Career Opportunities

The High-Tech Career Handbook

A weekly ComputorEdge Column by Douglas E. Welch


November 30, 2001

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In the current environment, you maybe disinclined to trust many things you once thought true, but trust is exactly what your clients, your managers and your peers are looking for right now. The most successful high-tech careerist will always be the one that generates a feeling of trust in all their dealings. If people believe, for any reason, that they cannot trust you, your career will most assuredly stall.


Anytime you work closely with people, in a support role, or with your fellow computer staffers, trust is what keeps productivity moving. If you know that you can trust others to do their job you are free to concentrate on your own. If you can’t trust those around you, or they you, everyone spends so much time checking up on others that nothing gets done.

Worse yet, this lack of trust erodes relationships and leaves everyone wondering who is bucking for the next promotion or who is next in line for layoff. Once again, all the energy is going into worrying, gossiping and backbiting and nothing is getting done.

There are a few commonsense ways to build a level of trust between yourself and others in the workplace. First and foremost, do what you say you will do. Those around you depend on you living up to your commitments. Fail to fulfill a promise, even once, and you will start to fray the fragile cord of trust.

Another bad habit is failing to do what you promise on time. Sometimes this is even worse than not fulfilling the promise at all. Not only have you not delivered on your promise, you have let others believe you have, until it is too late. They have made commitments based on you completing your tasks. When you fail to live up to those commitments others look bad for not delivering on their promises and they look foolish for having trusted you. Not only do you damage your career, but also the career of anyone who trusted you.

If you know you are not going to be able to make a deadline or live up to any promise it is important that you notify anyone who might be depending on you as soon as you know. Perhaps, together, you can develop a plan to keep your promise together. I believe blindsiding anyone is an unforgivable professional failure.

Make a habit of breaking your promises and you will find yourself banished to the least important position in your department or, more than likely, out of a job completely. Others are quick to avoid anyone they can’t trust, either as co-workers or employees.

Into their home

If you are working as an independent high-tech contractor there are a few other trust issues to consider. You need to develop an even deeper level of trust with your clients than you would develop with the typical co-worker. Your clients are taking a big risk inviting you into their homes and offices. There has to be an inherent level of trust on many different levels that allows them to do this. Not only do you have to be trustworthy in the work you do for these clients, you have to be personally trustworthy.

There are a couple of simple guidelines to follow in these special relationships. First, like before, do what you say you will, when you say you will. More importantly, don’t be afraid to say, "I don’t know." You can do far more damage by pretending to know what you are doing. Clients respect someone who is truthful enough to say these words. Of course, it is even more important to tell them that you will find the answer.

You also need to be as accurate as possible on your estimates regarding the time involved in solving a particular problem. If you see that it will take you more time than you planned you need to offer the client an alternative. Perhaps you can make the computer partially functional until they can take it to a repair shop. Perhaps you can give them a workaround. Whatever the solution, don’t leave your clients without a working system if at all possible.

Trust may seem hard to define, but your peers, managers and clients will know it when they see it. Follow the guidelines above and you will be well on your way to developing the trusting relationships that can only help your high-tech career to grow.


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