⚒️ The Trust Equation aka How to Be a Decent Human
Building trust is critical for long term success. Being a decent human builds personal connections.
As we swing through the holiday season, I hope everyone is having a fantastic time with friends and family. During this last week, I learned that you can put emoji into article titles. I decided I needed to indulge myself and use one this week.
On to other important and completely unrelated news. I bought a Spotify premium family plan today, and procrastinated by making a stunning exercise playlist. I shared my flawless music selection with our 14-year-old son, and I'm deeply curious if I can convince him to listen to it. For example, many of you know that it's impossible to stop running while Eye of the Tiger is playing. Is that because I watched Rocky when I was young, or is it something magical about that song? I also find myself accelerating during Crazy Train, but I'm not sure how well that 80s song will resonate with someone born decades later.
I speak a lot below about how to build trust, and why it's critical for being successful in the office. It's also significant for my own mental well-being. When you act in a way consistent with how you view yourself, you reinforce your own beliefs. For myself, I like to view myself as a manager who really cares about his employees. So when I take steps to help them, I'm making myself happy and content as well. Feels like everyone wins.
When I first joined Amazon, I was told by a senior leader that I should be careful to not be too friendly with my team members. He said that it was dangerous to have a personal connection. With a personal connection, he said it would be hard to do my job well.
Thankfully, I ignored that particular advice. Building personal connections and trust is one of the ways I was successful over the years.
I wrote an article recently which explained why meritocracy can't exist in the office. Instead, we rely on trust, the result of our interactions over time with other humans.
I've spent more time thinking about the basis of trust, and how people build trust between each other over time.
I came up with a model for how to think about building trust with your co-workers.
💭 Trust = Empathy + Honesty + Commitment + Competency + Time
How do you use this model?
"I really appreciate how you spent extra hours on that project last week, it meant a lot for you to put in all that effort." - Empathy
"While you got a ton done, the team had to debug numerous errors, because you didn't properly test your code before deploying it. That caused some delays and stress on our part." - Honesty
"I don't want you to feel rushed in the future. If you don't mind, I can work with you on planning this next phase of the project, so you can perform better, without all that stress." - Commitment
Over the next few weeks, this example speaker helps the employee schedule their work (and test their code properly), so that they are able to complete it on schedule without issue. - Competency over time
Is this the only way to think about trust? Yes.
Actually, I imagine not. Yet I've spent some time thinking through professional relationships I've had (both positive and negative), and thought through what contributed to the positive or negative aspects of those relationships. In every case I could personally come up with, I could recognize some or all of the above elements.
So in the absence of another model, I'm going to walk through each element here, and discuss how it contributes to building trust and stronger connections.