A close relative of mine has recently been a victim of an apparently widespread scam known as the courier fraud. The scam began with phone call from ‘the police’ informing her that the security on her bank account had been compromised and there was an ongoing investigation to stop the hackers from emptying her account.
At this point the police officer gave his name as Detective John Bailey and his collar number and asked her to to hang up and ring her local police station to verify both his details and the veracity of the ongoing operation. She followed these instructions and all the details were confirmed by the person that answered the phone at the police station. At this point trust had been established and from then on she was confident to take the steps that were being asked to secure her finances – steps that resulted in over £4000 being stolen from her in a three hour period. The way this was done was depressingly simple – the scammer did not hang up after the original call. So the victim of the scam puts the phone down when they pick it up again they hear a dialling tone (which is a tape) they then dial the number of their police station but it is the scammer that is still on the line.
Not surprisingly this has caused her major distress, however, it is as much the realisation that her trust was misplaced that has resulted in an erosion in her self confidence as the money being stolen. Once we trust someone we often place ourselves in their hands and are willing to take extraordinary risks just think of abseiling and bungee jumping!
Since then I have been reflecting on the power of trust and how important it is for leaders and managers to invest time and energy developing relationships of trust with their staff in order to support them to take those risks and go that extra mile. This comes with a huge responsibility and that is to recognise how precious that trust is and how important it is not to abuse it – it often takes time to develop a trusting relationship but it can be destroyed in minutes by a careless action or comment.
“Trust is like a vase…once it’s broken, though it can be
fixed the vase will never be the same”