe you will be hiring someone to fill an open position on your team, interviewing a nanny or a dog walker, or maybe you will be the person being considered for a new position at work. Whatever the case, and in whichever default Model of Trust they or you reside, exuding truth and integrity will be rewarded, regardless of the actual outcome .

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