Building trust

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 9:59am

Each year since 2012, Edelman, surveys a large sample (33,000 for this year’s report) worldwide regarding trust. The trends revealed are grim. This year’s survey showed employee’s trust in CEOs’ has plummeted with a 12-percentage point drop from the year before.

Only 37% of those surveyed have confidence in CEOs – the lowest in the history of the survey.

And, what is the most important change companies needs to make?
“Treat employees well” ranked the highest for how businesses can build trust.  “Companies talk to their employees last, and that is a mistake, that’s crazy.” Edelman said.

The survey also identified what creates the most fear for employees:

  • 53% agree that the pace of change in business and industry is too fast.
  • Employees worry about losing their jobs due to lack of training or skills (60%) and automation (54%).

These are fears that can be addressed with honest communication and effective programs that directly address employee’s fears. CEO’s and managers just need to listen to their employees, follow-up with real solutions and clearly communicate along the way.

Studies link lack of engagement to poor management skills
Other surveys show similar trends. Twelve years of polling by Gallup show that barely 30% of the employees are engaged at work. That means 70% of employees don’t know or care what is going on with their company. The cause of such low involvement? Top executives and managers don’t know or appreciate who does the hard work or who tries to improve the company. According to multiple Gallup surveys, managers are disconnected from employees or are just plain unqualified to be a manager.

Gallup’s research found that “2 in 10 people have some characteristics of functioning managerial talent and can perform at a high level if their company coaches and supports them.” But, most companies don’t train, coach or support managers. Bad managers are not replaced, and promising managers are not nurtured. Gallup research shows that in large companies, CEOs cannot know everything that goes on with bad managers, great employees or problems at the ground level.  But, good CEOs can establish strategic decisions that are a win-win for both customers and employees. They can lead by example by promoting on merit and choosing qualified top managers who will in turn do the same.

How can CEOs and managers create a more trusting relationship with employees?
This is one of those questions that does not need a Gallup poll or worldwide survey (although those also exist).

CEOs and managers need to:

  1. Tell the truth and don’t lie by omission.
  2. Earn trust by telling the truth over a sustained amount of time. People do not and should not automatically trust. Trust has to be earned.
  3. Listen. Take Notes. Follow up with real solutions. Report on progress. Real listening is not a box to be checked. It’s a daily habit to be practiced.
  4. Communicate (often) about the company and its direction in clear terms that everyone can understand, be proud of and… trust.
  5. Choose your words carefully. Don’t use meaningless corporate BS language. Don’t use sports and weather analogies. Just talk like a real person who cares about the company and its employees.
  6. Actually CARE about employees. Lead by example by paying attention to your direct reports and those you interact with and those on your team. If employees see their CEO and their managers learning about the employees they interact with and genuinely caring about them, then those employees will naturally begin to do the same with those they interact with on a daily basis. That whole “paying it forward” thing.

Creating a caring company where people trust each other and work as a cohesive team is not about a “vision statement”, a “program” or a “slogan”. Trust or the lack thereof is defined by what employees do on an hourly, daily and weekly basis. Getting employees to like, trust and support each other takes hard work, a conscious effort, talent and wisdom on the part of CEOs and managers to gradually buildup trust and confidence within the company.

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