Are You Smart? If not, you may not be trusted either!

When I was a kid I loved watching reruns of Get Smart, the TV series (1965-1970) starring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, the bumbling Secret Agent 86. Anyone who has seen the show or watched the movie spin-offs knows that Agent 86’s partner, the lovely Agent 99, is the competent one who always bails him out of trouble. Their boss, “Chief,” is frequently frustrated with Maxwell Smarts’ ineptitude, but he has an extreme amount of trust and faith in Agent 99 to keep Smart out of too much trouble and avert mass chaos and destruction.

The reason that “Chief” had faith in Agent 99 was that she had expertise in her role that warranted a high level of trust. She had the skills, relevant experience, and knowledge required to get the job accomplished. Think about the times you haven’t trusted someone. How often has it been because you felt the person didn’t have the expertise to get the job done? Perhaps you didn’t trust an auto mechanic because he didn’t have the know-how to repair your car the right way? Maybe it was the not-so-handy handyman you hired to do some home repairs that turned into a nightmare? Or, bringing it closer to home, maybe you don’t trust your boss because he doesn’t have a clue about the work you do, yet he pretends he does?

The TrustWorks! ABCD Trust Model provides a common framework for building trust in relationships. Trust consists of four elements: Ability, Believability, Connectedness, and Dependability. Developing your expertise and demonstrating competence is a critical component of Ability. You are trustworthy when you have and apply the task knowledge and skills for your job. You can be trusted because you constantly learn and build expertise in your chosen field, and you use your skills to assist and teach others. Having expertise in your job allows others to have a higher level of trust in you because they can be confident that you’ll get the job done right.

So what can you do if you think you have room for improvement in building trust by increasing your Ability? Find a mentor in the area where you need to improve and come up with an action plan to help you develop the skills and knowledge that you need. Seek out continuing education, volunteer for projects that will force you to learn new skills, or work with your boss to set goals around learning and development. In other words, Get Smart!

This is one in a series of articles on the TrustWorks! ABCD Trust Model and building trust in relationships and organizations. Be sure to “like” TrustWorks! on Facebook or follow on Twitter @TrustWrks.

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