Thinking a lot about organizational trust lately and I think that I’ve boiled it down to two key factors.

Competence and Intent.

If either of the two are missing, well so is the trust.

On the flip-side by focusing on becoming highly competent in your role and operating with positive intent you create high levels of trust, execute quicker on cross-functional projects (this is especially important for Product Managers), and gain a seat at the table (visions and decisions).

Don’t lean on likability.

Some people seem to be confused by this and spend too much time focusing building relationships, being likeable, and making friends. The honest truth is that people care more about what you can do for them than they do about your new puppy or that your kids had the same second grade teacher.

This sounds harsh but stick with me.

As a Product Manager you have to be able to prioritize what gets built and this involves saying “no” to your stakeholders on a somewhat frequent basis. By having a track record of being fully competent and having positive intent your stakeholders will trust that you are making the right decision rather than question your prioritization (too much).

But how do you establish your “intent”?

Competence is the easy one. Organizations have all kinds KPI’s and ways to measure whether or not someone is competent. But when you start evaluating intent, it’s a huge grey area. The best way to share your intent is to over communicate, be fully transparent, and start with the why.

Telling everyone that you have good intentions doesn’t mean shit (kind of like saying “trust me”). Show your stakeholders all of your cards and let them arrive at their own conclusion.