Building the Virtuous Circle of Trust.PDF

Personal characteristics although it may seem unfair

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PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS . Although it may seem unfair, individuals have certain intrinsic char- acteristics that help or hinder professional trust in them from the outset. Like it or not, age, gender and prior experience can act either in their favor or against them. Although we are powerless to change these factors, perceptions – and consequently trust – can, in fact, be shift- ed through behavior. IESE insight 26 FOURTH QUARTER 2009 ISSUE 3 This document is authorized for use only by bo pang ([email protected]). Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Please contact [email protected] or 800-988-0886 for additional copies.
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A young Spanish manager put it this way: “You may be 10 years younger than your employee, but you can always be well informed, use the experi- ence of respected individuals to back up your argu- ments, and be open to suggestions from others for improving things.” All this makes it easier for two people working together to take the risk of trusting each other. SOCIAL NETWORKS . Social connections, beyond pure- ly professional ones, have a considerable bearing on the building of trust, since we should not for- get that trust, after all, is the result of interpersonal transactions. The Chinese concept of guanxi is the perfect example in this regard. Establishing some connections beyond the professional realm – such as having been born in the same place, having col- leagues in common, or being friends of the same friends – can create comfortable reference points. Indeed, some of the business leaders we surveyed admitted that they only ever trusted the members of their own network. Granted, that may not be so desirable, and could even end up undermining trust if taken to the extremes of nepotism and cronyism. Regard- less of the rights or wrongs of social networks, the fact remains that social networks do play an im- portant role in the building of business trust. The strength of established relationships between people – whether between departments, or among blood ties in the case of a family business – emerg- es as a decisive factor when it comes to trusting or not trusting someone. CULTURAL VALUES . Culture-based trust can be inter- preted in as many ways as there are cultures. Rus- sians, for example, regard trust within the fi rm as being of less importance than what goes on in private life. For this reason, they believe that the professional relationship should be supplemented with activities outside work, such as attending the theater or going out for drinks together. Pakistanis also make trust distinctions. “Real trust is restricted to a few professional transac- tions and is not broken by minor mishaps, because it is so deeply rooted,” said one manager. They see right through “superfi cial” trust, when a person makes a show of trusting the other person, just to please them.
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