How important is employee trust in management?
Does your management have the confidence and belief of the employees? According to various surveys it is common for employees to not trust what the their company leaders tell them about issues such as corporate governance, plans, perspectives and objectives. Employees are generally proud of their company, but often they do not have full confidence in corporate governance.
The communication tools now available have simplified the transmission of information and instructions from top to bottom. However, employees still have an unclear picture of where the company is heading. The result will be a less committed workforce. Clearly some companies attract more trust than others. Looking beyond companies some institutions have mastered this, for example military institutions have learned that informed troops feel prepared and motivated to face changes and challenges, regardless of their seriousness. This principle can be the same for businesses.
Even with right intentions distrust can grow
Most business leaders have the right intentions. They work to increase profits, maintain jobs and deliver quality products in difficult circumstances. However, with regular changes and priorities it is easy to see how they can forget their previous promises. They become busy, forget to communicate, neglect compliance and, as a result trust decreases despite having the best intentions to begin with. If this is not handled then low levels of confidence can cost money.
How employee trust can hit the bottom line
It is well documented that have employees who trust their leadership and the overall company vision can be more profitable, some studies suggest that the impact could be up to three times more than companies with a low level of trust in management.
Communication is key
The CEO and other leaders are the key in building trust. They should share deliver good and bad news to their employees in a way that can be understood. How and when it is communicated will have big impact on how much employees trust them. Beyond traditional communication, behaviour is also vital. Trust or confidence in the management is also based on the way companies deal with changes, such as restructuring, downsizing and mergers. No matter what the change, the way it is handled is crucial.
Growing distrust in management is a problem for both employees and company leaders. How can management motivate the workforce if they simply do not believe that information management is telling them?
How does distrust grow?
- Employees do not trust management when they are are less dependent on employees.
- Mistrust of management gathers momentum as it spreads; it is like a virus. New employees learn from more experienced employees that management cannot be trusted.
- The distrust of management is often due to a resistance of change.
How can companies build trust with employees?
Often managers feel that they should move operations to a different place and recruit new workers to end distrust. However it is completely possible to rebuild trust at a company. Teams that have grown to distrust their employers can learn to trust again. This can of course cost money, cost time and needs patience. It won’t happen overnight but starting to improve communication and looking for quick wins which demonstrate reliability is a good start. Here are some other tips for rebuilding trust with employees:
- Do not withhold information. It will not always be possible to divulge information, but where possible employees must have important information on time.
- Always be honest. When employees feel misguided, distrust in management can be hard to reverse.
- Make a more personal communication. Sometimes employees need to hear directly from the CEO rather than their line managers.
- Listen to employees and let them know that they have been heard. Employees struggle to trust when they feel their opinions are not heard. Management must recognise employee suggestions when acting on them and inform everyone that they have done so. This will help people to feel valued.
- Communicate the things you know for sure, and then let them see through those plans. This will develop the correct communication pattern and management’s confidence in future actions.
- Ensure that employees have the right development opportunities to support changes. This will help them to feel involved rather than left behind.
Another way to think about trust is by looking that the trust equation. So check out this article for more information.