Although it might seem obvious - trust is the foundation of a good working environment.
It is also generally acknowledged that those employees who trust their boss will work harder and be more engaged - and those without such trust will slacken off.
Trust must of course, be earned, and the beauty of it is when people trust you; they have confidence in your decisions.
Even in uncertainty, they will be influenced by your leadership, and follow you through both good and bad times.
There are many ways for managers and supervisors to build better trust and engagement with their employees:
- Keep your promises
Employees do not trust managers who do not fulfil their promises. Therefore if you are prone to sweeping promises or grandiose assurances – either tone things down a bit, or be certain to fulfil them. This applies whether those commitments involve holiday bonuses or company growth projections.
- Be accountable for mistakes
When a leader acknowledges their mistakes as well as their successes, employees see them as credible and follow their lead. This also encourages honest dialogue and accountability throughout the organisation by building in more open systems and processes that become part of the culture.
- Promote teamwork
A leader’s behaviour as a role model for their organisation is hugely important when it comes to influencing employee actions and producing better trust and results. By ‘walking the talk’, a leader demonstrates their ability to actually do the things they ask others to do. For example, by stressing the importance of teamwork, you can reinforce the point by collaborating across teams and functions. Also, by giving credit to others when they do great work, helps to encourage a more appreciative culture.
- Listen to employee feedback
By being completely open to employee feedback and criticism and enabling your employees to express themselves - you will engender better trust from all concerned. Listen to everything that is being said, no matter how critical, and distil the best of that employee wisdom to put in place any changes you want to make to your management style.
- Tell the truth
A good boss must understand what their employees need to know and be able to communicate the facts truthfully - while also showing support and understanding for their team members. Even when it is most difficult, it is important to tell the truth - and not just what people want to hear.
- Be respectful
When you treat your employees as you would want to be treated - you are well on the way to gaining your employees’ trust. Respect is one of the foundations of building trust and without it, trust is almost impossible to attain. Therefore, if you don’t respect your employees - don’t expect them to reciprocate.
- Be consistent
Being consistent in what you say and do builds trust over time. However, this is of course, not something you can do ‘only occasionally’. The best way to show your consistency is to always fulfil your commitments in all of your relationships, all of the time.
- Coach, don’t command.
Dale Carnegie advised, decades ago, that managers should ask questions rather than giving direct orders. Mentoring promotes learning - while demanding only engenders resentment, frustration, and bitterness. Therefore, a leader should be a core resource for training, conflict solving, and providing knowledge to help the employee grow.
Obviously, transparency, trust and confidence in an organisation are vital in order to inspire employees to be engaged. Hopefully, this will also mean they are involved, enthusiastic and committed to their work.
The need to increase and maintain engagement is therefore fundamental to organisations.
And although recent surveys show it is on the rise - the overall picture is still not good. According to recent Gallup poll data, only about 34 per cent of US workers—and 13 per cent of workers worldwide—reported being engaged at work.
Those numbers translate to some serious reductions in productivity, customer service and profitability. Another poll by the Hay Group - a management consulting company – also found organisations with strong employee engagement scores generated revenue growth at a rate of 2.5 times higher than companies with lower marks.
This is certainly very strong evidence of the need for organisations to do all they can to keep their employees engaged.