The Hispanic culture is, at its core, a non-trusting culture. We have learned not to trust people quickly. We come by this justly. If you have ever lived in Latin America, you will know what I mean.
Just look at our governments. How would you like to live in a country where inflations rates are many times 20 percent to 30 percent annually? In a country where bribery and extortion are commonplace in governments and law enforcement? In a country where you feel you must leave in order to have a future?
I am not stereotyping all Latinos here, or even all Latino leaders. No doubt that there are many honest Latino leaders. However, the level of corruption in our countries, both in government and business, goes far beyond what we know in the United States. I am stating something that every honest and studied person knows to be the truth about our governmental and business systems. As a result, we don’t trust quickly. We are skeptical of others’ motives. We don’t trust quickly, and we are skeptical of motives based on life history and the reality of constant leadership abuses in our countries, whether from government or business leaders.
But, don’t lose sight of the point. When you are raised in an atmosphere in which you cannot trust your leaders, you become skeptical of leaders. You become a skeptical person. Remember that, generally speaking, these leaders have been our fellow Latinos. This being the case, we are likely to transfer the majority of our distrust to our fellow Latinos, not to our fellow Americans.
I have heard many, many Latinos state that they prefer to do business with Americans because they believe they are more trustworthy and orderly in business. You can count on them to do what they say. I have done studies that clearly show that most Latinos prefer having an American supervisor over a Latino supervisor. Why is this? Easy - lack of trust.
Establishing TrustThere is an adage I have heard in the United States many times - “People will trust you until you prove you cannot be trusted.” The opposite is true in Latin America - “People will not trust you until you prove that you can be trusted.”
Now, this is a wonderful thing because once you truly gain our trust, you will also earn a high level of loyalty. The same is not true in the United States. People are quick to trust in the United States - I mean, look at eBay! For obvious reasons, eBay does not flourish in Latin America!
However, people in the United States are not known for their loyalty. The average person now changes jobs a minimum of five times throughout his lifetime. Did you know that the average pastor of a local church in the United States only stays for about two years? And this is to work with people to whom he has given an oath of loyalty and service.
There are two very important applications here:
1. You must learn to earn the trust of your Latino people.
2. Your Latino supervisors and leaders must go the extra mile to gain the trust of the people they are leading.
For all practical purposes, your Latino leaders start off with a trust quotient that is lower than the average American, through no fault of their own. It’s just because they are Latinos and that inbred distrust for our own systems often gets quickly transferred over.
The key here is for you and your Latino leaders to learn how to gain the trust of the Hispanic person. Once you do so, you will have zero (or next to zero) turnover in your companies.
This is very important - if a business has turnover in the Latino labor force, it is due to lack of trust. It is that simple. I am absolutely convinced of this.
Most Hispanics I have interviewed don’t change jobs for 50 cents or $1 an hour more. They don’t if you have their trust because then you will have their loyalty. Before I expound on this point, let me be clear. I do not believe or endorse in any way exploiting Hispanic workers. You should pay people the going rate, or even better, in your industry. You will get what you pay for, that’s for sure.
So, how do you gain the trust of the Hispanic person?
Let me give you an example. If I simply come up to you and say, “Hey, I’m feeling good today, here’s a $20 bill.” Would you be happy with me? Yes. Would you trust me more? No - and perhaps even less. You might even start thinking I was up to something.
You gain no trust when you simply do things for people unannounced, with no previous promise or commitment.
To gain trust, you must consistently keep your word. This is very important, so I’ll repeat it - you must consistently keep your word.
This means that if your goal is to gain trust, before you give something to an employee, you should preface it with something like, “You know, José, if you complete this job by Friday, we’ll have a $50 bonus waiting for you.” When you do something, you should let employees know about your plans beforehand. “When is your soccer game on Sunday? I’ll be there.” Then make sure you give the bonus and, by all means, be at the soccer game.
Again, you gain trust by telling someone you are going to do something and then doing it.
Consistency is KeyMaritza Keen, former executive director of the Latin American Association in Atlanta, told me in an interview, “You gain trust with Latinos in small steps. I think you say, I’m going to do this, and then you do it. And then you move forward. Now I’m going to do this, and then you do it. And so you do those small steps in gaining that trust.”
Martiza is 100 percent correct. When dealing with Hispanics - and for that matter most people - you are much better off doing small things consistently to gain trust than to try to do the big kahuna-type things infrequently.
Americans love the big bonus. In fact, many Americans love the big bonus so much that they will loan the government money for an entire year just to receive a tax return check. Have you noticed that most Hispanics take as many deductions as possible to get as much money as possible in the present? There is no thought whatsoever to getting that big bonus.
I would advise you to give bonuses to Hispanics at the very most quarterly, but certainly not annually. Honestly, if I were running your company I would give monthly bonuses if I were giving bonuses at all. Why is this, you may ask?
First, many empoyees need the money now. Imagine that you came to this country for the main purpose of supporting your family back home.
Imagine knowing full well that your family buys food day to day, that your family struggles on a daily basis to make enough money just to get by. Would you want to wait for a big bonus every once in a great while?
Of course not. You would want the money as soon as you could possibly get it.
Secondly, giving bonuses more often does exactly what Maritza Keen advised; it’s just another example of doing small things consistently. This should be your goal. This way you can more easily and quickly develop trust.
Over the long haul, it is the same amount of money anyway. In one case, you are storing it yourself; in the other you are giving it sooner and more frequently. But, by giving bonuses sooner and more frequently, you gain something that can be gained in no other way - trust.
You gain trust by consistently doing things you promise to people. By the way, make sure that the things you promise actually matter to the people involved. Make sure that the things you do for people have cultural acceptance.
You already know that when trust is gained, so is loyalty. When you have loyalty from your workforce, you have a stable workforce. When you have a stable workforce you have very little turnover.
I hope you trust me enough to believe what I am telling you here!