Screw Trust and You Skewer Your Future

The Veterans Administration and General Motors currently sit center-stage for behavior that has ruptured the trust of customers and employees. But trust breaking goes on all the time—and not just with large hide-bound bureaucracies.

A Sad, But True Story

A developer of high-end properties purchased one of the last few pieces of close-to-ocean tracts.  Very expensive condos were to be built.  The senior managers had made very large promises to investors about profit as well as how fast everything would happen. The pressure was on the sales team who were busily trying to close deals with buyers.

However, floor plans kept changing, no dirt had been moved, and the so-called  “view” units now faced a wall instead of the promised tree hedge. Upgrades like automatic flush toilets were priced literally thousands of dollars more than the same toilet at a local design center.

The sales team was just as blindsided as the buyers they were trying to close. Now they faced very angry, demanding customers who wanted answers and revisions that the developer would not do.  “Just deal with it” became the corporate mantra. As for corporate reputation for future developments—forget it! And talented employees have left—either physically or mentally.

Sadly, this is but another example where greed at the leadership level, unrealistic deadlines, and a top-down arrogance left employees frustrated and disillusioned while the customers became increasingly angry. It does not have to be this way. But the solution requires courage and humility on the part of senior leaders.

Build in agreed-upon success goals for everyone—goals that are not just about money.

9 Tips to Build Trust


1. Put representatives of the frontline team around the strategic-planning table from the get-go.  Build in agreed-upon success goals for everyone—goals that are not just about money.

2. Create a shared vision of what success would look like.

3. Conduct a premortem as suggested by Gary Klein.  In launching any initiative—whether a real estate development or an internal process—bring the stakeholders together.  Stakeholders are those people whose actions will most directly touch the product or the process.  Have everyone jot down what could make the product or process go astray.

4. Under promise and over deliver.  Whether selling condos or consulting, it is over-delivery that creates raving fans.  The same dictum holds true with investors. Making grand promises might sound great at the get–go but unless you are very confident in the outcome, it will haunt you.

5. Have a candid discussion in the premortem to determine what could be done to forestall, mitigate or change something so that success is more assured.

6. Make “no surprises” the rule for anything that would impact the customer-facing employees.  Don’t let your frontline face the barrage from customers or clients.

7. Communicate without ceasing. Seek out the employees closest to the customer. Ask for AND listen to their ideas and input. Put the ideas into action and if it cannot be done, let everyone know why.

8. Make company heroes of employees for being both ambassadors for the company AND advocates for the customer.

9. Insist on respectful conversation from everyone. The paradox – customers are not always right. No employee should take verbal abuse from anyone. Stand up for them and they will stand out for you!

Seems like such common sense.  Then again, common sense is not always that common.


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Image credit- Tawng / 123RF Stock Photo

© 2014, The Resiliency Group.  Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.




Since founding McDargh Communications & The Resiliency Group Eileen McDargh has helped organizations and individuals transform the life of their business and the business of their life through conversations that matter and connections that count. Her programs are content rich, interactive, provocative and playful—even downright hilarious. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. She is the author of five books, including Gifts from the Mountain: Simple Truths for Life's Complexities ,a Benjamin Franklin Gold Award winner. A training film based on this book was awarded the Silver Telly, the highest award for commercial productions. Her latest book was written to help everyone who is stretched too thin by competing demands My Get Up & Go Got Up & Went. As a business author and commentator, she’s appeared on network news, on radio programs and in business journals and in major metropolitan newspapers.

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