Three Reasons Employees Don’t Trust Their Leaders

I recently came across a study that reports that 55% of employees do not trust their leaders! That hurts. A leader who learns that 55% of the team does not trust their leadership should step back and evaluate their approach. Most won’t. Most will assume that this report refers to somebody else’s leadership. It’s human nature.

There are a number of characteristics that influence trust. They include: Courtesy of TerryJohnston via Flickr

  • Leadership competency – This is different than the ability to do the         job of the team. This competency is in how to lead people. Good               salespeople are not always good sales managers.
  • The perception that leaders don’t care – Almost every leader I have          known has a sincere concern and care for their people. They have not      learned how to express that in a way that generate trust.
  • Lack of Transparency – The leader is not sharing the bigger picture.

Let’s look at each of these and some ways that communication can enhance trust.

Leadership Competency How do you demonstrate this? Your team needs to know information like:
– Goals
– How they are measured
– Where to find resources
– What they are doing well and how they can improve
– New initiatives
– This could be a long list

And how will they know this? What I often see is a manager that is perhaps uncomfortable with people, and afraid of what they might say wrong, so they go silent. (This was me in my first management role). When we take the time to learn how to communicate and see the effect that communication can have, it is rewarding to see leaders emerge. If we want our team to be engaged, we have to demonstrate it by being engaged with them.

The perception that leaders don’t care This has not been my experience. Most leaders I know care deeply. They don’t know how to express it. We have been taught emotion has no place in the workplace. Emotional suppression has been shown to decrease productivity and cloud peoples thinking. Research shows that Emotional Intelligence is one of the driving forces behind successful leadership. The more we can teach people to identify their emotions as well as the emotions of others, the better our ability to engage. We are emotional beings after all.

Lack of Transparency. Individuals at all levels of an organization want to be part of the bigger picture and a greater purpose. To foster this, we can create the time to regularly share how our team performance is contributing to the larger organizational mission vision and values. The masters at this are able to show how each team member is contributing to the larger picture in ways that support their individual goals.

An example might be in an organization that serves patients. And through the billing team efforts, they were able to collect a record amount of cash (remembering that cash pays for the mission). And, that patient satisfaction scores with the call center were the best ever. The manager could lay that out and show how cash and patient satisfaction contributed to the organizational goals of increasing cash on hand. This in turn contributed to a better bond rating which will allow the facility to invest in a new lab. And how “performance” ties into John’s values and “patient satisfaction” with Julie’s values.

As leaders of people, when you can slow down to connect and engage your people in meaningful communication, you create engagement, alignment and accountability. When you can demonstrate empathy and emotional intelligence your people begin to trust that you have their interests at heart. When we tie all of this into the bigger picture (good and bad) they learn we aren’t hiding anything.

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