Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Business relationships hinge on the perceived value that the relationship will bring to commercial transactions and how that relationship will support the customer to get a job done and look good. Although many of the social niceties (e.g. How are the kids? We should get together for a golf game, etc.) are extended to a business relationship, the relationship is only based on trust. This is unlike a personal relationship, which is based on emotions such as attraction, caring, and commitment, as well as trust. Attraction, caring and commitment, regardless of how much we would like to think otherwise, are typically not part of the business relationship. Formal executive and senior management mentoring groups attempt to emulate some of the emotion found in personal relationships but even there, caring and commitment have a difficult time surviving when trust in an individual’s ability to deliver competence and value in a business transaction is suspect. When trust fails in a business relationship, there is a high risk that the relationship will fail. Broken trust results in a long cold winter between business associates and dampens business activity.
Trust is also important to other business relationships such as executive management and employee relationships. For example, trust plays an important role in how a Board of Directors relates and interacts with its CEO and how employees perceive that relationship. If employees do not perceive a relationship based on trust, they will not trust the decisions and actions of the Board and possibly the leadership of the CEO. This results in a culture of mistrust that interferes with getting the business of the organization done. Trust is the glue in effective business relationships at every level of a business from the Board room to executive and middle management to the shop floor to the suppliers and customers.
The next time you find yourself selling a concept, product or service, continue to incorporate social niceties in your communication but ask yourself, “How can I build trust with the individual or team that I’m dealing with?” If you cannot build a picture of your trustworthiness to deliver a product or service that supports the success of that individual or team, you and your company or department will not succeed. The answer is to focus on building trust in business relationships.