Trust Isn’t Just An Outcome

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Trust can’t be an outcome. This was the comment from somebody in response to a blog I responded to. I talked about the measurability of trust and the power that applying science to something squishy like trust can buttress the argument against trust only being a ‘soft’ thing.

But why did this person respond this way? It had me thinking for a few days. Why would measuring trust lead one to assume that it’s an outcome-based measure? And even if it were, what is wrong with trust as an outcome. Why can’t trust be an outcome?

I assume he means that there are other more relevant and significant outcomes which an organization should focus on- things like profit, revenue, expenses. Those are the primary goals of any business. Stop paying attention to that and you don’t have a business to worry about. But those of us concerned with organizational life know there is a connection between people and profits. Treat your people with a spirit of low trust, disrespect and like cogs in a wheel, and down the road your profits will suffer. Perhaps not in the short term, but certainly in the long term.

Focusing on people is hard work. People aren’t rational, they don’t always cooperate (some will say they never cooperate), they have their own opinions (and are happy to let you know them) and don’t always do what you want them to. Add building trust to that. Trust- that scary concept which we all know when we see it and know when it’s gone. Trust- the one thing we don’t want to ask about- just in case.

Trust is the most important asset a business can have. There was an explosion on an Airbus 380 yesterday- a huge piece of the plane blew apart. I can guarantee you there are a whole lot of people wondering if they can trust Boeing or this plane. Who trusts Wall Street? Just think of the global fall-out from the Wall Street meltdown. It doesn’t really matter how smart or innovative the financial services sector is when trust is gone. It doesn’t add up to much if you have lost your life savings. Think you’ll trust them again? Think their marketing is going to have any effect on you?

Trust is an outcome. It’s also the foundation. Nothing else really matters. It’s all any of us really have.

So, what do you think ?