Your staff like you…but do they trust you?
By using good judgment, acting with integrity and making trust a priority, leaders will be rewarded with loyal, dedicated and high-performing employees.

Your staff like you…but do they trust you?

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Stephen M. R. Covey wrote in his book, The Speed of Trust, that “When trust goes down (in a relationship, on a team, in an organisation, or with a partner or customer), speed goes down and cost goes up… The inverse is equally true: When trust goes up, cost goes down, and speed goes up.”


Trust is important in a workplace because staff who trust are more likely to be actively engaged. Actively engaged employees have an emotional commitment to their work and take greater responsibility for it. However, a global engagement survey found that:
• 24% of employees in Australia are engaged
• 60% of employees in Australia are not engaged
• 16% of employees in Australia are actively disengaged


The scary thing about these figures is that they have remained the same every year since 2000! It seems we are aware most employees (76%) are either not engaged or actively disengaged. Nonetheless, we appear to be unable or unwilling to do anything about it.


How was your weekend?

One theory is that we don’t know how to build genuine relationships with people at work. That’s not to say leaders have to build personal friendships with everyone. However, they do need to make meaningful connections with all of their direct reports. Building meaningful connections doesn’t mean mollycoddling people, and it doesn’t mean you avoid having the difficult conversations. Strong leadership is important. But aggressive, belligerent leadership is an antiquated model that belongs in a museum with its fellow dinosaurs. The new order needs leaders who sincerely care. Christine Porath, Associate Professor of Management at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, calls it ‘Radical Candour—where you care personally but you challenge directly’.


Why do you want to work here?

Part of the problem is traditional hiring processes don’t help identify candidates who will be honest, accountable team members. This means a revamp of hiring processes is needed. Instead of a traditional one-on-one interview, ask the people a candidate would work closely with to sit in. You could even get the whole team involved and assess if the candidate fits in with the team culture. Furthermore, traditional questions such as “Why do you want to work here?” tell you nothing about a candidate’s ability or potential performance. A better question to ask would be, “When have you taken on extra work to help an organisation or team meet critical goals?”


I assume you’re working?

Another issue that needs addressing is the tendency of some leaders to make assumptions based on previous experiences. The problem with this is negative experiences create negative expectations. Leaders then operate on the assumption that all employees are lazy, incapable of self management or lack integrity. Assumptions like these are followed by micromanaging, withholding information, and the creation of unfair rules and policies. This behaviour then leads to employee disengagement. Instead, expect the best of employees and assume they will come through in the end.


Employees who don’t trust their leaders cite unethical behaviours such as hiding information, taking credit for others’ hard work or deceiving people as reasons why. By using good judgment, acting with integrity and making trust a priority, leaders will be rewarded with loyal, dedicated and high-performing employees.


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