Do Your Employees Trust You?

Dysfunctional boss who has zero trust with his team

In numerous studies, surveys, and research, employees indicate over and over that trusting their immediate supervisor is one of the most important elements of their job satisfaction.

  • Can you honestly say that your direct reports trust you? Do their direct reports trust them?
  • How do you know?
  • Do you cross your fingers hoping they trust you?
  • Have you conducted any anonymous surveys recently? Hired a coach to ask a few tough questions? Solicited feedback from your staff?

Probably NOT.

Implications of a lack of TRUST

The number one reason employees decide to leave their jobs is due to a lack of opportunity. More on this subject in another blog post. The second most common reason is loss of respect for their immediate supervisor/boss. AND there is no faster way to lose respect than the destruction of trust.

How many of the employees in your company have one foot out the door, are actively searching the job boards, or would leave immediately for an appropriate job at a lateral level just to get away from your company?

If general trends hold true for your company, probably about 50% of your staff are open to a better opportunity – they’re trying to see if the grass is greener somewhere else. Of this 50%, what percentage got to the point of seeking greener pastures because they lost respect for their boss — due to no longer trusting that individual?

6 Components of a Trusting Relationship

Let’s delve a little deeper into some of the specific issues that define the level of trust between and employee and her boss. By the way, if I somehow manage to leave out a key issue that you think is important, jump right in and pose your trust issue as a comment.

Communication: I recently put up a blog post on our Leadership Community Blog regarding how communication can affect trust. The more you communicate, the higher the trust. Communication might include telling your staff the reasons behind your requests and commands, it might include tying business results to their activities, it might include conducting one-to-one feedback and coaching sessions.

Being fair: Nothing will destroy a relationship between a boss and her subordinate faster than NOT BEING FAIR. The typical example of a lack of fairness is when the boss sets different levels of performance standards for various team members. When the boss plays favorites, or frequently lets select team members “off the hook”, the rest of the team resents it and loses trust.

Rational and objective: You’ve got your emotions in check. You’re not a mercurial, table-pounding, wall-smacking screamer. You don’t “fly off the handle”. You don’t throw tantrums. The argument with your 17 year old this morning, or the driver who cut you off and then made an obscene gesture at you – doesn’t affect how you treat your people. You never criticize the person or put people down. You’re good at asking questions to solve problems and guiding/coaching your people to solutions.

Their success is important to you: Your staff respects you. They seek your advice on their career. You demonstrate a interest in their success by having occasional conversations about their career – perhaps once a quarter in your one-to-one sessions. You’re able to remove your “boss” hat and put on your “career coach” hat. You can have an deep and objective conversation about their dreams and expectations.

You “have their back”: Your staff will occasionally run into trouble with customers, vendors, suppliers, peers, and those higher up the food chain – like your boss, the board, or other peers on the executive team. Do you “have their back”? Will you stretch your neck out to protect your people. Can they go about the day doing a good job knowing you’ll always have their back.

If not, do they move through the day like frightened rodents, avoiding trouble and trying to fade into the woodwork? Are the members of your team “risk-takers” willing to do what they believe is in the best interest of the company – or do they cower behind you dumping every issue onto your back to solve?

They learn from you: A prime motivator of top talent is that they want to grow and learn. Do you help them reach their potential by giving them challenging assignments, stretching them through coaching to achieve outstanding results, providing meaningful work that is stimulating, learning-oriented, and impactful? Do you send them to classes, webinars, courses to expand their knowledge and skills? For example, do you sit down with each of your direct reports once or twice a year and develop a detailed learning plan to move their capacity to a new level?

Are you failing your team by not focusing on these six components of developing a trusting relationship? When should you decide to stop the typical insanity that takes place in most companies where trust is assumed since people show up for work everyday.

Just showing up is not indicative of trust.

Do you have a plan for how you’ll build trust with your team over the next year? Do you know what to do? If not, pick one of the ideas listed below and start down the path of building a trusting relationship with each of your direct reports.

