Credibility is crucial in business. If you have that, everything else gets a little easier. But even if you exude credibility, it’s easy to slip up from time to time. A few missed deadlines or unkept promises can sabotage credibility in an instant.
“Credibility is a bit like Humpty Dumpty – easy to crack and substantially more difficult to put back together,” said Julie Miller, a partner in the firm MillerBedford Executive Solutions, which helps businesses improve strategy, culture and leadership.
Here are some ways to build (or repair) your business credibility suggested by Miller and her partner Brian Bedford:
• Always do what you say you will do. Doesn’t it make you crazy when someone says, “I’ll get back to you tomorrow on that,” and days later you haven’t heard a word? Or, “We’ll make sure you get it on Monday,” and nothing happens? “Don’t be that person,” said Miller. “If you make a commitment to do something, move heaven and earth to do it, or if you can’t – because of circumstances beyond your control – let people know immediately, along with a plan to fix it. Most people will understand if you give them legitimate advance notice.”
• Make your feedback constructive. Most people don’t like giving feedback and like getting it even less. That’s because feedback usually involves suggestions for improvement. That’s why it’s important to give helpful feedback and to do so in a way that won’t offend the recipient. “When you decide that feedback is required, give it some thought and plan what you’re going to say,” advised Miller. “Choose a time and place when the recipient will be most receptive.”
• Accept feedback gracefully. “Feedback should be considered a gift,” said Bedford. “Treat it that way – even if the person delivering it isn’t as gentle as you would prefer. Pay attention, learn, and improve your performance going forward. A willingness to accept and incorporate feedback also helps your credibility, because it shows that you put your work, not your pride, first.”
• Under-promise and over-deliver. The world is full of people who want to do only the bare minimum. When you push yourself to commit to just a little bit extra, and make sure you get it done, you set yourself apart in the best possible way.
• Always be on time. Sure, there are legitimate reasons why even the most responsible person might be running late. And yes, everybody gets a pass on this one from time to time when life’s curveballs happen. “But by and large, being late – especially if it’s a habit – is disrespectful,” said Bedford. •