I recently had to work through an issue with my teenage son. He was having difficulty in a math class and chose not to take corrective action until he had a full-fledged problem. This problem was blocking him from taking an advanced placement class he wanted to take next year. Feeling the sting of disappointment, he wanted nothing more than a quick fix to make this problem go away. I decided to make a teaching point out his need to restore trust before he could hope to achieve his goal. So often, leaders ask their organization for their trust after a setback without addressing the issue of credibility.
In my mind, credibility has three components: intent, a meaningful plan, and necessary skills. When times get tight, employees can question whether the boss’ intention is to achieve his personal incentive goals or the wider goals of the team. Buyers question whether a salesman’s intention is get a quick sale or to follow through on a solution. A meaningful plan clearly identifies roles and the steps to be taken to achieve a goal. Obtaining proper skills and capabilities can only be achieved by identifying the skills the plan requires and making an honest assessment of whether the skills are in place.
Taking the time to build credibility has enormous rewards for a manager. Innovation and productivity rise. Credible leaders are often the difference between profitability and losses. Being closed about your intentions and plans or not giving employees an opportunity to develop the skills they need to be successful will demoralize a team.
For those interested, my son sat down with his teacher and found a mutually agreeable plan that will give him a second chance to get into the class. He will have to prepare himself to take a test at the end of the summer. But, it’s a great opportunity to restore credibility with teachers and his parents.