How To Build Trust, Broadly Across Organizations

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By Alexa Ward

What's On My Mind

Here's the fourth in our four-part series on trust...a great series to work through with your entire team.

In the last three weeks, we covered the three questions your clients are asking about you.

  1. Do I trust you?
  2. Do I trust your team?
  3. Do I trust your organization?

Click HEREHERE and HERE to revisit the earlier articles.

This is a great series to read in order, both individually and with your teams.

Today, we'll go deeper into the last question of trust building: building trust across organizations.

​This is where the client or strategic partner asks...

Do I trust your organization?

This is tough.

I think this is the trickiest level of trust.

​It's tricky because it can seem mysterious. When do most people at an institution trust another institution?

​Here's one way you can tell.

  1. Write down the key decision makers and influencers at the client.​
  2. Ask: How many people in your organization do each of them trust?

(Aside: this is a powerful exercise to go through as a team! It's sort of an organization-wide trust audit and will definitely result in important insights and actions.)

​My guess: Once the majority of the decision makers have a trusting relationship with 5+ people at your organization, you've got organization-wide trust.

How would your team rate yourself?

​Here's the trap to avoid.

​Don't worry about one person on your side being the key leader and having a disproportionate role in trust building.

​That's normal–the client expects it. You can incorporate other specific experts into the relationship alongside your client leader, aligning your top experts with the roles and passions of their leaders. Shoot for 5+ per decision maker.​

Now, let's get to why this is important.

The biggest solutions are going to require it.

​To make a BIG impact, you have to build trust in your entire enterprise.

​More on how below!

What We Just Created

Wow!​

I know I frequently talk about our podcast guests in this section, but this one is really something special...

Dr. Henning Streubel.

​Henning is a Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG. He's also one of their senior most leaders, running a big chunk of BCG in North America.

​And he's one of my favorite clients ever!

​Let me start here: HENNING CRUSHED THESE INTERVIEWS.

​Seriously, his wisdom and insights are worth watching. And rewatching. And rewatching again.

​Here's a rundown of what to expect:

HERE we talk about how to deepen relationships with clients.

HERE we build on the prior episode and go deeper with more strategies to build trust and connect with others. (Watch this one after the prior episode...)

HERE we talk about organizing your thinking and effectively communicating in meetings.

HERE Henning shares an inspiring story where he had to turn a bad situation around–amazing!

HERE we finish the series with advice Henning would give his younger self, including how to keep moving forward, even in the midst of setbacks. We go deep into one of the mindsets I believe makes Henning quite special. We can all learn from it.

​Henning is not just one of my favorite clients ever. He's one of my favorite people ever.

​He shares insights in this series that go far beyond the business world.

This is wisdom we can use in everything we do.

What To Linger On

So how do you build trust across an entire organization?

I'll break the steps into early-stage and later-stage relationships because the traps and tactics are so different.

Early-Stage Relationships

There's a trap of early-stage relationships.

You're usually hired for one specific thing, which is a small subset of how you could help your client.

Enter Status Quo Bias.

The client will naturally be anchored on what you're initially hired to do.

Your strategy against Status Quo Bias—keep introducing other helpful experts.

Too many professionals think, "I can't introduce others because I need to show the client I'm focused on the work they hired us to do."

That's hogwash. 

Of course, you need to do great work on what you're hired to do.

Doing that is not a limiter whatsoever to introducing other people.

When you introduce others in a purely value add way–being helpful in short, topical sessions your experts lead at no charge–you can introduce as many others as it makes sense.

(Of course, this is the Give To Get model we talk about in GrowBIG Training and in Chapter 5 of The Snowball System.)

Team Question: What needs have you heard from the client? Who from your organization would be helpful to introduce to them? How can you make the initial introductions in a way that adds value in the first meeting?

Clients want us to help them see around corners.

​They want our offers of investment.

​Double down on your investments, especially with early-stage relationships.

​Blast through Status Quo Bias.

​You'll broaden how the client thinks of you by offering valuable Give To Get sessions with a wide variety of experts.

Later-Stage Relationships

There's a trap in later-stage relationships too.

Taking the relationship for granted.

​It's easy to do for one simple reason—things are going well!

​The client thinks of you for lots of things and you help them with lots of things.​

Sounds like bliss, right?

​Like above, the deeper Give To Get investments are necessary, but they usually happen more naturally, usually because the clients ask for them in addition to you offering them.

But here's where things can go off the rails—when there are not enough strategic conversations.

​We had this happen recently.

​Great, long-standing client. Awesome people. Outstanding results together for over a decade. We love working with them.

But it's been forever (specifically, one pandemic) since we popped up a level and had our whole team talk to their whole team about their priorities, the work we do together and what could be improved.

​We used to have an annual lunch to talk about things, but the pandemic threw us off our game.

Simple solution—shorter, quarterly scheduled video calls.

These can be put on the books a year or more at a time. Top to top meetings for maybe for 45 minutes or so, popping up a level to talk about what's on their agenda, what we think should be on their agenda, and aligning on what we'll do next.

It's super easy and really powerful.

Team question: Who on your team should meet periodically with whom from the client team? What cadence makes sense? What should be discussed? How can you approach the client to set these up?

Setting these meetings up ahead of time will ensure you have them. That's most of the battle, so you and your client have won big when these meetings get in the diaries!

​It's time to close out this four-part series.

​I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

​Remember you can go back and check out the older articles HEREHERE and HERE to get the entire picture.

These are great to go through as a team, so feel free to forward these around and tackle the questions at your next team meeting.

​There's one thing for sure.

​The fastest way to grow is by having a differentiated expertise and building trust with the right people.

I know you've got differentiated expertise if you're a part of this community.

​Clients need your big brain.

​They need your team's collaboration.

​They need your organization's expertise and ability to solve tough problems.

​To help your clients more and focus on the long game.

Slow down to speed up.

And get your entire team aligned to...

Build trust, together.

​Mo