Several weeks ago, as part of our ongoing newsletter series, we sent out an article titled “What Employees Expect (and really, really want)?” LINK. There has been an overwhelming response regarding 1 specific area of interest that was highlighted, “Trust”. I thought it would be beneficial to spend a few minutes delving deeper into that subject. What trust means to you, for your employees, for your organization, and the importance of monitoring the trust level to ensure that we are utilizing it effectively as a recruiting & retention tool.
Does your company measure trust? Do managers undergo “trust” training? Do you poll employees to gauge what level of trust they have in you as a manager or your organization? Most companies do not, for fear that they will learn things that might be uncomfortable, or worse unchangeable!
Organizations that foster “low trust” environments suffer across the board including high employee turnover, customer churn, slow speed of execution and increased costs for goal accomplishment. On an organizational level, trust is considered something “soft” and of course very difficult to measure on an ongoing basis. As such, things that cannot be measured quantifiably are often not granted much importance. But that does not mean that it does not directly influence productivity and hence company performance.
To build a “high-trust” organization, you must behave your way there, by clearly demonstrating credibility, accountability, and reliability. These behaviors must start at the top and be exhibited by senior leaders throughout the organization, in and around the office and be very clear and apparent (quite challenging while we are all remote). While you cannot always control the level of trust throughout your organization as a whole, you can always act in ways that promote trust in your immediate work environment, whether this includes your department, your work team, your coworkers in your cubicle section, or remote workers that you interact with regularly.
A common mistake that managers make is that they confuse control for trust. Control is not the same as trust. Even more so, relying on control as a way to manage employees actually leaves little room to build trust.
At the very core, in order to accept trust into an equation, there needs to be an acceptance of vulnerability as well. Unfortunately, most of us are very reluctant to display that vulnerability especially at work for fear that it will make us less effective and diminish our standing rather than enhance it. When real trust is present and palpable, then multiple parties are okay with a certain level of vulnerability. Hence, the need for constant monitoring will decrease and the trust level will rise. When managers, however, do resort to actions that signal the need to control another’s actions, then vulnerability is taken out of the equation and little trust will be experienced.
The controlling behaviors that many managers have displayed during the COVID-19 crisis painstakingly makes clear that companies have problems in establishing and communicating trust to their employees. It is far easier to develop trust with people you work with (and see) every day, but what about people you do not know well? Tantamount to a positive trust relationship is effective, honest, two-way communication. Other bedrocks in the trust relationship include doing what you say you will do, exhibiting curiosity and listening genuinely, honest feedback (no sugar coating), not engaging in gossip and working transparently.
One way that successful companies have adapted over the past several months is by instituting programs focused on “everything but work” issues designed to make employees feel comfortable that their individual issues are not discounted. As this is a time of heightened stress, everyone is experiencing different “pain points” regarding work and home life. it is more important than ever to keep in mind that real trust comes from accepting a person for who they are and appreciating their uniqueness rather than asking them (or expecting them) to be or act like someone else.
As in person interviews are currently on hold for most of us, many companies have also started to institute “scenario” testing among prospective and newly hired employees as a measuring stick. While not perfect, it is certainly another prospective tool to be utilized. If you are interested in some of the available tools, please let me know.
Trust in the workplace boils down recognizing that a company / team is a far better operating as the sum of its parts, rather than islands of individuals jockeying for position!
Feel free to reach out directly to discuss this topic further as well as any other questions or concerns regarding the current hiring climate. I guarantee that in our call together you will leave with 2 or 3 ideas that will greatly impact your ability to find, attract, and procure the top 10-15% of the candidate pool on a consistent basis
Peter Tannenbaum is sought out by leaders in Financial Services who recognize the need to attract the industry’s best talent. Through Ramax Search’s extensive network of relationships and their “deep dive” qualification process, they are able to identify and secure individuals who represent the top tier of Financial Services professionals. To discover how this process can benefit your organization, call Peter at 212.686.1686 ext. 102.