In a business culture of strong trust, Covey said, projects get done faster and costs decrease. Conversely, there’s a tax to low-trust relationships – retention erodes, employee turnover jumps and energy fades. “Think of someone you have a trusted relationship with and how much easier it is to get things done,” Covey said. “Now think of someone you don’t trust. The differences are huge.”
Covey explained that many people consider trust an outward expression, when it’s really internal. “Trust begins from the inside out,” he said. “You have to trust yourself first. There’s a ripple effect.” Self-trust leads to increased credibility and ultimately better business results. Relationship, organizational, market and societal trust are built through a foundation of personal trust, he said.
Referencing several case studies, Covey showed trust can make a big impact on small businesses, not just multi-million dollar firms. In one example, Covey described how a donut stand worker doubled his business by simply allowing customers to make their own change – speeding up order time. In another case, Covey explained how a bike shop owner lets customers test ride even the most expensive models, without requiring any collateral like a deposit or a driver’s license. The shop lost just five bikes last year, but sold 5,000.
Trust can be learned, Covey insisted, by applying certain behaviors to business conversations and deal making. To start, Covey believes businesspeople need to declare their intent to trust and be trustworthy upfront – otherwise people project your attitude and are too often suspicious of your motives. “If you want to be trusted, you need to give trust,” Covey said.
Covey said successful and trusted businesspeople will also “talk straight, demonstrate respect, create transparency, clarify expectations and listen first,” while avoiding counterfeit behaviors like hidden agendas. “When you do the right thing, especially when there’s a cost or consequence, you gain incredible loyalty and trust,” he said.