Skip navigation

Building trust and reputation in your career: how do you rank?


DATE: 24 July, 2018

I’ve been thinking of Harvey Weinstein. And of reputation. And of our careers.

Reputation is made up by two things. Each as important as the other.

First, capability. You need to be very competent at what you do. But capability alone won’t give you a fabulous reputation. Harvey, after all, is acknowledged as one of the best movie producers in the world.

You also need to have character. You have to be known to ‘do the right thing’. Here Harvey fails.

And we also all know people who are ‘wonderful, wouldn’t hurt a fly’, but not good at what they do. Their reputation suffers just as much. We like and respect them, but would never hire them.

So, you need both Capability and Character to build reputation to survive and thrive in business today. Through building reputation, you earn trust.

It’s trust that is eroding around the world. We no longer trust our Governments, institutions, companies, CEOs, media (fake news right!), or, and here’s the rub, each other.

For each of us to keep succeeding in our careers, we need to be working on our ‘trust’ fitness. Seriously. It’s about building trust with our ‘paying’ clients, and with our internal ‘clients’ — colleagues, bosses, suppliers — the stakeholders we must work with and whose view of us is important.

We must, every day, ensure we are doing the hard yards to strengthen the pillars that create a brand for ourselves as being trustworthy. It needs focus. It’s so easy to slip up. We simply can’t afford to do that.

So here’s a quick Trust Health Check for you:

Look at each statement below. Give yourself a score out of 10.

Full marks if you are outstanding at this with your clients and internal stakeholders. You’re brilliant. Could not be better. Zero if you are an unmitigated disaster at this. And somewhere in between based on how you feel you are. You know the plot. Then add up your scores. Get a total score out of 100. I explain at the bottom what your score means. Give it a go!

1. Believability

I work hard to build a professional profile for myself based on sharing insights about what my clients are worried about. I focus on their issues and concerns, rather than talk about myself or my firm. My brand building positions me right at the edge of the disruption impacting my clients.

2. Proven Track Record

I quietly share examples of how I am delivering powerful results for others my clients admire and respect. Never breaking confidentiality of course… but seeding examples that show I am at the edge, sharp, and adding value.

3. Rapport

I am always working on building a personal connection, rapport and relationships with my clients. I know that if I develop relationships and a human connection, then anything is possible. After all, people do business with people they like.

4. In Their Shoes

I always look at issues from the perspective of my clients. I get ‘in their shoes,’ and in this way am empathetic to how they feel and what they need.

5. Transparency

I never lie to clients. I am upfront and authentic. I tell them bad news, fast. Yes, I do of course manage perceptions carefully, but always with candour — truth without malice.

6. Recovery

Of course, I stuff up occasionally and drop the ball. But when I do, I tell the client immediately, apologise, and set new deadlines and commitments. I recover fast from my setbacks.

7. Reliable

I am completely reliable. I deliver on my promises, don’t overpromise and under-deliver, am accurate in the details, and am a brilliant and timely communicator.

8. Consistency

You know what you will get with me. I am consistent in my performance and behaviour, though I do throw in the occasional delightful surprise!

9. Agile

I adapt fast when my clients’ needs change. I ‘play what’s in front of me’, and am always nimble and adaptable in the way I work with clients.

10. Respect

I respect my client’s time, arrive always on time to meetings, and always return emails and phone calls quickly.

Now, add up your score

When I was at university, 80% and above was a distinction. In the world of Trust, to me, there is no compromise.

You have to score 80% or above to get a ‘healthy’ tick. Anything less is a slippery slope to oblivion.

Now, stay calm. If you score less than 80%, what a great learning! Take action NOW to start improving your scores. Print out the Trust Health Check. Look at it every day. Keep self-assessing.

Remember the human condition. It is so easy to slip and to let ‘trust laziness' creep in. Happens to me all the time. You’re not born with all the ‘trust’ characteristics. You can learn them, and build them.

Our job now is to be aware of the dangers and to work on our Trust fitness just as we do on our physical fitness….with a plan, focus, measuring results, consistency, determination and grit.

You’ll stumble on that journey, just as you do on a jog, but if you keep at it, you’ll soon be running marathons!

This blog post was originally published on the Firebrand Ideas Ignition Blog.