During my more than thirty-five years in the business industry, I have learned, through experience and benchmarking best practice companies, what it takes to run not only a business, but a successful one.  What follows is the fifth article in a series of twelve that will position any business for success.

Image courtesy of Armin Hanisch via freeimages.com Dragon fly

Image courtesy of Armin Hanisch via freeimages.com

In my last column I discussed the importance of outworking and out hustling your competition by playing all out.  If you demonstrate to a potential customer that you are willing to “go the extra mile,” even though your price might be a little bit higher, more often than not, they will select you over your competition.  A successful businessperson never puts off until tomorrow what they can accomplish today.  While you are playing all out, you must make sure that you have earned the trust of your employee colleagues.  If there is a lack of trust within a company whether it’s distrust in a direct colleague, the President/CEO, or the Senior Management team, it will be detrimental to the company’s long-term success.

The first step to earning trust is to practice consistent behaviors in and outside of the boardroom. All activities, all communication, all growth among employees and between employees and customers are a lot quicker and easier when you are a total trust company.  Stephen M.R. Covey describes this as the “Speed of Trust.”  He offers the following as traits of high-trust leaders and I included a bit of Jim Collins views as well: keep commitments; demonstrate respect; create transparency; right wrongs; show loyalty; deliver results; get better; confront reality (Collins calls this “Confront the Brutal Facts”); clarify expectations; practice accountability; listen first; talk straight (say what you mean and mean what you say); and extend trust.

Something I takeaway and practice from Covey and Collins’ views is to consistently do the right thing, even when no one is watching.  Always doing the right thing will develop trust among employees, the company and its customers and gracefully guide the organization to sustainable success.

Internal trust leads to external trust.  If your employees trust each other and know that everyone is doing their job, your customers will trust you as a company.  External customers who trust your company will give you the benefit of the doubt if a mistake happens.  After all, we are all human and even the best companies and most experienced service representatives make mistakes.  When a mistake happens, make sure you explain why/how it happened and what you as a company are going to do to prevent it from happening in the future.  Your customers will appreciate that you took the time to explain your internal process and will remember that you respected their concern and addressed it appropriately without losing their trust.

In summary, any successful business must have and promote trust throughout their entire organization – up and down, inside and outside of the organization.  This includes trust among employee colleagues, the President/CEO, Senior Management team, Board of Directors/Trustees, your customers, and, in Northeast Delta Dental’s case, our entire participating dentist network.  Everyone must act in the best interest of the team and managers must treat employees consistently by matching their walk (behavior) with their talk (statements).

Thomas Raffio, FLMI, is president & CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, northern New England’s most trusted name in dental benefits.