If you have trouble getting employees to trust you, perhaps one—or more—of the following reasons are to blame:
- You don’t model what you say.
- You make promises you can’t keep.
- You guard and selectively disclose information.
- You don’t allow your employees to exercise their judgment.
- You ask for input from your employees and ignore them.
- You seek to monitor everything—including time spent on social media.
- You tend to shift the blame.
- You avoid giving credit where credit is due.
- You ignore workplace concerns and problems until they become more significant problems.
- You have double standards (employees tend to be especially very alert to this.)
Management scholars have suggested that trustworthiness entails three attributes: competence to perform tasks reliably (your ability,) having benign intentions (your benevolence,) and acting consistently with sound ethical principles such as fairmindedness, sincerity, and honesty (your integrity.) If you can exhibit these three attributes credibly and dependably, all will trust you. Get any of these three attributes wrong, and your standing will suffer.
Here are a few actions you can take to rebuild trust within your organization:
- Communicate openly. Listen. Value everyone’s opinions equally. Involve employees in decision-making. Be as transparent as possible.
- Empower employees. Encourage them to use their best judgment to identify and solve problems. Don’t be unnecessarily rigid with enforcing rules.
- Make everyone accountable. Take responsibility. Invite and listen to feedback. Communicate expectations. Invest in commitments.
Idea for Impact: Trust is reshaped—strengthened or undermined—in every encounter
If your employees don’t trust you, then they won’t do what you need them to, and they won’t stick around long.
Trust is a consequence of your actions, not merely an intention or message. Trust is truly behavioral; it is complicated and fragile. Trust must be hard-fought, hard-earned, and hard-won every day, through actions, not words.