This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

Of the 63,000+ people who have completed Trusted Advisor Associates’ Trust Quotient™ survey (a self-assessment), Reliability comes out 21 percentage points higher than any of the other three elements of the Trust Equation. This isn’t really surprising, given that reliability is the easiest to grasp and execute. Reliability is logical, concrete, and action-oriented.

The bad news: we’re not as good as we think.

Case in point: I’m always interested to see how participants in my workshops handle the pre-work assignment sent via email. Responses are due to be emailed back to me within 10 days, and it takes about 10 minutes to complete. People generally fall into one of three categories:

  • Turn it in late with no acknowledgment (more than half)
  • Never turn it in (some)
  • Turn it in on time (very few)

So while reliability seems like a “slam dunk” in the world of trustworthiness, there’s room for us all to improve. Why? Because consistency matters, and most of us aren’t consistent across stakeholders. If you apply reliability best practices more with clients and less with, say, a Trusted Advisor workshop leader, then you’re not as reliable as you think you are. That’s the rub of it.

An important note: Perfection is not the goal here; there’s always room for error and for our humanity. Most tardy workshop participants don’t realize the difference it would make—to me, to them, and to the other stakeholders with whom they interact—to simply be in touch on or before the deadline (“I’m going to be late”) or to acknowledge being tardy (“I realize this is late, and that may have had an impact on you”).

We all fail to meet expectations; most of us also fail to restore our reliability by letting others know how much it matters to us.

Make it Real

This week, make it a point to do what you say you will do or what’s expected of you—with everyone. Be reliably reliable. And when you are unable to fulfill on a promise, no matter how small it might be, immediately get in communication to acknowledge the impact and reset expectations. What do you notice as a result of this practice?

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).