An Erosion of Trust

I recently discovered the Trust Matters blog written by Charles H.Green, and recommend it to you. The subject matter is timely and relevant, and I enjoy Green’s writing style: I think you will too. From his About Page:

Charles H. Green is founder and CEO of Trusted Advisor Associates. The author of Trust-based Selling and co-author of The Trusted Advisor, he has spoken to, consulted for or done seminars about trusted relationships in business for a wide and global range of industries and functions.

Centering on the theme of trust in business relationships, Charles works with complex organizations to improve trust in sales, internal trust between organizations, and trusted advisor relationships with external clients and customers.

One recent article in particular grabbed my attention, so much so that I posted it in the discussion section of our MWA group on LinkedIn. I’d love for you to see it too:

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Ho‘ohana Community, this is a must read: An interview with David Maister on the subject of trust presented on the Trust Matters blog by Charles H. Green.

Trust Quotes #7: An Interview with David Maister

We have a great number of challenges within the practice of business today, and I bundle them up into the belief that we have to “get softer and not harder” and focus on our people. This is what the “sensibility of Aloha management” is all about.

However the global recession of the past two years (still continuing, in my view, for still painful for so many) is pushing us in the other direction, where we are process-engineering people out of reinvented business models because labor is so expensive. Ultimately this is a short-term fix, and I understand that it may be necessary for some to survive, however it cannot be our long-term strategy, for it has dire consequences.

Maister illustrates this brilliantly within this interview in the context of trust. At one point, interviewer Green prompts him to help us understand trustworthiness separately.

CHG: Tactically speaking you’ve heard me talk about trustworthiness vs. trusting, with the combination adding up to trust. On which side do you think business needs more work?

DM: I think you have made an incredibly important distinction, Charlie, and it’s a major contribution to get people thinking about it. I think you and I have always believed that you can’t be seen as being trustworthy unless you are prepared to trust, and being prepared to trust is an incredible leap of faith for many people. So, that’s the hardest part for many people.

When people ask, “How can I be seen as more trustworthy?” there’s more than a little hint of “Let’s get to the stage where I begin to benefit as quickly as possible.” Asking “How can I learn to trust more those with whom I want to have a relationship?” demands that people really are taking a relationship (rather than transaction) approach. Unfortunately, there are people looking at “trust’ as an approach or tactic to “do the deal more quickly.’ They underestimate the mindset change that’s really required to make it work.

“Where is trust?” has been a frequent question I’ll receive when I present and people skim over the listing of values I included in Managing with Aloha. I’ve personally considered trust a result of value alignment versus a value on its own, but that’s been my context for it, and the fact remains that we each choose our values to serve us: If you are compelled to choose trust as one of your values, this interview with David Maister will help you form a terrific action plan.

I encourage you to read the entire interview, for it will better explain the “Erosion of Trust” title I chose for this posting. As you can guess, my immediate thoughts go directly to the workplace, and how we Alaka‘i Managers can be better stewards of organizational culture, however trust factors into the quality of each and every conversation we have: How does reading this interview prompt you?

If you are following our Ho‘ohana theme on Talking Story, with our focus on job creation, the connections will practically leap off the page for you.

We Ho‘ohana in Aloha together, kākou. Thank you for reading,


  1. Dean Boyer says

    I was deeply saddened by the article; it’s not that I did not previously realize what was being said but that the article confirmed it. Out of his points, I narrowed my take-aways to: ”¨”¨”No-one knows what rules or organizing principles (if any) can be depended upon.” ”¨”¨”As generalizations across entire professions, we’re all bad at working well with clients.” ”¨”¨Living with integrity was not to be so complex, in my opinion. Do the next right thing. Stay sensitive, be patient, communicate clearly, correct wrongs and follow through. If people are expecting perfection before trusting, it will never happen. I find that people are willing to overlook mistakes when they are dealt with properly and in a timely way. ”¨”¨Of course, some wrongs are damaging beyond repair as we have seen in sports, business, clergy, politics, etc. However, when these wrongs are dealt with properly, in time, trust is rebuilt. ”¨”¨I wonder how much fear plays a role in this whole discussion.

    Thinking about this further, I wonder what are the top “betrayers of trust”? As you think about one, add to the list. I’ll begin with… ”¨”¨

    1. Betrayed confidence (disclosure of confidential information)
    2. Assumptive truth (drawing premature conclusions that are based upon assumption that the whole story is understood)
    3. Political communication (Speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth)

    • Rosa Say says

      I can understand why you felt saddened by the article Dean, for Maister does convey his feelings that we’re going backwards more than forward, and he speaks of an erosion of our basic character. However I also felt his interview was worth sharing because it opens so many doors to us as well: It illustrates what a huge contribution managers can make if workplaces begin to be the place that trust is sought, discovered and enjoyed.

      While it can be useful to increase our awareness of “betrayers of trust” I think we know them well enough: We can feel it when we’re behaving less than admirably. What managers can do is cultivate that workplace culture where there are easy pathways to building up trust on the positive side. I cheered for Maister reading this:

      As authors, consultants and teachers, we (and others) can help a lot with the knowledge and skill parts of understanding trust, and perhaps even (through role playing and practice) help people improve on the behavioral aspects ”“ getting more skilled in conversations for example.

      It appeared at the beginning of the interview, and unfortunately it did get buried a bit in the rest of it.

  2. Kavitha says

    I agree with the fact that you won’t be seen as being trustworthy unless you are prepared to trust. It is a two-way street. Another way in which trust can be fostered is through transparency. In communication and information sharing, transparency must be encouraged. Also, employees need to feel empowered and this can be done by putting employees first and customer second. These tenets were put forth by Vineet Nayar who is the CEO of HCL Technologies.

    • Rosa Say says

      Aloha Kavitha, I believe this is your first comment here, thank you, and welcome.

      And hooray for Vineet Nayar! We managers have to welcome transparency in the workplace, readying ourselves for accepting and then working with what appears, and then follow-up, working with each situation in an equally open and nurturing way. It’s the follow-up, I think, and the manner in which its handled, which is the crucial part.

      People can get uncomfortable with that phrase “employees first and customer second” unless we also stress why: For instance, when it’s our listening approach everyone is likely to win, and as a result, the customer will feel they are first as well.