What's Trust Got To Do With It?
by Marnie Green
Mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, reorganizations, change. . . all of these modern-day business phenomenon have had a tremendous impact on the level of trust in most organizations. Gone is the era of lifetime employment. Today, organizations consider themselves lucky to retain an employee for five years. And, when we analyze the reasons for this change of landscape, most of the data points to one issue: employees don't trust employers and employers don't trust employees.
Yet, organizations don't build trust. Managers, supervisors, and organizational leaders who work with employees on a day-to-day basis are in the best position to develop trusting relationships on behalf of the organization. They represent the organization to the employees. Never before has the issue of trust been more of a challenge for leaders and yet, few leaders know where to start to build it or to repair it.
To regain and maintain trust levels within an organizational setting, leaders must consider the impact of several factors. First, the individual leader must be honest and authentic in everything they do. And, while honesty sounds like the obvious answer, leaders struggle daily with the tendency to evade critical employee questions. Not knowing the answer, our human tendency is to evade. This natural behavior erodes trust over time.
Leaders must also make their expectations clear and ask for what they want. And, when expectations have been met, that feat must be strongly acknowledged. Today's workers thrive on recognition and feedback. They must understand the boundaries they face and must be given the latitude and freedom to do the job in ways their boss may not.
Of course, leading by example is a necessary tenant to building trust. However, what leading by example means to one person may not be the same to another. An awareness of others' perceptions and a willingness to get involved in the minute details of the worker's day will build trusting relationships. "Modeling the way" creates the kind of credibility leaders must have to be effective in today's ever-changing organizations.
Trust-conscious leaders overload employees with feedback and emphasize personal, as well as employee development. Leaders who understand the need to manage and develop the talent of their staff members ensure that the future of their organization is secure.
Finally, trusted leaders are also on the road to continual improvement. And, such efforts include the regular audit of policies and practices that might erode trust. Regular trust audits, accompanied by an honest look at the organization's changing culture can aid leaders in creating a trusting environment.
So, you see, trust has everything to do with it.
Marnie E. Green is Principal Consultant of the Arizona-based Management Education Group, Inc. She is the author of Painless Performance Evaluations: A Practical Approach to Managing Day to Day Employee Performance (Pearson/Prentice Hall). Green is a speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations develop leaders today for the workforce of tomorrow. Contact Green at http://www.managementeducationgroup.com
Marnie Green may be contacted at http://www.managementeducationgroup.com