Seven ways to earn the trust of employees

by Contributor08 May 2017
How many employees trust their managers?

A recent study by Edelman found that one in three employees don’t trust their manager. Another study by EY found that number to be even lower, with only 46% having trust in their organisation, and 49% in their boss/team.

Trust is one of the most important things you need in the workplace. Without it you won’t have the environment you need for an effective feedback culture to grow.

So how can you help close the trust gap between employees and managers?

Bas Kohnke, CEO at tech startup Impraise, outlines seven ways this can be done.

Honesty is the best policy

Being honest, even during tough times, is something the most trustworthy leaders learn how to do. Whether your company hasn’t met its goals and is unable to award bonuses this year, or you’ve decided to let go of a member of your team.

Rather than putting off the difficult talk, employees will respect a manager who is able to openly explain the situation, take questions and give them the facts.

Admit mistakes

While being transparent about bad news is difficult, admitting when it’s you who’s made a mistake can be even more difficult. You may be surprised to find that employees will like you more for it.

Admitting mistakes actually makes you more human and thereby more likeable to others. Psychologists call this the ‘Pratfall effect’. Being able to admit to and take responsibility for your mistakes is a major part of being a great leader.

Treat employees like people, not numbers

Managers don’t have to be their employee’s best friend, but they should be conscious of maintaining a healthy work environment.

You don’t have to know all the details of your employees’ personal lives, but managers should have a good understanding of what their employees enjoy about their job most.

If you’re able to pick up on what your employee’s need to do their best, they’ll go the extra mile for you.

Give credit to your employees

As the team leader, you will often receive recognition from your peers and upper management for your team’s efforts. Make sure you share appreciation and acknowledge your team members for their hard work.

A recent study by Globoforce showed that employees who received recognition from their leaders recently were significantly more likely to trust them (82% vs 48%).

Put yourself on the line for your team

To gain trust, managers must be their team’s best advocate. While inwardly you may have constructive feedback for your team about the way they approached an assignment, outwardly you must be willing to praise, advocate and take responsibility for your team’s actions.

When team members make a mistake it may seem common sense to distance one’s self. This may maintain your reputation, but it won’t win you your team’s trust.

Teach your managers how to overcome bias

It’s not that managers are inherently biased, as people we have a natural tendency to make assumptions about others. This can result in managers unintentionally favoring some employees over others, known by psychologists as the ‘rater bias’.

Unconscious bias contributes to a major loss in trust between managers and employees, especially when it affects performance reviews. Help managers learn how to identify and avoid bias in the workplace.

Make yourself vulnerable. Ask for feedback

As more and more employees are publicising their complaints about their employer on Glassdoor, you want a workforce that feels free and comfortable to express concerns before they boil over onto the internet.

But to gain this type of trust, managers must first demonstrate they’re willing to open themselves up to criticism. If they truly start to put themselves out there and ask for employee feedback, their reports will recognise this and start to follow their example

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