The glue that holds our industry together

The glue that holds our industry together

Posted by Toni Carroll on Jul 19, 2016

Like many of you, much of my job depends on forging strong connections with construction industry leaders, including those at Caltrans and other public agencies.

In addition to my new position as Director of Quality at Graniterock, I have served for the past year as co-chair of Caltrans’ Rock Products Committee, which is charged with helping to improve materials specifications and testing methods used on transportation projects across California.

I’m a math and science type, who thrives on data and problem solving.  Over the last decade I’ve found myself in situations where I’ve been able to demonstrate my understanding of how an asphalt or concrete plant works and the best methods for ensuring individual projects pass inspection. 

But no matter how much of the construction science I get right, I can’t succeed in my role as Director of Quality unless I put building trust first in all of my professional relationships.

Whether I’m overseeing the testing of cores from a highway project to provide compaction results, or describing the oil content of a particular mix design, my reputation and Graniterock’s depend on people believing we’re testing correctly and delivering accurate results.

Earning the trust of my colleagues, customers, agencies and community members is vital – it’s the foundation of every discussion I have and commitment I make.

Trust stems from a willingness to be transparent in our work and to own our failures, not hide them or make excuses.

With that in mind, for the Rock Products Committee to be effective, Caltrans must believe the industry members are dedicated to making California’s infrastructure stronger, not simply lining the pockets of contractors. At the same time, industry members should know the committee is attempting to write new specs to build better highways and bridges, not make their jobs more difficult.

Trust doesn’t come easy, and can take years to build as you demonstrate a willingness to listen, practice transparency, share expertise and keep your word.

It’s sort of like a bank account in which trust is the money you deposit and withdraw. You have to constantly be adding more money to the account to keep up with the check writing and cash withdrawals.

One of my favorite experts on integrity in business is David Horsager, author of “The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships and a Stronger Bottom Line.” In his book, Horsager identifies eight keys to healthy trusting relationships.

Each time we demonstrate one of these traits, we’re “depositing” trust into the bank accounts of our relationships.


1. Consistency: The more you conduct yourself with integrity and predictability, the more people know what to expect from you and what you stand for.

2. Clarity: Presenting a clear message shows you’re honest and trustworthy. This is often demonstrated with accurate data and evidence.

3. Compassion: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and show compassion for their struggles. Strong teams are built on consensus and compromise. This is achieved by understanding what the other side wants and working to find solutions that benefit both parties.

4. Character: Always do the right thing. If your words and actions are based on doing the right thing in every situation, people find it easier to trust you.

5. Contribution: The best plans mean nothing if you can’t deliver with positive results. Get involved and share your attention, time, resources and expertise.

6. Competency: Look for ways to learn and grow your expertise. Technology and procedures change over time, so it’s important to continue educating yourself. Admit when you don’t know the answer. That builds character and trust.

7. Connection: Be yourself. Ask questions. Listen. When people feel you care about them, they’re more accepting of your ideas.

8. Commitment: Follow through on your promises and be ready to make personal sacrifices when the situation calls for it. Knowing you’ll be there during difficult challenges goes a long way in building trust.

Personal relationships are the key to our success, which makes it vital to keep Horsager’s factors in mind when building “accounts” with every customer, agency, colleague and community member.

Deposits and withdrawals are not equal when it comes to trust.  You need to build the account over a long period of time to make up for the big withdrawals that can happen if you are inconsistent, unclear, indifferent or disengaged.  Trust is not something we are entitled to, rather it’s a privilege earned through the choices we make daily.   

How will you build your relationship wealth today?

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