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  • Writer's pictureNavvir Pasricha

The Formula of Trust Pt 1

The formula of trust was something my favourite manager shared with me a long time ago. His decision to clue me in on the formula of trust came at a time where I was struggling to connect with a new team of mine after being thrust into position due to the old manager leaving. My struggles boiled down to the fact that my style was vastly different from my predecessor and what the team was ready and able to accept. My manager at that time shared the formula of trust with me and promised that once I had fit all the requirements, my new team would not only welcome me but prefer me to any other manager offered to them. I did not know it at the time but my manager was correct and the formula of trust that I followed not only helped me build trust within my team but it helped me build a reputation as a fair, honest and open manager, so much so that I had people requesting to be transferred into my team within two short years.

In this Four-part series, we will discuss the formula of trust and I will share some real-life examples of when I had implemented them in the workplace.

The formula is : Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy


The Formula of Trust starts with Credibility.

Whilst dictionaries and online sources have extensive definitions of the word credibility, I find that it is easy to define credibility as the characteristic that allows a leader to inspire confidence in his team. However, I don’t mean confidence in the “you can achieve anything” sense but confidence in the “this guy really knows what he is doing” sense. This sense of confidence is two-pronged.

First, the leader needs to be technically sound.

This means the leader has to understand the work or process sufficiently to be considered somewhat of an expert. This does not mean that a team leader for chargebacks needs to be the greatest chargeback reviewer of all time. It merely means that the leader needs to understand the process sufficiently enough to work cases themselves.

This was my first (of many) pitfalls. By being thrust into the leadership role of this new team, I had endeavoured to hit the ground running so as to live up to the bar set by my predecessor. However, I had not taken the time or put in the effort to understand the job my team were doing. So, when I spoke to them about productivity or accuracy, I was speaking from a position of weakness. How could I ask them to complete 40 reviews a day when I was only capable of completing 10 with supervision? So, I took it upon myself to sit down with the members of my team, watch them work, ask them questions, plot an understanding of why my team does what they do. It took me about 3 months but soon, I was able to complete nearly 50 - 55 cases a day and as my team realised that I could walk the walk, it built my credibility with them.

Secondly, the leader needs to be reputable.

This means that the leader has built a positive reputation for themselves by past their deeds. Some managers are able to ride off a pre-established reputation like a previous manager who identified talent and told them which positions to apply for only to lobby hard for them to be given the position. This led to a saying in the office “he has a plan for all of us”. On the other hand, other leaders (like myself), had to build a reputation by being consistent and constant in their actions.

For example, my team had to contend with backlogs as deep as the Mariana Trench. Therefore, without me asking, my team members often took it upon themselves to stay back for hours, sometimes coming in on weekends or even on their days off just to catch up with their backlog. When I caught wind of this, I spoke to the team and it was abundantly clear that the team felt they had no choice but to take these actions to hit their targets. Whilst I could not adjust their targets, I told them I would be fair and the days they were leaving late or if they had come in on the weekends to catch up with their backlog, I would allow them to start work later the next day.

Providing this flexibility to my team despite the protests of my fellow leaders and even my manager gained me a reputation as someone who valued his team’s wellness and was fair enough to give as much as I asked for.

It is important to note that whilst a leader must be technically competent and reputable, the leader can be less technically competent if they have a massively positive reputation or vice versa. The important thing is that the leader meet both this criterion on their journey to build credibility.

Next time, we uncover the second part of the Trust Formula, Reliability.

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