Thursday, April 7, 2011

Speed of Trust and Small Business

I had the opportunity earlier this week to attend a webinar hosted by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) of which I am a part. The speaker was Stephen Covey talking on the Speed of Trust. As with everything I study which is intended for global business, I like to ponder how the same concepts can be applied to small business. This topic, in particular, had some very concrete applications especially to others like us who are in service businesses.

One of the main points that Stephen Covey asserts is that trust is more than a social value. Rather it is has an economic impact as well. As trust increases, the speed at which work gets done increases and the cost decreases. According to Covey, trust is a function of 2 things: Credibility and Behavior. He cites 4 Cores of Credibility. The first two, Integrity and Intent are related to whether people trust our character. The second two, Capabilities and Results, are related to whether people trust our competence.

Without understanding the theory that Stephen Covey proposes, I have observed scenarios working with clients where we can accomplish a lot in a short period of time if we are trusted because we are not having to meet continually to explain every step and have everything approved. This increases the speed of our success with clients and therefore reduces their bill. A lower bill makes our services feel even more valuable to our clients and they recommend us to others thus increasing our income. That perfectly describes the Trust Dividend cited in the Speed of Trust.

Applying this to the small business service providers, we can increase the speed at which our clients trust us by:
1. Making sure that our actions speak as loud as our words to our integrity.

2. Declaring our intent. Clients are not going to think that things should be done our way just because we say so. We need to explain the why behind what service we want to do and why it is important to them. This shows them that we are actually looking out for our clients and not just trying to make money off of them.

3. Continually staying on top of the latest changes and trends in our field. For Susan as a CPA and myself as a CMA we are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education each year. Even if that is not required in your field, be sure that you are staying relevant.

4. Making sure that we provide the results that we promised. Deliver our best on time every time. Keep our commitments.

I recommend that people everywhere read Stephen Covey's best selling book The Speed of Trust to gain even more insight on how you can increase your own Speed of Trust within your organization and with all of your stakeholders.

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