It all starts with surrounding yourself with the right people. Whether hiring in, delegating to or collaborating with, trusting the communication from the other person remains essential. Let’s break down why:
- When hiring, mutual success of both parties stems from how the individual will integrate with the established culture.
- When delegating, optimized results depend on consistent quality for work completed.
- When collaborating, the value of advice from an unknown perspective demands a reliable source.
We know this, but do we apply these things in our decision making? How often do we drive decision making by attributing a higher value based on what we think someone knows? How often do we ask ourselves how much we trust them?
So how to assess trust? The funny thing, we do this already. What we don’t do:
- Apply trust to our decision making consistently
- Consider trust deliberately in terms of how we assess it
In my experience, my favorite methods to select who I trust combine the following:
What they say
Consistency in which they represent a certain point of view or define a certain value
Positioning they take when things don’t go according to plan
Communication when they see something that does not coincide with their perspective
What they do
Accountability in relation to an unfavorable result
Objectivity in assessing a situation regardless of what the best course of action looks like
Reliability in performance within their circle of influence
Writing this article, I noticed that these qualities in ourselves surface with unexpected opportunities. While challenge captures our attention, our focus shifts from guarding our persona leaving what we’re made of.
A practical illustration…
A client asked me to vet a potential hire for a sales position in their start-up. During this process, my client set the expectation to provide two references which the candidate provided. One of the references was the individual’s current employer which the person later realized might not have been a smart move and retracted that reference.
At this point, I felt the candidate did not display the best judgement, though this was not my concern during the interview. Later in the interview, the above was mentioned to unveil something I believed relevant for my client to see – the candidate’s response to constructive criticism - critical to sales.
The interview continued and at the end the candidate inquired about their interview performance – there was my opening. Beginning with what I liked (multiple positions supporting relevant experience, consistent tenure through career evolution etc.), I proceeded to answer the question asked. Then I explained that with a start-up, proper positioning remains fundamental to represent the service offering - critical to optimizing conversion. The interview process itself implies best behavior and judgement. The candidate's decision to first offer and then retract a reference demonstrated judgement that would ultimately hinder how that person was perceived. My explanation was not welcome nor well received. Obvious body language, while subtle, betrayed the candidate's displeasure with my feedback. Later, confirmation came from my client regarding this suspicion.
Why did I stir the pot?
To remove the person's guard on their persona with the intent to provide visibility on a core characteristic – the reception of constructive criticism. In a start-up environment, even with smart people and a basic work structure, pivots remain expected. Progress demands collaboration especially when a company’s history contains no established successes to suggest repeat behaviors.
At this point, one might ask, "Did the candidate get hired or not?" The question I asked:
"Would the time investment to develop this resource's ability to accept constructive criticism be worthwhile?"