Do You Have a Leadership Trust-Deficit?

Research by the Henley Centre has shown that while nine out of ten people will trust their spouse or partner and eight out of ten their children, less than a third (27 percent) trust retailers or manufacturers, while just 14 percent trust either the government or advertisers!

What is the level of trust of employees for their boss? Of managers for their bosses?

Half of actively disengaged workers admit they would fire their boss, given the chance, according to a Gallup survey, and one quarter of all employees say they would like the opportunity. That’s a big loss of trust, if you ask me.

In another study, since the recent recession, there seems to be a stronger bond between manager and employee. In fact, 78 percent of bosses say they feel closer to their teams than they did three years ago (pre-recession) and 61 percent of employees agree, according to a survey from Adecco Staffing US.

Crises does unite people to a common goal, and you would expect extra efforts on the part of leaders who are under just as much pressures as their employees.  But what about now, what are leaders doing to solidify relationships of trust? As a manager, what should you be doing?

In a classic book on marketing in the 21st century, The Soul of the New Consumer,  futurist David Lewis, who originally coined the term “neuromarketing,” claims the new consumer to be in search of authenticity.

The new consumer is:

  • Individualistic
  • Involved
  • Independent
  • Informed

And they are pressed for time, it’s harder to get their attention, and they lack trust.

Although this is a book about consumers and marketing, I believe these same characteristics apply to workers at all levels in organizations in this new 21st century.

People seek to be unique, independent, informed, and want – crave- engagement in their work. They are pressured by too many demands for their attention. They are crunched for time, and seeking – if not craving – confidence and belief in their peers and bosses.

Coming back to my question, what can leaders do to solidify trust, the opportunities are there. You have to spot them and jump all over them like bees to honey. For example, a manager can:

  1. Spot someone doing something right and compliment them in front of others
  2. Advocate on behalf of employees to senior management
  3. They can find ways to support people with resources to help meet challenges
  4. They can save negative feedback for private sessions behind closed doors
  5. They can admit mistakes in front of others
  6. They can accept feedback in public
  7. They can make promises that they keep, and not promise things they can’t deliver

Trust isn’t something to take for granted, certainly not between a manager and a direct report. It has to be earned. Because people come from different experiences, having worked for many different bosses, they have confidence deficits. As a manager, your job is to overcome those, and cross the canyon with a solid bridge.

What do you think about this? Do you spend any time working on your relationship skills? If you have concerns about a deficit in your company, talk to me. Scholz and Associates may be able to help.

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