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In This Issue



A Message from Stephen

Greetings and welcome to the December 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.

As 2003 draws to a close, I find myself thinking: If I had one holiday season wish, it would be for more trust in the world. Because no matter what happens, if people can trust each other, they can work together, they can lead, they can achieve excellence.

However, business trends of the past two decades seem to have driven a wedge between employer and employee, between provider and customer. People are polarized, consensus is harder to achieve, and confidence is destroyed. Over time, the impact of all this divisiveness is the decline of trust. When you look at some of the business decisions today, you have to wonder if leaders are looking out for the best interest of the majority of the people and the planet we live on.

While working with business executives in Singapore, a modern and vibrant commercial hub for Southeast Asia, I have heard many comments about how short-term profit taking – driven in their opinion by the policies and demands of Wall Street –prevents these executives from forming the kinds of business relationships that will sustain profits for years. Instead, they only react to short-term challenges, and often with expedience instead of foresight.

Disillusioned by constant turmoil, changing alliances and unpredictable leadership, employees end up shutting down. They comply with the latest objective, but only give enough to maintain their jobs. The leaders of some of the United States’ largest international corporation fail to understand that their policies are driving the world, and that in exchange for an up tick of a point or two on the market, they are doing long term damage. They seem all too willing to squander the goodwill of people to achieve short-term objectives. Sadly, this cuts off the flow of information, the life-blood of an information economy.

Business leaders must rethink the importance of trust in their organization. Without this important attribute firmly entrenched within the culture of their organizations, they may find themselves struggling to survive in the upcoming years.

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No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency

– Theodore Roosevelt

Some ideas are so advanced they just take some time to get used to

– J. Mac McClellan

Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you have a favorite quote? We’d love to share it with our readers. Just click below and send it to us. We’ll use it in an upcoming newsletter and give you the credit!

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Building Trust Starts at the Top

Often executives are forced to make decisions that may be in direct conflict with other constituents they represent. For example, a “business decision” made to improve the financial situation of the organization may be in direct conflict with the employees, customers or partners of that business.

Two recent examples come to mind. Lloyds Bank in London recently announced that it was going to move a 1,000-person call center from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to India where they could reduce the cost of the service. Thanks to a growing global economy and cheap and virtually unlimited fiber-optic capacity, a company like Lloyds can de-localize their workforce, farming out low-to-medium skilled, labor-intensive jobs to areas with cheaper pools of labor. The business rational is impeccable.

But what is the human toll on trust to the organization and the communities they serve? And are the dollars saved worth the aftermath of the decision?

While Lloyds has assured its Newcastle employees that job losses would be handled with the utmost care and sensitivity and that customer service won’t suffer, you don’t have to be a cynic to feel like this sounds like the bank publicist’s talking. In addition to a public outcry, shortly after the announcement MPs in Parliament talked of corporations “generating profits without a conscious.” It’s too early to tell what the long-term consequences of this move will be, but just think of all the people who have lost a little faith in what is one of the world’s most venerable banking houses.

In another case, Singapore Airlines, suffering from the economic slowdown and the SARS outbreak, reduced employee’s pay by 5 to 16.5 percent and reassigned 600 employees and downsized another 145. Now they too are trying to overcome poor morale. And while employee bad attitudes are bad enough in this highly competitive service industry, the real problem is that high-level employees are walking too. This small national carrier, known worldwide for the best service in the air, has seen 27 pilots resign or take jobs elsewhere. A large number of aircraft engineers, cabin crew and company executives have also fled to better paying jobs elsewhere. It has gotten so bad at Singapore Airlines that, according to the Straits Times, there will be no vote for the executive committee this year since there are only 17 candidates for 19 seats.   

The source of the poor morale seems to be that employees took pay cuts during the tough times when the airline was losing money. But in the last quarter the business made a S$302 million profit. Naturally, employees wanted their wages reinstated. Airline officials announced that they would make a one-time, lump sum payment to compensate for lost wages, but they did not guarantee restoring wages to pre-SARS levels.

In both of these examples business leaders made decisions that appear on the surface to be reasonable and prudent for the health of their respective organizations. However, they failed to look at the impact their decisions would have beyond the bottom line.

Now both organizations are paying a high price for their actions. Lloyds has been forced to put counter-measures in place to stem the tide of negative feedback they have received from both employees and customers. The ultimate cost is projected to be in the millions. Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines has lost a major talent war while all the while risking losing their reputation for providing the best service in the sky.

What could the leaders of these businesses have done differently to balance both business objectives and maintain trust? 

