The Seattle Times, Sept 2, 1997
Do Your Employees Trust You?
by Maggie Jackson (AP)
Comments By F John Reh
This article suggests they probably do not. They trust their co-workers and they even like their job for the most part, but not the managers. They don’t believe that managers make the best decisions, especially when it comes to decisions made about them. The author poses two questions for you, as a manager to consider: Does it matter that your employees don’t trust you? And how do you find out?
The first is the easiest to answer with a resounding - YES, it matters very much. The two biggest reasons why it matters are related – Performance (theirs and yours) and Profits.
In regards to their performance, top performance will not be obtained, from any employee who does not trust you. If they don’t trust you to make the best decisions AND trust you to look out for their best interests - they feel they have to do it themselves. The time they spend doing that, or thinking about how to do it, takes away from their production, their quality, and their creativity. (Chapter 13, pg, 410, Building Trust, – Be fair and be consistent)
The performance of your employees reflects heavily on your own performance, as a manager. After all, Management is the ability to get things done through others. If you can’t get top performance from your employees, how can you prove to your boss that you are a great manager? . (Chapter 13, pg, 410, Building Trust, – Demonstrate confidence)
Trust is a two way street. If your employees don’t trust you, you probably aren’t going to trust them too much. You will end up spending your time, and you are short of that already, checking up on them. That time could be better spent elsewhere, couldn’t it?
We just documented the time wasted by both the manager and the employees because of lack of trust. You can measure the cost of those wasted hours, but the bigger cost is lost innovation and creativity. Doing a job well does not make profits; they are made by doing it better. It doesn’t matter too much whether that is by “Continuous Improvement” or by sudden change. All that really matters is that it happens. Your competitors are going to find newer, better, cheaper ways to do things. If you don’t, you’ll lose customers and then lose profits.
The second question is a little harder to answer, but here are some suggestions:
One of the simplest ways to get an answer is to ask direct questions. When you ask an employee a question, really listen to their answer. It’s almost like reading between the lines. If they start to tell you something and then stop, that is a pretty good example that they don’t completely trust you. Ask them how the group feels, not them personally. Focus on group impressions and you will be surprised at what you can learn. (Chapter 13, pg, 410, Building Trust, – Be fair, speak your feelings, tell the truth and be consistent)
Get out of your office. Management By Walking Around (MBWO) really does work. Employees will be more apt to approach you in “their territory," and you will hear and see things that never make it into the reports that come into your office. Besides, when your people see you walking around, they begin to see you as a person, not just as “the boss." It’s a lot easier to mistrust “the boss” than to mistrust an individual. . (Chapter 13, pg, 410, Building Trust, – Fulfill your promises, maintain confidences and demonstrate confidence)
Trust is earned. It is an emotional bank account between the boss and their employees. Just like any good investment, this one will pay as well.
The Seattle Times, Sept 2, 1997
Word Count: 639