Monday, October 24, 2016

Why Trust Matters

About a month ago I visited a favorite local deli. 

It reminded me of that scene from "Animal House" when John Belushi yelled "food fight!"

While food wasn't flying across the room, it certainly looked like the aftermath. Food was on the floor, tables were overflowing with trash and employees looked harried.

After observing the chaos for a bit -- several tables of patrons were complaining that they had been waiting "forever" for their food -- I turned to my dining companion and said: "She's not here."

"Who?" my friend questioned.

"That woman manager who is a ball of energy. When she's here, this place runs like clockwork and she knows everything that's going on," I said. "This would never happen if she were here."

Just this weekend, I again visited the deli and saw the manager. I didn't know her name, but commented to her that the place really missed her a couple of weeks ago. She said it wasn't the first time she had heard the story.

"I don't know what it is," she said, sighing. "But no one seems to be able to get it together when I'm not here."

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was because we trusted her. As a customer, I knew when she was around that my order wasn't likely to be lost or late, and I was going to find plenty of clean tables and efficient employees.

Her team trusted her, as well. When she was around, they knew that they had a job to do and everyone was going to pull together.

The point of this deli story (other than making you hungry) is to underscore the importance of trust in your career. It's so critical to your success and those around you. You cannot build it overnight, but it matters a lot -- even down to the little things.

For example, if someone sees you goofing around on Facebook instead of working on an important report, then you erode your trust factor. Or, swiping that stapler from work may seem like no big deal, but studies have shown that if you can't be trusted to do the right thing on the small things, then you can't be trusted when it comes to bigger issues. In other words, it's a slippery slope when it comes to trust -- screw it up in the little ways and people will no longer want you on their team or you may even get fired.

The reason I went back to the deli after the Belushi moment was because this manager had built my trust in the business. My past experiences led me to trust that the ship would be righted. If that chaos had been my first experience with the place, I might never have gone back.

When it comes to your career -- or your business -- building that trust may just be the secret sauce that propels you to success even when you have a bump in the road. 

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