Post Date: April 5th, 2017

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2017, 63% of employees  don’t trust their leader which is a pretty horrifying statistic. To make it worse that figure has dropped by 12 points in recent years. So this lack of trust is in rapid decline.

If that is not a warning bell – a very loud, screaming warning bell – then I don’t know what else could be!

So, what are the main causes for lack of trust?

I believe that the key reasons are:

  • Lack of confidence – don’t believe that the leader will deliver.
  • Lack of clarity – if there is a lack of clarity about the direction we are going in, then how can I have trust?
  • Lack of openness – as soon as I believe I am not being communicated with fully and transparently, I will mistrust
  • Lack of support – if I do not believe my leaders has my best interests at heart, and have a real commitment to my growth, then I cannot trust.

I know that list can be longer but I believe these are the 4 key ones.

The silver lining in all of those reasons is that they are not complex to fix. I did  not say they are easy, just not complex!

What the Edelman report goes on to say is that the solution lies in having a more engaged group of employees.

It is about listening to our people and then acting upon suggestions.

It is about constant and transparent communication.

It is about working WITH our people and not just directing.

It is about demonstrating that the leaders will do their part to build that trust.

This is not about a one day workshop that makes us all “feel” good. It is about transforming the organisation and abandoning the old, hierarchical structure of command and control.

I know many organisations who pride themselves on having moved beyond command and control culture, and are all for full engagement with their people. However, frequently  there is a gap between what they say and what they do. That is another false promise and destroys trust.

I had a conversation recently with an employee of an organisation that I work with and the comment was:

“You have heard our leader say at meetings where you have attended that the style of leadership is to engage proactively with our people, but that is only talk! His behaviour contradicts that and so I don’t trust him.”

How damning is that! Because this leader is not consistent with behaviour in this one area, there is no trust at all. You either trust or don’t trust –  it is either one or the other. This really brings home the need for consistency – and being consistent is not always easy.

So employee engagement is not just the latest buzz word which one avows to. It is a process that brings your people to the centre of your organisation and you view your organisation in that way rather than the traditional pyramid. This was a clear finding of the Edelman Report.

So, if you take one message away from this article then it is about communication – endless communication.

What should you be communicating?

  • Your vision
  • Your values
  • Your strategy
  • Your passion that winning in the business is for everyone
  • Your commitment to develop your people
  • Your real commitment to true empowerment.

Final word of warning – just be sure that your actions are consistent with your words! Otherwise you will be among that group of leaders in the 63% group – that’s a club I do not want to be a member of.

Thoughts? Please feel free to share them below. Would be happy to hear from you!

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