I recently read a post by Kristen Frasch over on The Leader Board called Turning Employee Cynicism into Trust. She writes about how leaders and organizations can build trust with employees. The post is a brief overview to the book The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success by Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard.
You can also read Karlgaard's thoughts on the importance of building employee trust on the Alister & Paine website.
The article and post suggest that leaders build a culture of trust by doing things such as showing employees they care, making it safe for employees to speak up, recognizing and rewarding successes, sharing both good news and bad news, and driving home the meaning of work.
All leaders, including frontline managers, share in the responsibility of building a culture of trust. But often, managers don't have the skills to do this properly. It's not just a matter of acting with integrity - managers need a whole raft of skills so they can lead by example.
Here are just a couple of areas where your managers might need some development, drawn from Karlgaards' suggestions.
Treating others with respect
Karlgaard writes that:
"People will emulate leader behavior, whether it’s good or bad. It’s just human nature. Leaders who roll their eyes when a certain customer calls are giving permission for employees to be similarly disrespectful. Complain about your boss in the break room and you can expect to overhear your own team making fun of you as you approach the water cooler."
We'd obviously prefer our manager to model respectful behavior.
But let's face it, we all have those customers, co-workers, employees and/or bosses who at times exasperate us.
So your managers need strong skills in things like: dealing with conflict, negotiating, teambuilding, cultural sensitivity, and giving effective feedback.
They could also benefit from learning about personality types and communication preferences.
These are all skills that they need to learn, use, and deepen over time.
Speaking the truth
Karlgaard and Frasch both write about the importance of transparency, and sharing both the good news and the bad.
With this too, skills in communicating effectively, dealing with conflict, and cultural sensitivity are important, as is an understanding of personality types.
But managers might also need a solid foundation in presentation skills, writing, and change management.
And an understanding of communications media, and especially social media - their use and application is critical these days.
Are you training your leaders in all of these?
Helping employees find meaning
Managers who are well versed in goal management best practices can help their employees find meaning in their work by assigning them effective goals, linking employee goals to organizational goals, and regularly reviewing progress on goals.
They can also build meaning by giving their employees ongoing feedback and coaching – explaining the context and importance of work, as well as by recognizing and rewarding their contributions to their team, the department and the organization.
Almost every manager can benefit from training and refresher training in these performance management best practices.
Building a culture of trust
If you want to build a culture of trust, you need to invest in the training and development of your managers, to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to lead by example and build employee trust. With the vital role that all leaders, but especially front line managers play in the organization, it's great way to build lasting success.
Your Turn: Do you have any great tips for building a culture of trust in your workplace?