Trust Me?

Loss of trust can be costly to businesses

As the Dow ricocheted down 6000+ points, it knocked both businesses and people off the shelf of financial stability. Looking at the shards of a broken economy on the floor of this recession, what is the legacy we find in the rubble? For one, a loss of trust.

Yes, we’re having a “trust issue.” The domino effect of bad decisions, bad management and outright theft by people we trusted has toppled both small and large companies, and heightened the fear factor in every business transaction. A bow to the Madoff’s of the world for making the new reality a much more sober world than before.

It’s time for trust to make a comeback.

Of course, the recent events didn’t start trust’s downward slide. Even before this sweaty-palms recession we had come a long way from the time contracts were sealed with a handshake. And, with every new safeguard, the cost of running a business continues to rise. The cost of loss of trust is in the contracts and insurance policies that protect us against someone, anyone, who could betray our trust. It can also be counted in the people who guard the trust fortresses—attorneys, insurance advisors, consultants and specialized accountants.

The cost of the loss of trust puts up barriers to business growth. For many small businesses it means saying “no” to potential business from large firms whose batteries of attorneys prepare contracts that can be weighed in pounds and measured in inches and which demand carrying high insurance coverage as the ticket to becoming a supplier.

It’s time for trust to make a comeback. No, not the naïve trust characterized in those old black and white movies seen on TCM, but real trust based on ethical behavior, keeping of commitments and being accountable. While the global economy can be a giant Petri dish for the growth of corruption, most of us live in a more localized world.

People buy from our companies, hire us, recommend us and, yes, trust us based upon the thousands of small decisions and actions that demonstrate our character. Rebuilding trust in our institutions and businesses starts with each of us—and it matters. Trust me.