The strength of trust is earned through promises made and kept—meaningful promises in which the keeping delivers fair value to everyone concerned. But...the thing about trust is that the need for earning is never finished. Customers and competition dictate that trust follows from perseverance and discipline, and an unflappable willingness to provide the service that’s expected. Trust thrives on expectations. Fail to meet them and trust evaporates.
Among the reasons why a few companies that have lasted a century is that they take their own history very seriously and understand the value of keeping their reputations fresh (the diligence that earning trust requires). Yes, building a lasting reputation for quality is about pride; but they have also been able to encourage internal culture of trust among the people who form the leadership and the teams who deliver the work and achieve its results.
Companies whose business involve technology were established to accommodate innovation and end up being sustained over decades by family involvement with the dictates of craft where skills take years to develop—especially in disciplines where change is nearly constant. Guarantee Electrical Company takes its name from their original “guarantee”, which was to provide power and light to the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904. That assurance of trust was realized then, and has been continued in hundreds of iterations over the succeeding 116 years.
Recently these traditional structures have evolved into robust models of employee ownership coupled with management techniques that feature collaboration and teamwork internally and between the company and its partners.
Trust is the first requirement of craftsmanship and in many respects constitutes the first best practice anywhere that expertise is essential to performance: whether in professions like medicine, law and engineering, or wherever technical know-how drives the work being done.
Trust is at the heart of safety in the construction industry, and especially in electrical work, where trust has to be earned every working day. Among the ingredients that breed such trust is internal cohesion—formed from trust created between workers and their supervisors, and between contractors and their subs. The first happens in an environment characterized by fair dealing and clear communications. Challenges are easier to meet when directions are clear, and where workers are free both to ask questions and to make suggestions about means and methods.
Interdisciplinary trust is in many ways more complicated. Traditional silos of the trades can interfere or not, depending on the openness of the team members to sharing ideas. Among recent improvements in construction technology has been the role modeling software has had in improving the quality of field operations. Through shared access to a well-executed 3-dimensional model, collaboration becomes the norm as the trades can better anticipate and respond to potential clashes without losing time, money. Having and sharing access the model fosters trust. Without that cohesion, doubt and suspicion replace teamwork that’s based on the sense of promises made and kept between partners. Every project that goes well demonstrates layers of cohesion. The jobs that don’t aren’t just unlucky. They’re undermined by mistrust that often takes the form of silos of special interest and knowledge
Trust is integral to life and work, and serves at the heart of what makes great teams successful over time. Because in the end, customers expect to obtain the best value for the best work. And when they can regularly trust in outcomes that bring these two superlatives together, they’ll stay with that team and prefer them to the competition.