A number of benefits come from building trust within an organization. Companies with higher levels of trust generally see increased productivity, improved morale, better teamwork, and more efficiency in operations overall.
This is great, but let’s be honest — trust isn’t easy to achieve and maintain. Trust can be hard to nurture, particularly between managers and employees.
So, how can you tell whether you’re on the right track? Here are a few reasons why your employees might not trust you — and how to set things right:
1. They’re Not Getting the Training and Support They Need
Trust develops when managers show employees they are invested in their workers. When a manager takes the time and effort to provide quality, ongoing support and training, that shows employees their manager wants them around for the long haul and cares about their futures at the company.
For this reason, many companies now approach performance through the lens of coaching. Instead of acting as harsh taskmasters, managers take a supportive role, lending the encouragement and resources employees need to accomplish their goals and strive to improve.
2. Communication Lines Are Closed
How can you trust someone you never interact with? If employees only get rare, formal, forced conversations with their managers, you can’t expect trust to flourish.
The more you talk with your employees, the more honest and open communication becomes. This, in turn, allows you to develop a genuine, human, trusting relationship with employees, rather than being seen as an intimidating authority figure.
To foster increased communication between managers and employees, many companies are adopting a more agile approach to performance management, which involves regular catch-ups and coaching discussions. This ultimately encourages more communication and honest dialogue.
3. You’re Unpredictable and Temperamental
Managers are only human; we know that. They get frustrated and annoyed like anyone else — but as a manager, it’s your responsibility to keep a lid on your emotions. You need to remain calm and consistent for your employees. Your workers need to know that you will not fly off the handle if they come to you with problems or questions. You need to be reliable and reassuring. If you allow yourself to become visibly frustrated and angry, employees won’t feel they can be honest with you — and they certainly won’t trust you.
4. They Sense You’re Withholding Information
Most healthy relationships are founded on honesty and transparency. Relationships in the workplace are no different.
Refrain from holding information back or keeping it on a need-to-know basis. Some managers do this with the best intentions, thinking bumps in the road or business challenges will only worry their employees. In reality, employees would rather know all the salient information. After all, it affects them and their careers. Engaged employees genuinely care how the company is faring.
When you hold information back, regardless of intent, you won’t be seen in a favorable light by employees. Be upfront and honest with your employees, and they’ll trust you — even if the truth is hard to confront.
5. They Feel Dispensable
Nobody wants to be a cog in the machine. We want our work to mean something; we want to feel valued and integral. If your employees feel they are easily replaceable or dispensable, their morale and engagement are likely to drop. They’ll also grow to distrust you: If they are dispensable to you, they have no reason to believe you would go out of your way to stand up for them, help them out, or train them.
One effective way to counter the feeling of disposability is by letting employees know exactly what roles they play in your organization and how their work contributes to organizational aims and objectives. Keep your employees involved and invested in the company by showing them the roles they play in keeping it running.
6. They Feel You Don’t Treat All Employees Equally
You can’t play favorites. Even if you might secretly prefer one employee to another, it’s important you never show preferential treatment. Favoritism can seriously degrade trust within your organization.
Remember, favoritism doesn’t just relate to promotions. Consider whether you’re constantly recognizing and rewarding one employee over others. Are you clearly more friendly with a particular employee? Do you let certain behavior slide from some people while being strict with others? This can create a toxic work environment, one that breeds an us-versus-them mentality.
7. You Don’t Trust Them
When people feel trusted, they show trust. Do your employees feel like you trust them? How do you show this trust?
Your hired adults, so treat your employees as such. Believe that they want to do a good job. Most employees do. They want to perform above and beyond, but micromanagement and clear displays of distrust will quickly sap their motivation to do so.
Consider giving your employees more freedom and control over their workloads. Perhaps make goal-setting a collaborative effort to give them increased ownership over their objectives. You might want to let your employees set their own work hours, to some extent, or give them the freedom to work from home. Some companies even go so far as to not track working hours at all, instead tracking goals completed. This clearly demonstrates to employees that you trust them to do the right thing — and employees who feel genuinely trusted will rarely let you down.
Stuart Hearn is CEO and founder of Clear Review.