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Effective Managers Gain the Trust of Their Employees

Effective Managers Gain the Trust of Their Employees

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By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management, American Public University

I recently participated in a LinkedIn conversation during which an interesting topic arose regarding how managers believe they should act toward the employees under their charge. I found it interesting that a couple of managers felt they did not need to recognize or appreciate the work of their staff.

Why did those managers feel that way? One manager said they should not have to thank their staff for a good job because those employees were doing what was expected of them. If an employee did not go above and beyond the requirements of a job, there was no need to show appreciation.

The mindset of these managers is that they do not need to acknowledge employees or ever thank them. These managers commonly say, “That’s what they are being paid for.”

Managers Should Treat Employees with Respect and Trust to Retain Talented People

I don’t agree with that notion; leaders need to constantly show they value the work that has been completed satisfactorily. We are living in a time when the common perception is that the labor market is tight. Even so, treating employees with respect should be a no-brainer. Nevertheless, some managers do not see the value of a basic “thank you.”

What’s the downside? If you don’t treat your employees how THEY want to be treated, they may seek employment elsewhere. Disenchanted or disgruntled employees might go to your competitor, especially if they are good at what they do.

In a recent survey reported by Inc.com, 81 percent of respondents said they would work harder for a grateful manager. Employees have to believe that their leaders will do the right thing. There has to be a sense of trust.

If employees don’t trust their manager, they will become disengaged and only do what is required and even go on an internal strike. An internal strike is when an employee:

  • Lacks empathetic feelings toward a manager who hurt the employee’s feelings
  • Lacks authenticity and does not provide the leader with feedback regarding why the employee is offended
  • Pulls back from the leader and emotionally and physically withdraws from departmental activities
  • Limits involvement in company activities and doesn’t share information unless it is specifically requested

How to Establish Trust between a Manager and Employees

Trust has to be established in order for employees to feel appreciated. According to Forbes business contributor Dennis Jaffe, there is a foundation of qualities for trust. Managers need these qualities to maintain a healthy workplace environment and to create meaningful relationships with their subordinates.  These qualities include:

  • Reliability and dependability: A person or group honors any promise made to employees.
  • Transparency: People need to be “in the know” and be made aware of events going on around them. When leaders hold secret meetings, many employees feel left out. When these employees are not kept informed of company news, anxiety and stress set in as employees wonder about what is occurring.
  • Competency: Employees will not trust a manager they believe to be incompetent. Leaders need to be in a position where they can get assistance, especially if they believe they are a victim of the Peter Principle.
  • Sincerity, authenticity and congruency: Managers should stand by their word. For example, if you tell your employees something, make sure you can deliver it. Employees know when you aren’t being honest.
  • Fairness: Employees need to feel as though everyone is treated the same and no one is receiving special treatment.
  • Openness and vulnerability: Employees have to see you as human and with some sense of values. They do not expect to see a perfect leader who is without blemishes. For instance, when you are wrong, make sure you apologize and share your shortcomings with your employees. A timely apology or an admission of being wrong is a powerful weapon to build or rebuild trust.

After reviewing your managerial qualities, where do you stand with your employees? What processes do you have to put into place to be in compliance with the list?

Start 2019 off right by devising a plan to be in compliance with the managerial qualities your employees want to see in you. Work to restore trust with those who help you get the job done.

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and influential leader, manifesting people skills, a systematic approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.

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