How to build a Trusting Relationship

Could your executive or managerial team pass a test with flying colors if their staff was asked to score them on the above 6 components. If the answer is anything short of a resounding YES – then perhaps it’s time to conduct an intervention to improve trust:

  • Bring in a resource to teach how to build trust
  • Turn gaining trust into a process
  • Incorporate trust as an element when you conduct 360 degree feedback or employee satisfaction surveys (of course, this is an integral part of your employee engagement and motivation programs – right?)
  • Do you score “TRUST” when you evaluate your executives and managers annually? If you don’t score it, and it’s not a component of determining bonuses, why should anyone care? Most employees will do what you measure and reward. If trust is not measured and rewarded – they’ll assume it’s not important to you.
  • Send your executives and managers to “charm” school to learn how to develop trust with their subordinates
  • Make your team read a book about building trust and discuss it in your next staff meeting
  • Force career management discussions at least quarterly with documentation as part of the one-to-one process
  • Role model the importance of trust through-out the organization by demonstrating it continually with your direct reports (do you consciously and continuously think about building trust with each of your direct reports)
  • Freely distribute information about company performance so everyone can understand the role they play in your overall success
  • Publish and promote trust as one of the core values of your company (I assume you’ve already gone through this exercise and your values are loudly proclaimed through-out the company – handing on a banner in the lobby, on the back of business cards, posted everywhere)

If you’re not actively building and improving trust through-out your organization RIGHT NOW, be prepared for high percentage of your best performers to walk out the door as the job market turns over the issue of lack of trust – lack of respect.

Barry Deutsch

In search of benefits . . .

You have to wonder what the insurance companies were thinking. Many, maybe most, small businesses are struggling with cash flow issues; and we all know that. One might expect the insurance executives to be sending out the word to agents and brokers that in light of the “predatory government regulatory atmosphere,” there shall be no premium increases for small business clients. Apparently that hasn’t happened. Instead, monumental premium increases are hitting small businesses.

One small business owner I know, a staunch conservative and very pro business, was adamantly against ANY government intervention in health care. The only thing she felt was useful was to have government remove the interstate barriers to competition among insurance companies. Then the bill came to renew the insurance benefits for her employees. The increase was 32%. She is now all for some kind of intervention, not just more competition; maybe not too much public option, but something to help drive down costs. Many small businesses are finding that they cannot afford to be in the insurance benefit program.

On the other hand, you might think that in light of the administration's goals of putting in place more regulations and also initiating a “public option” for insurance, that they would try and keep any perceptions about government interference with health care out of the headlines. Again, the word hasn’t gotten to the committees making recommendations on women’s health. And so we get the news that one of the more effective programs for breast cancer screening is to be deemphasized. The public, helped by the media, interprets this new recommendation as proving that indeed big government wants to get between you and your doctor.

In similar fashion to the business woman above, another woman with whom I have had conversations around the health care issues was pretty much convinced that a public option was the only sensible way to contain health care costs. Otherwise, the insurance companies will continue to reap huge profits at the expense of policy holders. And, she claimed, the government isn’t really who we need to worry about. It’s the insurance companies who hang us out to dry with fine print and denial of coverage due to trumped up pre-existing condition claims. Needless to say, she’s having second thoughts now based on the mammogram flap.

So neither side on this argument seems to be paying attention to the public sentiment or the “customer's issues.” Arrogance is a word that comes to mind.

The major reason that companies are in the benefit business is to have something other than salary on which to compete for good employees. With the increasing cost of drugs, medical insurance and other mandated insurance such as worker’s compensation now going through the ceiling, it may be time to look for some other kind of benefits with which to attract employees. I know this is heresy, and I’m sure I’ll get a bunch of “hate mail,” but I’m thinking it’s time to hope that the government does take the health insurance monkey off the backs of our businesses and we can go find other benefits to supply our employees. It’s a chance to maybe level the field again – if costs are really reduced for employees.

The “big boys” will be able to afford the usual benefits for employees. If small businesses can’t, then they won’t be able to attract top notch employees; unless they can offer something else. One idea has surfaced in a new book called the Dream Manager. I’m sure we could come up with other ideas, including paying higher salaries so our employees can take care of their own insurance (if effective, low cost insurance becomes available). Wellness programs are much needed. The trick will be to greatly reduce the amounts spent on employee health insurance by business and use the savings to fund other innovative benefits.

How about you? What will you do about employee benefits? Are your health insurance premiums sky-rocketing? Will you have to cut back on benefits this year? Do you have other benefits, or plans for new benefits?

Each company offers its own benefits to employees, but there is one thing in common, as all the companies should work in accordance with Labour Laws. If you want to be covered under your state and federal compliance laws, click here to check out labor law poster.

Download a Cost Of Hire Calculator to help you know the true cost. CLICK HERE to get it.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after Business Advisor and Mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising of Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.