Could Trust Be the Secret Ingredient?

August 11, 2017 1:33 PM | Laura Chartier (Administrator)

Written by Guest Blogger, Jackie Zahn, Senior Instructional Designer at The Cara Group and past presenter at the June 2017 SEWI-ATD event, 10 Free or Cheap Tools to Make Your eLearning Courses Amazing

As a seasoned Instructional Designer and admitted tool-junkie, I’m often asked to comment on new industry software and tools.  Every year a new group of ID graduates will link in with me and ask the same question, “If I learn this tool, will I get steady work as a consultant?”  My response of course is that it’s much more complicated and involves taking the time to learn about the client’s needs, what they are/ aren’t communicating, deciphering what they really need versus what they think they need and finding a way to keep the training material relevant and useful to the learners.  And this is the stuff you learn only through experience, right?  Bad news for the newbies. (Read on, there’s good news coming up.)

Well, a few months ago I started developing a course centered on the book The Trusted Advisor. It’s not new and most salespeople have probably heard of it.   I approached the book as I do most business books (yawn), flipping back and forth, running google searches, and then I ran into this phrase:

"The right to solve problems is earned by informed listening, which in turn is driven by curiosity."

My interest was piqued -- I’m curious and I like to solve problems!  So I kept reading and learned about the 4 key components of building trust: credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation.  Winning trust requires that you do well in all four components.   

How important is trust for an instructional designer?  Well, this book was written for salespeople.  However, once I discovered their self-assessment quiz with the following three questions, I quickly realized the parallels to instructional development consulting:

  1. Do people tell you they’re at ease with you?  (They have a good sense of who you are, they feel they know you, they know what to expect when they see you and deal with you.)
  2. Do people see you as a logical and clear communicator?  (What you say makes sense and people compliment you on it.)
  3. Is this true of you?  You don’t focus on blaming others when things go wrong:  you focus on the learnings, and move on easily from disappointment, without attachment to the past?

I scored above average with a 9.9.  Is that good, I didn’t know.  That day I had my sister take it (score=4.9), my project manager best friend (score=4.8) and my Mom (score=7.6).  This is how I knew I was on to something.  After a few confirmation phone calls to clients, I learned I am a Trusted Advisor

Trusted Advisors have contracts that keep renewing, are called upon for more complex strategic issues, and have clients that feel like friends.  Their recommendations are listened to because clients feel that the trusted advisor has their best interests at heart.  Trusted Advisors are driven by curiosity to learn about training audiences, client needs, future plans, and even the latest tools to bring things to life.

Great news for the newbies:  3 of the 4 components of trust aren’t tied to experience.   Do you have a low self-orientation?  If so, you might be closer to success than you realize.

Take the test for yourself:

…and download the FREE whitepaper results.


Jackie Zahn

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