Trust and MU Extension development work

The vision of MU Extension speaks directly to the importance of trust:

University of Missouri Extension is a valued and trusted educational solution to improve the quality of life in Missouri, the nation and the world.

A national marketing campaign for extension also emphasizes trust:

University extension provides practical education you can trust, to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future.

Trust is crucial in extension development work and is both a short-term and career-long process.

To have trust is to have confidence in another’s integrity and ability. The opposite of trust is suspicion of another’s integrity, agenda, capabilities and performance.

It is time to inspect traditional paradigms of trust and, in many cases, retire them.

Traditional paradigms of trust (which may be myths)

  • Trust is soft.
  • It is slow to build.
  • It is built solely on integrity.
  • You have it or you don’t.
  • Once lost, it can’t be restored.
  • It can’t be taught.
  • Trusting people is risky.
  • Trust is established one person at a time.

Stephen M.R. Covey and Greg Link suggest new paradigms of trust.

New paradigms of trust

  • Trust is hard, real and quantifiable.
  • It is an economic driver.
  • Nothing is faster than the speed of trust.
  • Trust is a function of character and competence.
  • It is the No. 1 leadership competency needed today.
  • It can be created and destroyed.
  • Though restoring trust can be difficult, in most cases it can be done.
  • Trust can be taught, learned, leveraged and used as a strategic advantage.
  • Think trusting is risky? Not trusting people is a greater risk.
  • Establishing trust with one establishes trust with many.

We are operating more and more in a low-trust world. Too many trusted people and organizations have proven they are not trustworthy. Examples come from banking and investment firms, churches and the clergy, media, political leaders and candidates, athletic and sports figures, schools and teachers, and more.

Stephen M. R. Covey asserts that high-trust organizations outperform low-trust organizations by up to 286 percent.

Trust is an economic driver.

Low trust costs — the “trust tax”

  • Everything takes longer, and time is money
  • Litigation
  • Documentation
  • Drains energy
  • High turnover, or people quit but they
    don’t leave
  • Micromanagement
  • Innovation withers and dies

High trust pays — the “trust dividend”

  • Work is completed more quickly and at
    lower costs
  • Lower turnover
  • Higher productivity
  • Move from coordination to collaboration
    and teamwork
  • Innovation thrives

Thirteen behaviors central to trust

1. Talk straight

Build trust by

  • Being honest and upfront
  • Being straightforward
  • Telling it like it is
  • Saying what you think
  • Giving the facts
  • Making your agenda clear

Trust is torn down by

  • Lying or deceiving
  • Beating around the bush, withholding information, double-talking, positioning, posturing
  • “Spinning” communication
  • “Technically” telling the truth while leaving a false impression

2. Demonstrate respect

Build trust by

  • Showing respect for people
  • Demonstrating caring and concern, kindness, love and civility
  • Recognizing the importance of each person

Trust is torn down by

  • Showing disrespect
  • Not showing people you care
  • Faking respect or concern for all
  • Showing respect or concern for some, but not for all

3. Create transparency

Build trust by
  • Being open
  • Being real and genuine
  • Telling the truth in a way people can verify
  • Embodying the principles of honesty, openness, integrity and authenticity
Trust is torn down by
  • Hiding, covering, obscuring
  • Hoarding, withholding, having secrets, failing to disclose
  • Having hidden agendas, meanings, objectives
  • Being illusive, pretending, “seeming” instead of “being”
  • Making things appear differently than they are

4. Right wrongs

Build trust by

  • Not just apologizing, but also making restitution
  • Making up and making whole
  • Taking action
  • Doing what you can do to correct the mistake — and then doing a little more

Trust is torn down by

  • Denying or justifying wrongs
  • Rationalizing wrongful behavior
  • Not admitting mistakes until forced
  • Covering up
  • Hiding a mistake

5. Show loyalty

Build trust by
  • Giving credit to others
  • Speaking about people as if they were present
  • Representing others who aren't there to speak for themselves
  • Not badmouthing others behind their backs
  • Not disclosing others' private information

Trust is torn down by

  • Taking the credit yourself
  • Betraying others
  • Being two-faced
  • "sweet talking"
  • Gossiping

6. Deliver results

Build trust by
  • Getting the right things done
  • Making things happen
  • Accomplishing something
  • Being on time and within budget
  • Not overpromising and underdelivering
  • not making excuses

Trust is torn down by

  • Delivering activities instead of results
  • Doing busywork without results
  • Overpromising and underdelivering

7. Improve yourself

Build trust by
  • Increasing your competence in subject matter
  • Increasing your capabilities
  • Modeling lifelong learning
  • Developing feedback systems
  • Not assuming your knowledge and skills will be sufficient for tomorrow's challenges

Trust is torn down by

  • Continually learning but never getting it done

8. Confront reality

Build trust by
  • Facing issues head on, even the "undiscussables"
  • Addressing the tough stuff directly
  • Acknowledging the unsaid
  • Leading out courageously in conversation
  • not skirting the real issues
  • Not ignoring or hiding from the problem
  • Confronting the situation, not the person

Trust is torn down by

  • Pretending to confront reality while actually evading it
  • Focusing attention on side issues while skirting the real issues

9. Clarify expectations

Build trust by
  • Disclosing and revealing expectations
  • Discussing and validating
  • Renegotiating if needed and possible
  • Not violating expectations
  • Not assuming that expectations are clear or shared

Trust is torn down by

  • Guessing
  • Failing to pin down the specifics
  • Shooting first and then drawing the target after the fact: Ready! Fire! Aim!

10. Practice accountability

Build trust by
  • Holding yourself and others accountable
  • Taking responsibility
  • Clearly communicating how you're doing — and how others are doing
  • Not avoiding or shirking responsibility
  • Not blaming others or pointing fingers when things go wrong

Trust is torn down by

  • Pointing fingers and blaming
  • Finding fault
  • Failing to enforce consequences when expectations are not met

11. Listen first

Build trust by
  • Listening before you speak
  • Understanding what others are saying
  • listening with your ears and with your eyes and heart
  • Finding out what the most important behaviors are to those around you
  • Not assuming you know what matters most to others
  • Not presuming you have all the answers or know all the questions

Trust is torn down by

  • Speaking first, listening last
  • Not listening at all
  • Listening without understanding
  • Pretending to listen
  • Spending "listening" time formulating your reply
  • Focusing only on your agenda

12. Keep commitments

Build trust by
  • Making and keeping commitments — the symbol of your honor
  • Keeping confidences
  • Not trying to "PR" your way out of a commitment you've broken

Trust is torn down by

  • Breaking commitments or violating promises
  • Being casual with commitments
  • Overpromising and underdelivering
  • Making vague and elusive commitments — can't be pinned down
  • Being so afraid of breaking commitments that you don't make any in the first place

13. Extend trust

Build trust by
  • Demonstrating a propensity to trust
  • Extending trust abundantly to those who have earned it
  • Extending trust conditionally to those who are earning it
  • Learning how to appropriately extend trust to others
  • Not withholding trust because risk is involved

Trust is torn down by

  • Withholding trust
  • Extending "False trust"
  • Giving responsibility but not authority or resources
  • Acting as if you trust, but then "snoopervising" and hovering

The bottom line: These behaviors can be taught, learned, leveraged and used to get crucial extension resources in place.

To learn more, see Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy and Joy in a Low-Trust World by Stephen M.R. Covey and Greg Link with Rebecca R. Merrill (2012) and The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey and Rebecca R. Merrill (2006).