During the last few weeks I’ve been on-site at many of our client companies conducting Harassment Awareness programs. At the same time, I’ve been reading a number of articles about the importance of relationships in business, especially in gaining business by referral. It got me to thinking about how important relationships are in the workplace, and how easily the wrong words or actions can destroy relationships and hurt business. Hostile work environments are created when unwelcome comments (among other things) are made consistently, thereby creating a workplace that is so objectively offensive the person can no longer do their job.
In networking, to build business by referral credibility is as important. People won’t refer you if they fear you won’t follow up or be true to your word. In other words, you won’t get referrals if you are not credible. The same holds true for leaders in any company or organization (leader equals supervisor, manager, vice president, whatever the title – someone who is responsible for other people). You build credibility by doing what you say you are going to do. Promise an employee you will investigate a complaint and you fail to follow through, you lose credibility. Fail to share important information with employees, you lose credibility. Let another person take the fall for something you failed to do, you lose credibility. It can take a long time to build a solid business relationship and only a few misspoken words to tear it down. We build trust with people through our day-to-day actions and activities. If our actions are consistently positive, supportive and truthful day in and day out and we make a mistake, we will most likely be forgiven. On the other hand, if people never know what to expect from us, our behavior is moody and negative, we fail to return calls or e-mails or fail to support someone and we make a mistake, people are much less likely to forgive and forget. Whether you are leading a team or building a business, without credibility, you won’t have a lot of long term success.
In the book, The Speed of Trust, Dr. Stephen R. Covey states that trust is the one thing that can build or destroy every human relationship. Covey describes five waves of trust and states trust is built on two things: competence and character. According to Covey, credibility boils down to two simple questions:
1.) Do I trust myself?
2.) Am I someone who others can trust?
These questions are similar to the VCP concept taught by referral marketing guru, Dr. Ivan Misner (visibility + credibility = profitability), who says credibility is the quality of being reliable and worthy of confidence. Failing to live up to the expectations of others, both explicit and implicit promises, can kill the business relationship.
So here is my question to you as a leader in your company or organization. How much credibility do you have and what are you doing every day to maintain and grow that credibility? Please post your response.