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In This Issue

A Message from Stephen

Greetings and welcome to the January 2003 issue of the Partnering Intelligence Newsletter, a monthly newsletter for clients and friends of Partnership Continuum, Inc.

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you think might benefit from reading it. Write to me anytime at Your feedback is important to me.

Everyone at Partnership Continuum, Inc. wants to wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2003.

We start 2003 with high hopes that this year will be better than the last. In 2002, we saw the largest devaluation of the stock market since the crash of 1987; increased stress and anxiety from job cutbacks; the dark specter of global terrorism, and snipers roaming our city streets.

More than ever, people are searching for tranquility and security in their lives, whether it's at home or at work. One attribute that can deliver a sense of calm and safety is trust.

As we enter a new year, trust in business is very much on my mind. In September 2002, a Gallup/UBS Index of Investor Optimism Poll found that most employees trust their boss, but not the people who run America's businesses in general. The results also showed that the more actively engaged employees were in their business, the higher their level of trust.

In this month's issue, we will examine how to build trust, the most important of the Six Partnering Attributes.

Executives Must Acknowledge the Importance of Trust

Sometimes when I'm talking to executives about trust, I get the feeling I'm talking to a brick wall. Many executives give lip service to the importance of trust, but fail to see a connection between their own behavior and the amount of trust people have in their organization.

The inability of corporate executives to build trust has a more far-reaching impact than just on their immediate employees. The stock market slide of 2002 was, to a large degree, due to the lack of investor confidence in accounting and financial reporting practices. Investors didn't "trust the numbers" being produced by CFOs, whom they felt were misrepresenting the economic health of their companies.

But not "trusting the numbers" really means not trusting the people behind the numbers. This mistrust of business leaders translates directly to investor reluctance, which then denies businesses access to the capital they need to grow, which then hurts their employees and the overall economy. It's a vicious cycle in which everyone loses.

Trust Building Is Not a Passive Activity

There is a direct correlation between how employees view their company and how customers and stockholders view it. Once leadership has lost the confidence of their employees, that negative energy has a measurable impact on the messages employees--and especially front-line employees--deliver to customers, the community at large, and stockholders.

Executives must take an active role in leading the discussion about trust in their organizations. This is not something to be left to Human Resources or Public Relations. And it has to be more than platitudes on a wall.

Trust is a large word that encompasses many emotions and has many definitions. Leaders first have to know what their employees mean when they talk about trust. Are they referring to the executive's ability to manage the business, or their ability to be candid about the state of the company? While related, these questions stem from two very different aspects of trust.

Task and Relational Elements of Trust

Like the Partnership Continuum Partnering Model™, building trust has two components: task and relationship.

The task component of trust is about believing that others will do what is expected of them. When we question whether someone can complete a project on time or has the skills to reach a goal, this reveals concerns about the task component of trust.

We have identified five competencies that help to build task-related trust. They are: commitment to agreements; competency in skills; consistency in output; making contributions; and the willingness to collaborate on projects.

The relational component of trust is about believing that others want a safe and supportive relationship with you. When we don't believe someone will be candid with us or show compassion towards us, this reveals a weakness in the relational component of trust.

The five elements of trust for the relational component are: commitment to the partnership; the ability to be candid; a willingness to communicate; showing compassion; and demonstrating personal credibility and integrity.

Understanding the aforementioned components of trust will help you create a foundation for discussing what trust means to your organization.

Establishing a First Line of Defense

Defining trust is always the first step. Once you've defined what trust means to your organization, you can go about establishing a first line of defense against mistrust.

First, identify specific behaviors that either support or diminish trust in the company. For example, in the task area of trust you might determine that completing projects on time is a trust-building behavior. While this seems obvious, many people do not make the connection that delivering projects late destroys trust between people. In fact, in some businesses, project deadlines are falsely inflated to compensate for late deliverables. This is not only costly, but can also hurt your business's reputation.

