Since managers at all levels are initiators of trust when negotiating new deals and partnerships, we take for granted the trust placed in each other until it is lost.

Management need to understand the value of trust and how to promote it in their organisations. Competence, integrity and supplier rapport are a few factors that determine organisational partnership trust.But the elusive nature of trust makes it one of the most difficult characteristics to maintain. Management and supplier partnerships need to feel that they are valued, trusted, and have belief that the partnership is acting with integrity and with their best welfare in mind.

A recent survey by Watson Wyatt revealed that fewer than two out of five managers today have trust or confidence in their senior leaders. So an improvement in the development of trust within organisations and supplier partnerships is needed. Yet recent events in our industry have made it more difficult for managers to maintain trust. This leaves suppliers with a very cynical view of management partnerships, based on their observations that management has often laid ethics aside in order to benefit their own bottom line.

Even in firms that have a clean record, small things can chip away at trust, such as management saying one thing and doing another, forgetting promises, poor documentation and planning.Other unseen costs of mistrust in the partnership include a lack of company loyalty, and decreased commitment.

Distrustful partnerships are not as productive. So it is imperative that companies work to build clear trust in their organisations. Trust is earned when everyone's interests are considered and respected.

John Roberts can be contacted on reaphltd@yahoo.co.uk