Inspired by the book, The Trusted Advisor by David H. Maister, Partner Forces developed a customized trust equation to articulate how we bring unique value to our client relationships.
Why It Matters
As a management consulting firm, our success relies on being an exceptional partner. When Founder and CEO Jenny Stone named the company Partner Forces, she aimed to emphasize the importance of partnership in our industry. This is reflected in our core values, which underpin our relationships with both clients and teaming partners to build trust as we collaborate to lead difference-making solutions.
To build trust from within, we encourage new employees to read The Trusted Advisor to learn about building strong relationships with clients and teaming partners and within our teams. Becoming a trusted advisor is also a key element of our Consulting 101 new hire training. Not only do employees receive on–the–job training, but our managers lead by example, using the apprenticeship model and showing team members how to develop those trusted relationships through our values in action.
In The Trusted Advisor, Maister presents a “trust equation” as a framework for developing a trusted advisor relationship. According to this equation, trustworthiness equals credibility plus reliability plus intimacy over self-orientation. While we agree these four components are vital to building a trusted relationship, we customized this model to the Partner Forces way of doing business. Now part of our Consulting 101 employee training, our Partner Forces custom equation reflects our core values and is critical to our success as we continue to grow:
For each element of the equation, we encourage our consultants to consider the following questions:
- Candor: Do we encourage open dialogue and feedback?
- Determination: Do we apply solution-oriented thinking to our clients’ opportunities and challenges?
- Teamwork: Do we strive for a sum that is greater than our parts? Do we work across the company to leverage our team’s diversity of experience and expertise?
- Self-Focus: Do we focus on ourselves or the outcomes for others? Do we understand the big picture and the value of putting the mission ahead of ourselves?
Our integrity core value reinforces our trust equation. Do we recognize our true selves and focus on bringing integrity and positivity to every interaction?
Our Trust Equation in Action
The following examples illustrate how our team members demonstrate our values in action to tackle some of our country’s most urgent challenges with our clients and partners.
Candor, Integrity, and Positivity in Action. In reviewing a complex Excel spreadsheet, our team member noticed a significant calculation error. She investigated the error and identified potential cascading impacts to hundreds of stakeholders across the country. In the spirit of candor, this team member immediately brought the error to our client’s attention along with a proposed solution. The client greatly appreciated our integrity in raising the issue and proactively providing a recommendation. Showing up in alignment with our core values to address the problem reinforced our role as a trusted advisor with our client.
Positivity, Determination, Candor, Teamwork in Action. Our team had a new client with an extremely busy schedule and some organizational challenges. Bottom line: we were not receiving the direction or feedback we needed to do our jobs. With a solution-oriented mindset, our team faced the situation with determination, positivity, and a sense of humor. We provided focused agendas for meetings and delivered what the client needed ahead of deadlines. We were candid, asking open-ended questions to better understand our client’s perspective and leading difficult conversations about organizational challenges. Our client now trusts our team with the highest impact projects, prioritizes meetings with us, and invites us to internal strategy sessions to provide our thoughts and ideas.
The Bottom Line
Being a trusted advisor to clients and partners is critical to our success. With the Partner Forces trust equation, we teach our team members how to infuse our core values into every interaction and make an impact.
We encourage other organizations to develop their own customized trust equation to bring their unique value proposition to their clients and customers.