How a trust contract can help small business

partnerships, trust contract, client relationships

Have you ever signed a long-form contract?

They usually come with a whole raft of terms and conditions, or as we like to call it, the “fine print”.

Few people read the fine print and choose to simply sign on the dotted line as it’s time-consuming and at times confusing, only to be tripped up later for not doing so. You later see a clause that was buried away and it comes back to bite you in the most unexpected way.  

I’m all for the short and sharp, one-pager that has simple terms and conditions that are easily understood, giving the signee a sense of safety that there will be no surprises.

This is how it should be in your small business and when it comes to creating a “trust contract” with your employees. Make it short, sharp and easily understood to ensure there is clarity and a sense of belonging, without the need to prove anything.

Post-COVID, one of the best ways to differentiate as a small-business owner is to create a simple one-clause trust contract that will help you to retain great talent and attract the talent you want to your business. 

The trust contract one clause and three conditions

How’s this for a new way forward without the fine print?

“You don’t have to gain my trust, you have it to lose.”

Then add these three individual elements into the mix:

  • Motive – we have your back.
  • Capability – we know you can do the job.
  • Reliability – we believe you will do what you say you will.

There you go.

Simple with the intent that creates an environment where humans can feel they can thrive without waiting to be caught out by confusion about what trust means in business.

The traditional way was to have other humans earn your trust by working long hours, performing some amazing feat like signing up that client you’ve been unsuccessfully chasing for a decade, or repeatedly delivering on time and under budget on a major project of work. That just results in added and unnecessary self-imposed pressure to get a quick win to prove oneself. Hardly a way to build a safe working environment. 

How do you build this trust?

The first step is to continually reinforce those twelve words to your employees:

 “You don’t have to gain my trust, you have it to lose.”

The second step is to decide when, how and what to communicate to the team on the importance of trust in order to create an engaged and united group which may raise the following questions:

  • How does one show courage and communicate their position on trust to a group of people they have may not have worked directly with before?
  • What if trust is broken?
  • What if it’s me that breaks the trust?

“A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts. The surest way to earn the trust of employees is to show them that you trust them first” – Harold McMillan.

Here again are the twelve words that will serve you and your team well and ensure you have the footings to allow that house of trust to stand the test of whatever conditions it endures:

“You don’t have to gain my trust, you have to lose it.”

What’s your approach to trust?

Is it a long-form tricky contract full of ambiguous clauses or a short form one-pager that all employees can understand and will be lining up to sign?

It’s your choice.

Mark LeBusque, Founder and Director, The Human Manager