You’re the leader of a medical group. One of your group’s employees, Dr. Bob, wants to borrow $10,000. He’s worked with the group for eight years, and you know him well. He’s trustworthy.
Bob promises to pay the group back in three months.
Do you simply write a Bob a check or do get him to sign a promissory note?
“Trust but verify,” Ronald Reagan’s maxim when dealing with the Soviet Union, would certainly apply. You’d get the note.
Now let’s switch gears. You’re not dealing with Dr. Bob about a short term loan, you’re in the throes of the negotiation over a contract with the hospital’s CEO. Let’s call him Robert.
You’ve known Robert for years. He’s always been true to his word.
You negotiate for a provision, for example, a cost of living increase to be applied to a coverage stipend. Robert says he’ll take are of it, you have his word, but he just doesn’t want to put it into the contract. Then he adds, “you can trust me.”
No matter your personal relationship with Robert, no matter the years of history, you must apply the same Reagan Rule – verify by way of putting the verbal promises into the agreement.
Even if you completely trust Robert, you don’t know if the hospital board is going to pressure him to do something that he doesn’t personally agree with, you don’t know whether he’ll even be the CEO a month from now, and you can never rely on the bond of “business friendship.”
Trust, but verify.