The trust tax was first introduced in 2006 by Stephen M.R. Covey in his best-selling book The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything.

At its core the trust tax is the price that organizations pay due to low trust.

Product Managers must understand the trust tax and avoid paying it at all costs.

I’ve heard of Product Managers who feel like they are removed from the vision and strategy of the product and function more as Delivery Managers than Product Managers.

When I hear about experiences like this I immediately think about the trust tax.

If Stakeholders don’t trust the Product Manager they give them solutions to deliver (instead of problems to solve).

As you can imagine, this under-employs the Product Manager, deals a negative blow to moral, reduces ownership and as a result bad products get shipped (if any at all).

Now for the important information.

How do Product Managers avoid paying the trust tax?

This may sound corny but attitude is everything. You attitude and energy towards the Stakeholders problem sets the tone for that interaction. Get excited about their problem and they will trust you with the solution, instead of forcing it onto your backlog.

If you read two books this year make them The Speed of Trust and How To Win Friends and Influence People.

Secondly, you have to Get Shit Done (GSD). The soft and snuggly world will tell you that that the idea of “bringing solutions, not problems” is archaic but in reality you are compensated to do a job and a healthy dose of figureitoutedness is expected of your position.