In the relationship area of trust, you might find that candid communication is vital. For example, you might discover that you build trust every time you don't put spin on bad news. People typically see through spin anyway, which puts a double hit on your credibility. Just look at how comedians make their careers out of spoofing politicians. No one wants to be seen as a joke.

Make Trust an Important Organizational Measurement

The good news is that you can measure trust just like you measure product quality or customer service excellence. There is an old saying: People do what they are measured to do. It's true! If you don't measure trust, you risk sending the message that trust is not important to you.

Trust is simple to measure--just ask. An anonymous survey will reveal whether trust is being built or destroyed in your organization. Communicate the survey results to your organization and track them regularly. When you see the amount of trust backsliding, ask why. Also check yourself to make sure you really want to hear the truth. This might be a good time to review your Ability to Self-Disclose and Feedback skills, the first of the Six Partnering Attributes™.

When done properly, a trust indicator can let you know in advance if something is weakening trust in your business. The sooner you know, the quicker you can address it.

This is a small investment in maintaining morale, keeping information lines open and maintaining your good reputation. You'll see the benefits in employee productivity, customer satisfaction, and yes, stockholder confidence. How much is that worth to you?

To learn more about how to build a trust indicator for your organization, contact us directly at Partnership Continuum, Inc. You can reach us at +1.612.375.0323 or by email at

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Examine Your Trust Orientation: An Exercise

Before meeting, distribute the following statements to your team. Then, set up a meeting to share your responses. The outcome of this exercise is a shared understanding of what trust looks like to you and your team. This is the first step in developing trust-building platform.

1. My trust orientation is (circle one) High Medium Low

2. My beliefs about giving trust are:___________________________________________

3. My beliefs about people are:_______________________________________________

4. I trust people when:______________________________________________________

5. What my partner has to know about my trust orientation is: ______________________


Each person takes a turn sharing his or her response to the first statement. (If you'd like, have someone write people's answers on a flip chart.) Then, after everyone has responded to the first statement, debrief the group by asking:

"When it comes to trust, what does this mean for our team?"

Have a brief discussion and get team consensus. You may want to write the agreements down on the flip chart for future reference. Repeat this process until you have responded to all five statements.

This exercise will prepare you in the future for any situation that involves trust with this team.

"Examine Your Trust Orientation: An Exercise" is adapted from The Partnering Intelligence Fieldbook by Stephen M. Dent and Sandra M. Naiman (Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing, 2002), pp. 83. 2002 by Stephen M. Dent.

To order, go online or call toll-free:

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Marketing an Alliance

The ability to build successful alliances is an important success factor for executives and managers. But it is also a critical organizational competency, giving you a competitive edge.

A successful alliance can make or break a deal. Why is that? Because building an alliance is an expensive and often heart-breaking experience. Between 70-80% of all alliances fail to get off the ground. Only 2% last four years or longer. Pretty dismal statistics, I'd say.

Worse, a medium sized firm can easily spend up to $500,000--that's right, half a million dollars--building an alliance, only to see it go down the drain because of low partnering intelligence.

Andrew Crossley, one of the Founding Principals of our UK strategic partner, ServQ Ltd., has published case studies showing how it's essential for businesses to build partnering capacities and then use those skills to provide a value-added benefit to alliance partners.

In his two-part article, Developing and Marketing a Successful Alliance (Reprinted with permission from Construction Marketer Volume 1, Issue 3) Crossley shows how others have been successful in three types of alliances:

Vertical Alliances (case study from Dwr Cymu Welsh Water)

Horizontal Alliances (case study from Gardiner & Theobald)

Supplier Alliances (case study from the Highways Agency and Defense Estates).

To read this compelling and informational article, click here (insert hyperlink to article)

To learn more about ServQ Ltd. our UK strategic partners, go to

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Spotlight on Youth World International

In December 2002, Partnership Continuum senior consultant Phyl Burger went to Quito, Ecuador to facilitate training for Youth World International.

Youth World International serves local churches through training youth workers, ministering to youth and families, and challenging people to develop a heart for the world.

