Building trust

  • A key aspect of my job is managing / leading stakeholders – whether internal (Partners / colleagues in other divisions / my team) or external (clients / lenders / lawyers / management teams). Learning to quickly build trust has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced; this is crucial for an adviser working in the distressed space as you will often need to tell these stakeholders things they do not want to hear, and this can only be done from a place of trust and empathy. While I can’t pretend to have the answer, I’ve found the following helps build trust: 1. Invest time in getting to know the other person: COVID-aside, spending time in person is hard to beat – be present, be curious about them, don’t be afraid to share. My best client relationships have been where I made the client’s office home and became ‘part of the furniture’. My best internal relationships have been where we have lunch, grab regularly coffees, or go for drinks. 2. First impressions count: prepare, prepare, prepare. Those first encounters with a stakeholder are critical – look the part, act the part, know your lines. Have a zero tolerance attitude towards any errors in those first few emails / deliverables – dot your “i”s, cross your “t”s. The easiest way to kill your credibility is having a table not cast on pg 2 of a report, or misspelling a client’s name on an email. That’s not to say you won’t make mistakes – you will – we all have horror stories (one of mine was giving the wrong numbers to the CEO of a major regulator!) but sweating over the details will minimise these and help you make a great first impression. 3. Know your stuff and don’t bullshit your stakeholders: following on from 2 above, do your homework. Stay up to date with the latest developments in the industry, know your clients back to front, ask questions, and prepare for meetings, no matter how trivial. Credibility is a cornerstone of trust so take it seriously. The other side of the coin is not to pretend you know something you don’t. You will get found out. Let me repeat that: You. Will. Get. Found. Out. Maybe not the first time, maybe not the second, but sooner or later it will happen. And when it does, all credibility and trust will disappear, possibly irreversibly. So if you don’t know, say so. 4. Follow through: if you told a stakeholder you would deliver by 12pm on Tuesday, make sure you delivered by 9am on Tuesday. Underpromise and overdeliver – it’s a cliche for a reason.

The above is an excerpt from a post written by Ken Afrah on 27/09/2020. Ken has 9 years of experience in Finance, Audit and Consulting. To see the entire post, click here.