January 31, 2022
If a basketball, football, or baseball team wins nine games out of 10, most people assume that it’s an outstanding team. Sports teams do not win every game. It would not be that entertaining to watch the games if they did. But what if a person delivers on their commitments nine times out of 10 times? That sounds like a pretty good record; people do not need to be perfect after all. There is a fascinating interview with the actor Will Smith where he talks about being on a treadmill in a gym and someone is next to him working out. Smith is so competitive that he says he will die before he gets off the treadmill first. While that seems like an overreaction, what would your manager think if he knew how far you would go to deliver your expected results? The big problem with a 90% win record is that people tend to remember when you fail to deliver expected results. Unfortunately, that one time will be the one your boss remembers, rather than the nine successes.
I recently completed a new book called “The Trifecta of Trust,” and I included some research on the effect of having just one person who does not trust you. Often, leaders relate better to some team members than others. A few team members may require some disciplinary action when they act inappropriately. You may find yourself with a team member you feel distrust you. If you have one negative team member, this can (on average) lower the perceptions of others regarding your ability to deliver on commitments. But if you do the math, one out of six should not have a devastating negative impact. In my experience, most managers blame that one person who they feel is negative.
I looked at individual ratings from 60,438 direct 360-degree feedback reports to study this phenomenon. First, I identified managers where no team members rated negatively and others where just one team member indicated their trust in their manager needed significant improvement. Next, I looked at their overall ratings for trust and engagement from all their direct reports. Again, what I found was surprising. Having just one team member indicate that trust needed to be improved lowered the trust rating by 32 percentile points and the engagement rating by 14 percentile points!
Once again, if you fail to deliver just once, that is what is remembered. If one team member does not trust you, the other team members start to ask themselves the question, “If Grace does not trust my manager, perhaps I should not trust the manager either.”
What is the reputation you want to create in your team and with your colleagues? Do you have a reputation that most of the time you will deliver, that most people ought to trust you, or that you usually meet your commitments? My guess is that having that kind of a reputation would negatively impact your career success and your relationships with others. My recommendation is for you to do everything possible this year to create the reputation that you will do everything humanly possible to deliver on your commitments. Ensure that managers and colleagues know that you can always be trusted. Reach out to anyone who may have questions about your trust and consistency and ask what you can do to restore trust.
When I was younger, I used to work with a carpenter who, once a project was completed, would look over the project and say, “That’s good enough for government work.” The government did not do that work; he and I did the work. When an artist completes a painting, they sign their name. Perhaps if we were required to sign our names to our work, we would have a higher expectation of the work we were asked to complete. Strive to make a difference in the world, do great work on every job you are assigned, and build a reputation for doing everything possible to keep your commitments.
Connect with Joe Folkman on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
(This article first appeared on Forbes)
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