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  • Writer's pictureKate Buchan


“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Trust is like an eraser, it gets smaller and smaller after every mistake.

Trust should be seen as an adjective. So many times I hear “my people are my most valuable asset”. My response is “well, look after them and spend resources on them”. We service our car, computer and other assets every year – we need to spend time and resources making sure our people can perform at the top of their game.

Authentic trust is an active process of relationship building. In June 2012 a Boston based consulting firm, Interaction Associates, repeated their 2009 survey that had responses from 400 people in 300 companies of very different size and type.  Only 27% of respondents said they had a high level of trust in management and their organisation – down from 39% in 2009.

In all projects, whether for a small or large company, trust is an absolute. Without it, success can be severely hampered. If one person working on a product development project has one set of skills and another has other skills but both are needed to succeed, if they don’t trust each other they will not get the product to market on time, on budget, and on quality.

We need also to be aware of language and responses. Most trust is eroded over time and not normally due to one event i.e. the death of 1000 cuts. “Get over it, it’s business” is not the right response if we value the person we are working with. Many times I see situations where people have fallen out over a seemingly simple matter, but when you look deeper, it is due to multiple small events i.e. the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Behavioural scientist at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, Ernest Fehr, confirmed experimentally that

“if you trust people, you make them more trustworthy and, conversely, sanctions designed to deter people from cheating actually make them cheat.”

A boss once told me he didn’t care where I worked either at home or in the office because if it did matter to him I wouldn’t be working for the company. He trusted that I would do the work no matter where I was.

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