Recent studies show trust in the workplace is becoming harder and harder to come by – proving difficult for leaders and employees alike. For example, these studies show less than 50% of lower-level employees trust the companies they work for. Moreover, the percent of CEOs concerned about a lack of trust in business and how that impacts their organization’s performance has increased from 37% in 2014 to 55% in 2017.
These high levels of distrust in organizations today largely stems from engrained traditional management practices. Traditional management focuses heavily on rule enforcement, often making employees feel as though their managers are parenting, rather than mentoring them. Additionally, a hyper-economic focus often dictates how companies develop policies, placing a higher emphasis on efficiency, profit, and inflexible procedures than on innovation, creativity, and employee autonomy.
Trust is not static – it ebbs and flows and is largely dictated by the consistency of managerial behavior. If managers are inconsistent, hide information, dismiss employee ideas, and prioritize profit over employees, they risk creating mistrust among their workforce thus diminishing employee motivation. Build trust throughout your organization through transparency, open communication and a willingness to entertain employee ideas and you will boost employee motivation, satisfaction and morale. This not only creates a work environment that is enjoyable and attracts great employees, it also will positively affect your bottom line.
As a manager, it is your responsibility to integrate practices demonstrating trust and confidence in your employees. Developing trust requires thoughtful, consistent action aimed at benefiting both your employees and the organization as a whole.
The first step is to develop self-awareness and honestly assess how your words and actions are developing (or diminishing) trust among your employees. No matter how much you may trust your employees, your behavior may be communicating a different message. If you are hiding information, micro-managing, or rejecting new and innovative ideas, your employees likely feel as though you do not trust their judgment and expertise.
One of the simplest ways to ensure your employees trust you is to demonstrate you trust them – trust begets trust. For example, delegating tasks and allowing higher levels of autonomy exhibit you are confident in your employees’ expertise and in their ability to complete tasks without being micro-managed. Investing in employee development reaffirms your confidence in your employees and proves you care about the longevity of their career, not just the benefit they bring to your organization specifically.
Above all else, consistency of action over time is foundational to trust-building. Exhibiting consistent behavior – behavior that aligns with your stated values and goals – shows your employees they can trust you, in both good times and bad.
To assess your own behaviors, how they align with your stated values, and how this is contributing to (or detracting from) how much your employees trust you, begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- Am I saying one thing and doing another?
- Am I prioritizing profits and not valuing my employees?
- How much of an effort am I making to get to know my employees on both a professional and personal level?
- Am I displaying preferential treatment towards certain employees?
- How can I utilize the tools in this blog to develop more trust between myself and my employees?
If you are looking for a comprehensive, easily accessible program to improve your managerial skills and build trust throughout your organization, then the Engineering Leadership Institute’s (ELI) Performance Certification System (PCS)is just for you! When paired with our Team Leader Guide (TLG), teams will leverage to PCS to develop interpersonal skills and open communication, cultivating trust and building the foundation for a high-performance organization. If you are ready to begin your journey to unleashing high-performance, contact ELI today!