Burger conducted a five-day, customized Building Smart Partners workshop for founder and executive director Russ Cline and his team of twenty. The workshop focused on the utilization of the PQ Assessment and identifying strengths and opportunities within the team. She then worked with Cline's three Program Directors and their teams on identifying key areas of need and forward planning.

"The Partnership Workshop training not only helped us identify issues in our organization that we've ignored for a long time, but also helped us develop a strategy to address these issues," said Cline. "The process was wonderful for our organization and our team. The implementation will make us a healthier, more strategic organization. This training is crucial to our future growth, health and effectiveness!"

Burger has been invited back next year to facilitate follow up training, review successes and continue future planning.

Feedback from Youth World participants:

"Conflict doesn't have to be negative. I learned that I can value the storm."

"Great things happen when two or more people are committed to the process of discovery--in themselves, together and as an organization. Trust is built and effectiveness skyrockets!"

"I was convinced, all over again, how much time and energy and commitment it takes to build and develop relationships and how critically important it is for the health of this team."

"Partnering is a process. This seminar has taken away the frustrations I felt for not getting results with people I tried to partner with. Thank you, Phyl, for all your time, sensitivity and caring!"

"Relationships are so important. They affect how you feel and how well your team will perform. There has to be trust to have any relationship."

Need a Keynote Speaker for Your Next Partner Meeting?

Are you looking for a keynote speaker for your next partnering conference or event? From New York to Kuala Lumpur I've been delighting, informing and helping audiences understand the complexities and nuances of what is takes to build successful partnerships. If you're interested in learning more about my keynote presentations, please contact me at +1.612.375.0323 or

You can also check out our online video presentations at:

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What Our Partners Are Saying

Here's some of what our corporate clients are saying about our Building Smart Partners™ Training:

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On the Topic

A Gallup Poll survey finds that actively disengaged employees are only becoming more alienated. However, hope remains for the most engaged workers. Learn what this respected pollster and their partner UBS say about the role trust plays in engaging employees.

Read it online:

See what Gregory P. Smith, author of the book, Here Today Here Tomorrow: Transforming Your Workforce from High-Turnover to High-Retention has to say about trust in the workplace and keeping talent for tomorrow.

Read it online:!gpsmistrust.html

News and Announcements

Our redesigned Web site is up and running. Check out the new calendar of events and see if we'll be in your neighborhood soon.

The Partnering Intelligence Fieldbook: Tools and Techniques for Building Strong Alliances for Your Business, which I wrote with Sandra Naiman, is now available. Featuring more than 100 assessments, surveys, checklists, and partnering techniques, this book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to improve his or her partnering skills.

Check our Web site for details:

Mark your calendar for the Spring Building Smart Partners™ Training Seminar, to be held March 26-28, 2003, at the beautiful Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas. Save 15% off the fee if you register before February 15, 2003.

For more information, or to reserve your space at the training and receive your discount, call toll-free:

Do you need a keynote speaker to talk about alliances and partnerships? For the past three years, I've been giving exciting and informational talks at conferences and meetings around the world. Several of my upcoming appearances are listed and described below.

To learn more about my topics, or to arrange for me to speak at one of your events, call toll-free:

In January, I'll give the keynote speech at the WEMCO Annual Meeting, sponsored by the American Welders Society. The meeting will be held on January 16-17 at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines Hotel in La Jolla, CA.

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"Trust dies but mistrust blossoms." -- Sophocles

"I trust you because I need you." -- Mason Cooley

"Trust men, and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great, though they make an exception in your favor." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Partnering Intelligence Newsletter is published monthly for clients and friends of Partnership Continuum, Inc. Copyright 2003 by Partnership Continuum, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Partnership Continuum, Inc.
1201 Yale Place, Suite 1908
Minneapolis, MN 55403-1960 USA
Toll-free (U.S.): 1-888-292-0323
Worldwide: 1-612-375-0323
Fax: 1-612-317-0713