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 continues on with Reliability
Reliability is the element of the formula of trust and should not be confused with Credibility. The differences between the two are stark; whilst credibility lends authority to a leader’s words, reliability can be described as the element of truth in those words. My findings have shown that reliability is a trait that is easy to understand but somewhat tricky to define. As such, I have split it up into two, equally important parts.
Some readers might be tempted to call out that dependability and reliability are pretty much the same thing. However, I submit that dependability is a part of reliability as you can only rely on someone who you know will not let you down - someone you can depend on.
However, this element requires more than a simple anecdote. Being a dependable leader means that your team knows that when you say you will do something, you do it. For example, in a previous job, I was responsible for distributing overtime hours across the department. As overtime cycles ran from Thursday to Wednesday, it was critical that all overtime was allocated by Wednesday evening to allow all teams to prepare for their overtime hours. The problem I faced was that I would only know how many overtime hours the department was allocated on Wednesday afternoon, giving me less than 2 hours to complete this exercise. I dropped the ball once and did not send overtime hours out on-time and as such, I faced a huge amount of pushback from all teams across the department. I accepted my mistake and pledged that I would find a more efficient way to allocate overtime hours and communicate with the team.
The next week, I asked all teams to submit their overtime pledges by Tuesday. On Wednesday afternoon, I split the allocated overtime hours across all teams and auto-approved all pledges that were under the team’s allocation. I then divided the remaining hours amongst teams who had more pledged hours than allocated hours, creating a win-win situation.
This built my dependability in my team’s mind and they knew that I accepted my errors and took immediate action to rectify them.
Believability simply put, is how truthful a leader is being. The aim is to have your team understand or feel that you are being entirely truthful ie - there is no deceit or half-truths in your interactions with your team. A strong, developed sense of believability means that your team can disagree with you yet go along with what you are saying because they know you will not be leading them down the wrong path.
Allow me to expand on this point. A few years ago, the team I was leading was asked to add an additional step to their reviews. The step was inconsequential and added no more than 5 seconds per review. Yet a vocal member of my team, often hailed as the best that the entire department had to offer, asked for an explanation as to why this was required. Having anticipated this, I informed the team that it was due to a regulatory requirement. I was then asked for the particular document number as the team member wanted to read the regulation. Instead of brushing them off, I reminded the team of my promise to them from the very beginning of my tenure as their leader - I won’t have all the answers but I will do my best to get the answers for them. So I asked for time to get the information, a request that was granted. Over the next 10 days, I would give updates as to the status of the query. Even when there were no new developments, sharing the fact that I was waiting to hear from someone else made my team realize that I truly meant what I said about doing whatever I could to answer their questions. I never found out what the exact regulations were. However, I had spent two weeks asking the relevant people the relevant questions and sharing updates daily with my team. I used these facts and the believability I had crafted within my team to help them accept the new style of working despite not fully understanding why. It is critical to note that had I not done the work or not shared updates, my team would have still incorporated the new step into their daily work, they would have resented having to do so and I would be seen as a corporate drone, just dishing out orders.
Next month, we cover the third element of trust - Intimacy.