Almost without exception, the top concern most people raise with me when speaking about their professional or business reputation is the impact their colleagues have on it.
“I can guarantee to deliver on the promises I make,” they say “but what do you when you just know someone else in the company is unlikely to deliver on theirs?”
The problem, of course, is that standards can be interpreted in highly subjective ways and what one person may consider a minimum standard of performance may be quite different from someone else’s.
Indeed, one of the top reasons people quit their job doesn’t relate to dissatisfaction with their own work, it relates to not getting the support they feel they need from their boss or others within the team.
If we put effort into creating high-trust relationships at every level internally, the chances are we will get on with others more effectively, enjoy our work more, and be willing to put our reputation on the line, knowing we can trust others to deliver in ways that everyone’s agreed to, and are happy with.
Fortunately, behaving in a way that builds trust among colleagues is relatively straightforward:
Being open and honest builds trust. Being truthful, or transparent, is both honourable — helping you to sleep well at night — and helpful to the person you are dealing with, enabling them to make informed decisions.
One of the biggest reputation damagers and trust-breakers is over-promising and under-delivering. Avoid making untrue or misleading claims, which could come back to haunt you and raise doubt about your integrity and ability to deliver.
The way a person wishes to be treated is often quite different to someone else. One size doesn’t fit all. Avoid making assumptions and running the risk of offending or upsetting the person you are dealing with.
The best way to find out how someone wants to be treated is to ask him. Find out what’s important to him and deliver accordingly. The saying “do unto others as you would have done unto you” should be avoided. Instead, “do unto others as they would like you to do unto them!”
Don’t jump to conclusions about what you think people need or want. Instead, genuinely listen and hear what’s being said.
Where appropriate, also identify what’s not being said and reflect back your understanding of their needs and wants as part of a non-threatening or intimidating conversation. Ensure you are both clear on what is required before agreeing to deadlines and outcomes.
Be of service
Ensuring the other person’s needs are met is very important. If you can do what’s needed in the time-frame required, that is ideal. If not, think carefully before committing yourself.
If you have any doubts about your ability to deliver, for any reason whatsoever, it’s better to raise them and see if a solution can be reached with the resources available and the circumstances you are in.
While you might think you are the most important person in the transaction, the truth is you are probably only one of several who have to contribute to a successful outcome.
Acknowledging the part that others play, and engaging in discussion with a healthy “attitude of gratitude”, will help others feel both valued and valuable. It will also likely increase the chances of them going “above and beyond” for you in the future when needed.
If you want to win on the outside, with clients and customers, think about how you treat each other inside the organisation first.
Being truthful, respectful, understanding, serving and thankful when dealing with each other internally will go a long way towards helping reduce absenteeism, high turnover, low productivity and even theft.
It will also help you build, and maintain, high-trust/high-value relationships that allow you to put your reputation on the line as a business in the knowledge that you will be able to deliver on your promises.