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Trust: the foundation for a successful relationship

11 May, 2016 - 11:43

One of the most important elements in developing a successful, long-term relationship is trust. Trust affects the quality of every relationship, every communication, and every project. Trust can be defined as the belief that one party will fulfill its obligations. According to Jim Burke, former chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, “You can’t have success without trust. The word trust embodies almost everything you can strive for that will help you to succeed” (Covey, 2006). This key factor must be mutual between all organizations involved, whether they are suppliers of materials or providers of outsourcing capabilities. If mutual trust is established early on, all organizations will benefit through a greater willingness to share ideas, goals, and work together to solve problems Figure 8.2 reveals trust is a function of five different dimensions.

Figure 8.2 Dimensions of trust  
  • Dependability: Is one party making and fulfilling promises to another (Covey, 2006). Dependability can also be exemplified via third party confirmations. For example, a credible source can vouch for a firm when dependability has been proven through past experiences. Product demonstrations and plant tours are other ways companies can illustrate the capability to be dependable.
  • Competence: Is when an organization appears knowledgeable. Demonstrating competence can be the fastest way to increase trust (Covey, 2006). A thorough understanding of suppliers, customers, products, competitors, and the industry demonstrates competence. If a manager understands the relationships they develop, the organization will be perceived as competent.
  • Relationship orientation: Is the degree to which the company puts the partner first (Weitz, Castleberry, and Tanner, 2005). A company cannot be successful if managers are only concerned about their own profits within a transaction. The company has to make their partner feel valued and can accomplish this by tailoring a product or service specifically for its partner. Creating a feeling of individuality usually results in a loyal, reliable partner.
  • Honesty: Incorporates truthfulness, sincerity, and dependability. For example, if a seller has established a dependable reputation, the company is usually perceived to be honest. However, illustrating honesty has many other facets as well. A good partner organization should provide all aspects of the truth, whether it is positive or negative information. Creating a relationship based on a foundation of lies is one of the biggest mistakes an organization can make. Partners typically discover the lies, which may result in the loss of critical supplies and/or highly profitable opportunities. One way to combat this is to create a culture that values and encourages honesty. Studies have, in fact, shown that telling the truth strengthens team-building efforts and increases morale and productivity (Smith, 2007).
  • Likeability: Is finding a common, friendly ground between the partners. The relationships you select should be ones where you would like to increase trust, and where, by improving trust, you would get far better results professionally (Covey, 2006). This is likely the least important of the five dimensions of trust; however it is still noteworthy in the formation of an external relationship.