The Trust Spectrum:

How to Choose the Best Person for the Job, Every Time

Shelby S.

Founder of Servable

4 Minutes

Reading Time

In this quick 4-minute read, learn why it's important to move groups of people to higher levels of trust — and learn how you can do it easily.

Humans need to get things done.

We need to repair the fence. We have a big project due Tuesday. We need a babysitter for Saturday. We need four articles written by next week.

The human existence is one of projects. We're always trying to take care of business. We're always wanting to get stuff done.

Every time we need to get something done, we make a decision about who, specifically, should be the one to do it. I might do it myself. I might ask my partner. I might schedule an independent contractor, or maybe use an on-demand marketplace.

Note: Of course, there are other factors at play beyond trust that impact our decisions: urgency, for example

The trust spectrum runs between yourself and complete strangers.

Before I consider the best candidates for taking care of a need, my first step is identifying the appropriate level of trust I require. In other words, I have to determine where this particular need falls on the trust spectrum.

For some needs, I only trust myself, or maybe my spouse. For other projects, I'm not so picky, as long as it happens within some boundaries of comfort and safety — like getting a ride to the airport.

There are a few important aspects to note about the trust spectrum.

1. Cost - Generally speaking, it's "expensive" for me to do things because my time is a precious asset. It's usually less expensive to rely on someone who I trust less. In other words, we pay more when the level of trust is higher. 

2. Quality - Often, the more I trust someone, the more likely it is that the need will be handled of in a high quality manner that I'll be satisfied with. Of course, this isn't always the case — for example, it doesn't hold true when the need requires a special skill set.

3. Scale - At any location on this spectrum you can "zoom in" — for example, you won't trust all your independent contractors the same amount. You will find a certain number of freelancers who you trust implicitly, but you will also have some who haven't had the chance to fully earn your trust. You may even have some low-trust freelancers who you only hire to take care of something in a pinch.

The key: bring more people toward the right side of your spectrum

Naturally, we use the trust spectrum subconsciously to help make decisions, but being aware of the spectrum can help us make better decisions about who should do specific projects. Sometimes it's best to have an employee handle a job. Sometimes it makes sense to use an on-demand service. Other times, it's best to hire an independent contractor or freelancer. 

But perhaps most importantly, this awareness can help us build a higher concentration of our network toward the high-trust end of the spectrum:

The reason ride-sharing and other on-demand service marketplaces are valuable to users is because they provide a filter of trust (and they do some other things, like have easy-to-use apps with automatic payments). They enable us to move a pool of people just a little further to the right on our spectrum, just enough so we're comfortable trusting that pool of people to do something for us. 

The key to getting things done the best possible way (where "best" = most efficient, most cost-effective, best expertise for the job, etc.) is to expand your options: to expand the number of people you trust at each level across the spectrum. The bigger your trusted talent pool, the more options you have, and the more likely you'll be able to find someone available at the ideal level of trust for the job. 

One of the best ways to open up bigger pools of talent is building up groups of independent contractors at varying levels of trust that you can flexibly tap into — your own private "Uber-like" service comprised of independent contractors you trust.

Yes, humans need to get things done. Having the right groups across the whole trust spectrum enables you to get things done the best way, every time.

How to Find the Right Independent Contractor for the Level of Trust You Need

The best way to find the right freelancer for a project is to build up a team of freelancers you can easily hire when you need them. It's a good idea to build your flexible workforce over time, since the last thing you want to be doing is searching for a freelancer when time is tight and you need to get something done.

But, when should you get started? Check out this article to learn more about when you should build up a workforce of independent contractors for your business.