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Trust in Multifamily

Our VP, Caroline Ferguson, spends quite a bit of time on LinkedIn. Recently, she was inspired by a post by one of our industry partners that talked about why "trust" is so important within our companies and our industry as a whole. After reaching out to see if this industry partner would be willing to share her insight on trust within our industry, Stephanie Grant, the Director of People at Olympus Property, was more than willing! Read on to read her insight on the importance of trust specifically as it pertains to the industry we serve.

When I was asked to write about the topic of trust in multi-family and why it’s so important, I was, of course, happy to do it! That said, I think the broader subject is that of trust in industry – any kind of industry – not just in multi-family, so I will do my best to weave multi-family specifically into the discussion since this is where we “live,” so to speak.

The simple definition of the word “trust” is this:




Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

"relations have to be built on trust"

For Olympus Property, Trust is one of our core values, and we verbalize it as follows with all of our team members:

“With integrity, we hold ourselves accountable to the highest ethical standards while making decisions for our customers, investors, and each other.”

We truly believe that trust is at the crux of what we do every single day, and that trust goes both ways – it is not a one-way street. As team members, we trust in our leaders; as leaders, we trust in our teams. As team members, we trust in the relationships with our residents, and do everything we can to ensure our residents trust in us. Our investors trust in our owner, leaders, and our teams to protect their investments; and we trust in our investors to continue to support us throughout our portfolio.

“Truth” is one of the terms used in the definition of trust. As an HR leader in the organization, it is important to me to be able to share the truth about any situation with any of our team members. Especially in times like these, only by being transparent and willing to tell the truth about what is happening can we earn the confidence and trust of our team members. At Olympus, we share early, and we share often. And while the truth may not always be what someone wants to hear, there is tremendous power in truth in that it creates a wakening of sorts through information-sharing that can bring a calm and strength to the relationship between two parties.

So many leaders aren’t willing to tell the truth, and the reason is almost always out of fear. They fear someone will be upset. They fear retaliation. They fear someone will leave. They fear their teams may not have the capacity to understand what they are sharing, so they choose not to share at all. Even worse, some don’t want to tell the truth because they fear how they will be perceived if they do.

Unfortunately, and inevitably, the opposite happens. If people do not hear the truth, they are left to draw their own conclusions about what they suspect may be happening – and I promise you – what they are concluding in their minds is always going to be worse than the actual truth.

There is an old phrase, “honesty is the best policy.” I firmly believe in this philosophy. That said, I also believe in the one that says, “honesty without sensitivity is brutality.” Have you ever had someone in your life that was so brutally honest it was hurtful any time something came out of his or her mouth? I have! It’s brutal!

While I am a firm believer in sharing information truthfully and completely because of the tremendous power it has to build trust, I also believe there is a right and wrong way to deliver those messages. Having a trust-building, truthful conversation is successful when there is sensitivity and compassion and factual information in the message – AND the conversation is a “two-way street,” allowing for reaction, questions, reassurance, and time. If you deliver the truth, albeit with sensitivity, and then walk away too quickly, trust in that conversation and relationship can be eroded from the lack of opportunity for your conversation partner to feel your attention to their needs.

One of the principles of a “Fierce” conversation (read the book, Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott), is that “the Conversation IS the Relationship.” Powerful stuff. If you don’t take the time in the conversation and speak with someone versus “at” someone, you will not have the relationship and then by definition, you will also not have trust.

Leaders who recognize that truthful conversations (with relationship) will build trust and enjoy the loyalty and increased performance of those who follow them, invest with them, and work alongside them – no matter what. Those who don’t will absolutely see the very things they are afraid of – turnover, loss of investments, poor performance, disengagement, poor reputation, and more.

The best leaders in the world trust their teams to execute in their roles. They also trust that those whom with they have a relationship, truthful conversations about just about anything can be had without damaging that relationship. In any company…in any industry. It takes time and it takes courage.

But boy, is it worth it!

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