Building Employee Trust – What Does It Mean?
by Leslie Allan on Jun 11, 2011
When we want to build employee trust in our managers, what exactly do we mean? This post examines the various components of employee trust so that we do not miss aspects that our employees consider vital in nurturing a productive employee-manager relationship.
In my earlier post on Employee-Manager Trust: How Do Employers Rate?, I recounted the results of Right Management’s recent survey. That survey put a spotlight on the alarmingly low levels employee trust in today’s organizations. It revealed that three quarters of all employees mistrusted their managers.
The kind of trust the survey authors were researching into was trust in managers’ ability to make the best decisions for their organization. However, that is just one component of the trust equation. When we say that we trust another person, what does that mean? Well, it may mean that we believe that they:
1.have the requisite skills and knowledge
2.accurately judge their own strengths and limitations
3.not act primarily from self-interest
5.follow through on their commitments
6.are being truthful
To round out this definition, we can put each trust component into one of two bundles. The competency bundle includes the first two components. Right Management’s survey touched on this bundle only. The second bundle is the integrity bundle and includes components 3 to 6 above. This bundle is about the person displaying their true character and intentions; being who they say they are. Stephen Covey calls people who fail in this respect “duplicitous”.
In engaging the hearts and minds of our employees, it is this second bundle, the integrity bundle, that is as important, if not more important, than the competency bundle. If a manager is lacking in skills or judgment, but is sincere, his or her employees are more likely to work with them in mutual problem solving and goal attainment. A manager that is highly skilled but seen as manipulative and deceitful by his or her employees will quickly find employees checking out at the gate. And once this kind of trust is lost, it will be difficult for the manager to regain, if not impossible.
What examples can you think of in your work where your manager lost your trust? What aspect of your trust did they lose (look at components 1 to 6 above)? In a future post, I will gather all of your contributions and summarize them into a list of examples of how managers can lose the trust of their employees
Leslie Allan is Managing Director of Business Performance Pty Ltd, a management consulting firm specializing in people and process capability. He has been assisting organizations for over 20 years, contributing in various roles as project manager, consultant and trainer. Leslie is also the author of five books and many business articles. His company's Business Performance web site is a rich source of information, advice and tools in a variety of management areas. Visit today to download trial versions of products, free templates and introductory chapters. While you are there, subscribe to their informative monthly newsletter and join the blog discussion.