As some will have noticed, our winter sun holiday is over and now a distant memory. The sun of southern Portugal had opened the wardrobe doors of summer seasons past, so whilst adjusting to the Weston super Mare climate and packing away the espadrilles, I found myself pairing socks! Not just any socks, but nondescript, slightly bobbly, slightly faded trainer liners!
So what’s this got to do with anything, I hear you ask?
Well, other than it being a job which I hate and something that reminds me of the herculean task that my mother would bemoan frequently of, it actually has a lot to do with something that is central to all I am – Trust.
When I was a lad, at Barr Beacon Comprehensive school in the West Midlands, I distinctly remember the sound of playground bullies, who, having identified my odd socks and mal-ironed Farah trousers proceeded to demean this fat kid, like only bullies can. On this occasion, I had no defence. No big bones to blame, no posh accent to hide, I simply had to admit defeat and that the one person I put my trust in (at that time, of course) to make me look smart for school, had messed up! My mother was the cause of my bully induced trauma!
Now we’re some thirty years on and words such as accountability, integrity and trust form part of every corporate training session. Indeed in my own work and whilst developing the mobilementor.me concept, these are words I use professionally, but at 13 years old I blamed others for my being bullied (as well as looking like a circus clown!)
So, in this tale of woe, I’ve admitted my mis-aligned blame, my lack of accountability and the fact that I wear my heart firmly on my sleeve. What I’ve also tried to do is to highlight a key asset that’s in very short supply in the UK today, Trust.
In the past six years or so, we’ve seen a significant erosion of trust in our Financial Services providers, not dissimilar to that ensued on Estate Agents following property crashes, the Police following a speed camera fine and the HMRC following a tax demand. In these instances, the commonality is that we move to blame, before we take accountability for doing 40 in a 30, for over-stretching ourselves on that four bedroom house or for just earning too much money and having to pay super tax! The same level of blame has been levied on the banking community for extending just too much credit to too many people – I want jam today, not tomorrow.
What I’m not saying is don’t be critical of how the financial services industry ran itself in the good years, indeed there were many tales of irresponsible lending and less than prudent due diligence in some organisations, however sometimes we need to look closer to self.
If we are going to create a big society, where we’re all in it together and have a conscience and appreciation of civic pride, we need to primarily be honest with ourselves, admit our weaknesses, develop our senses and frankly, get over the blame culture. Then we can move forward.
Our society requires us to take accountability for our decisions, but importantly requires a level of trust in our Government, our local constituents, our neighbours, colleagues and fellow country dwellers.
I’ll give you one example that a client of mine discussed with me. He recently received an unauthorised overdraft charge of £25 from his bank. He complained and received a standard explanation. He complained again and received a further explanation, but was also accruing interest charges on the charge. In the end Mr X had accrued £80 worth of charges, had spent over two hours on the phone and writing letters and had set up blogs and twitter feeds demeaning the big bad bank. He spent the following six months plotting his revenge, even stealing pens from bank branches to ‘recover’ his funds.
Mr X had a perfect credit record, had a high paying job and is a responsible father.
So, who lost trust? Both parties. Mr X lost long-standing trust in the bank as he thought their actions to be petty, despite the charge being prescribed in terms and conditions. The bank lost trust in Mr X, as the charge rapidly became an unauthorised debt. Both parties lose out.
This is a pretty common example in retail banking, but think about how this type of situation could manifest itself in other day to day scenarios and how you, personally or in business can overturn a lack of trust and turn it into a distinct business advantage. If you can have the fortitude to do this, you’ll soon see the benefits of developing a unique position.
I’ve spoken and been critical before of Tesco and the laissez-faire approach of some of their employees, but to be fair, their approach following the horsemeat saga has been inspirational. Whilst they’re not out of the woods yet, given time, this open and honest approach should have positive effects to their teams, their customers and their bottom line.
So, are we, nay you, missing a trick? How well do you know yourself? Do you trust yourself to make the right business or personal decisions? How well do you know your right hand man, your teams, your colleagues, your customers?
On a scale of 1 – 10, if you’re not top quartile, you’re simply not getting the best from your input and not seeing the best results from all that effort.
Whatever situation you’re in whether it be personal, student, business, corporate, retirement, get in touch. Let’s understand Trust in ways that even this long segue can’t quite do justice!