Looking at the Six Partnering Attributes, namely Self Disclosure and Feedback, it’s clear that the leaders of both organizations needed to communicate more with employees and customers before planning a big change. Both Lloyds and Singapore Airlines could have held employee and community input meetings to discuss the issues and to solicit feedback. By “going public” with an issue, leadership would have built credibility with people rather than appearing to act behind their backs.

More importantly, these meetings would have generated a torrent of information, which might have contained a gem of a solution that would have led to a win-win outcome. You skeptics out there might say that it’s overly idealistic to hope for such an outcome, but the point is for business leaders to at least try. Even if the organization still ends up making a hard decision, by involving people and being honest with them you will at least keep their trust.

Self-Disclosure and Feedback are not optional. If you don’t employ these key Partnering Attributes you will have mistrust. Leaders who continue to believe that they live in a closed world and that people don’t see or understand the consequences of their decisions are kidding themselves. In fact, if anything the world is becoming more and more transparent. Thanks to the Internet and 24-hour cable news, leaders who think they are engaging in cloak-and-dagger escapades now appear silly at best.

When confronted with a tough decision, here are some steps that you can to make your employees and customers feel like partners instead of victims:

The most powerful way to build trust is by talking about trust. Executives cannot evade their responsibility to talk about this important element of business life. Damaging trust is costly. Sometimes the impact of damaged trust can take decades to overcome and cost millions of dollars. To insure your organization is prepared to talk about trust, or to establish a trust indicator as part of your corporate measurement system, contact us at:

+1.612.375.0323 - Worldwide
+1.888.292.0323 -Toll Free USA
+1.612.317.0713 -Worldwide Fax

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Building Your Toolkit

Do You Have A Trust Infrastructure At Your Workplace?




1. We have a company wide indicator monitoring employee trust.


2. We have defined trust in our organization.


3. We have formalized processes for building trust.


4. We take corrective action with those who damage trust.


5. We solicit regular feedback on other’s perception of trust with us.




If you answered “No” to two or more of the above questions, you probably do not have a Trust Infrastructure in place within your organization.

To learn more on how to build a Trust Infrastructure at your workplace, contact us at:

+1.612.375.0323 - Worldwide
+1.888.292.0323 -Toll Free USA
+1.612.317.0713 -Worldwide Fax

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From the Field

Trust at Work – Stephen M. Dent

I’ve written parts of this newsletter while traveling though Southeast Asia. Whether visiting with clients or reading the local newspapers I feel like I am being constantly reminded about the importance of trust in the workplace. Articles in Singapore’s The Strait Times and Bangkok’s The Nation both stressed the need to build trust not only between nations, but also within business organizations.

Bangkok’s The Nation recently reprinted an article from London’s The Guardian that contained a sidebar filled with what the British might call some “cheeky” advice for how to run a company:

I’ve often said that people talk about the things they need. Building and maintaining trust is a global topic. As we move towards an information- and knowledge-based economy, those who cannot establish and maintain trust with their partners, employees, and customers will end up alienated from the greatest source of wealth of all—the network. Information sharing requires trust. And if you cannot build trust you will be denied access to this life-blood of the new economic system.

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On the Topic

Building Partner-Friendly Environments at Work is all about building a trusting environment. Read what James R. Long, Ph.D. and Daniel D. Elash, Ph.D. has to say about it in this excellent article online at:!ddepartner.html

 In The Trusted Leader: Bringing Out the Best in Your People and Your Company by Robert Galford and Anne Seibold Drapeau learn about the three types of trust – strategic, personal, and organizational – that organizations need for success. Read it online at:!rgasdtrust.html

 Tip-toe the Tightrope of Trust – A Manager’s Guide to Success by Jody Urquhart provides great insights into the personal behaviors managers need to engage in if they are to build and sustain trust in their company. You can read it online at: at:!urquhart6.html 

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News and Announcements

  Everyone at Partnership Continuum, Inc. and our strategic partners at ServQ wish our friends and clients a Happy Holiday Season.  Our greeting to you is Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards All!

From: Stephen Dent, Phyl Burger, Neal Holtan, James Krefft, Cindy Browne, Nancy Cosgriff, Dean DeGroot, at PCI and Andrew Crossley and Ian Watson from ServQ.   

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 is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to improve his or her partnering skills.

Check our Web site for details:

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 on creating great partnerships and alliances.

To learn more about my topics, or to arrange for me to speak at one of your events, contact us at:

+1.612.375.0323 - Worldwide
+1.888.292.0323 - Toll Free USA
+1.612.317.0713 - Worldwide Fax

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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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