One of the key relationships in a workplace is that between a member of staff and their manager.
Not only does common sense suggest this to be the case, but quite a lot of research indicates some of the key motivators of employee engagement include whether a person’s supervisor cares about them and whether they get appropriate encouragement, training, recognition of their views and opportunities to grow – all areas in which direct managers play a key part.
It’s pretty alarming then when one looks at research around trust between employees and their managers. A CIPD survey in 2013 suggested that less than 30% of staff strongly trusted senior managers (admittedly this was not limited to direct managers) (http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/survey-reports/employee-outlook-focus-trust-leaders.aspx); An Institute of Leadership and Management study in 2014 found that only 43% of middle managers and first line managers trusted their own manager. Engage for Success in turn suggest that 70% of employees do not trust their managers.
There is obviously a cause and effect question here, and just because someone does not totally trust a manager does not immediately mean that manager is not trustworthy. However, when you look at the engagement shortfall in the UK, and widespread suggestions that less than a third of the workforce in the UK is fully engaged, there are clearly potentially huge gains to be reaped in even small improvements to this figure – and the area of trust could be low hanging fruit.
So why not start in your organisation with some of the following:
- Measure perceptions of your staff around trust – between staff and their direct managers and staff and senior management overall.
- Set targets to enhance this (unless of course you are the proverbial exception that proves the rule – in which case please do contact us and blog on how you got there!).
- In hiring, promoting and training recognise the importance both of managers being trustworthy to their teams and reports and being able to engender a belief in this.
- Find time to train new managers – and find time to return to and reinforce that training. Some facets of trust cannot be trained, so need to be sorted in hiring or promoting, but others can.
- Don’t force your managers into positions where they cannot be true to their teams (if you have the right people they should not be letting you anyway).
- Ensure your managers have time to devote to their reports – training them, listening to and communicating with them.
- Ensure that staff have safe ways of letting you, and your managers, know when trust has broken down, or is in danger of being eroded.
Get the above right and you have sorted one key plank of your organisational effectivenes; Get it wrong, and a fundamental part of your foundation is missing.