June 26, 2008

Trust in the Workplace

Do you trust your manager? Does he/she trust you? How do you know? Does it even matter?

There are differing opinions regarding this issue. Some say it is unreasonable to expect trust between employees, managers and peers in the workplace given the nature of work today and it may even be counterproductive or detrimental. For example, being overly trusting of others may lead you to divulge information that is then used against you. You tell a fellow Sales Manager about potential leads you are working on, and later discover that person following those leads and making the sale. We all have examples of people who have taken credit for our work after we innocently shared the information "trusting" that we would not be undermined. Why trust, better to be self-protective.

Others posit that Trust is EXACTLY what is needed in the workplace---the more the better. In the situation described above, for example, a trusting relationship between the Sales Managers could serve as deterrent for such undercutting behavior.

I am particularly interested in the topic of Trust between Managers and their Employees. In my work, I have seen the damage that occurs when it is lacking. A manager who cannot trust his/her employees will have difficulty achieving business goals and objectives. An employee who does not trust the manager, may not reveal concerns about work that is going awry and could conceal errors that may potentially have a major negative impact on productivity.

Though Trust goes both ways, one cannot deny that there is a power differential between managers and direct reports. Leaders must set the tone and create the environment that will foster trusting relationships at work.

If you are a manager, you should ask yourself these questions..
  • Do my employees trust me?
  • Do they really?
  • How do I know? and if not,
  • How can I change that?

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