How much do you trust your
staff and why does it matter? Trust affects the bottom line-the way you treat
employees is the way they will treat customers. If it's acceptable that a company
or manager doesn't have to keep promises, then you can almost guarantee employees
won't be keeping promises to customers either. You've heard this before, "People
do business with people they trust." A customer's trust in a company starts
with a company's trust in its employees. As Lance Secretan says in Reclaiming
Higher Ground, " Our society is suffering from truth decay." He goes on
to suggest that, especially in teams, telling the truth is essential.
"If the members of a symphony
lie to each other, they will play awful music," Secretan says. So it goes in
any team environment. One of the most compelling advantages for telling the
truth-it is efficient. Over a third of a company's budget may be devoted to
administrative functions like controls, reports and procedures. A lot of these
controls exist because management doesn't trust employees. What if we could
do away with the controls and trust each other to do our best? It would be much
less expensive and much more efficient.
Killing the Trust Factor
Is trust affecting your
bottom line? Here are some things companies do that kill the trust factor:
1) They don't model what
they say. As American aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright said, " A parrot talks
much but flies little." Example: a company has a slogan, "Customer Service is
our number one priority," yet you walk into the store and nobody says hello,
they won't accept your checks and the staff are detached and uninterested.
Example: a company says
the most important asset is their people then they make changes that affect
all employees without notice or input.
2) they make promises they
can't keep. Example: a manager says she will give everyone a raise next month-she
also said that last month.
3) they guard and selectively
disclose information. Example: There are corporate zones off limits for some
employees. Information is guarded and only a select few are in the know. Meetings
happen behind closed doors.
4) they don't allow employees
to exercise their own judgment. Example: the company always goes by the book.
There are so many rules designed so that people don't have to think about what
they should do.
5) the company asks for
input and suggestions, then ignores them. Example: a manager asks for suggestions
on improving service. An employee offers two good ideas and no one says anything
or brings it up again. Employees get the feeling that management is going through
the motions but they really don't want the input.
Of course, you won't use
all ideas, but follow-up is essential. It shows you are listening;
6) everything is monitored,
from the number of sick days to productivity levels.
Defining Trust in the
When I speak to organizations
about creating trust in the workplace, these are the most common qualities participants
say about trustworthy companies and individuals.
"They have never let me
"They do what they say they
"I know they have my best
interests in mind."
"He knows what he's talking
about and admits it when he doesn't."
Here are the qualities I
think define a trusting workplace:
1) open communications.
Employees talk openly and informally, sharing between individuals and departments.
Everyone's opinion is valued equally. When changes occur employees are included
and involved. Suggestions and input are encouraged and always followed up. Managers
listen to employees;
2) empowered employees.
Employees are encouraged to use their own judgment to solve problems. Rules
are a guideline, not a solution;
3) everyone is accountable.
From managers to every level of staff, people keep their promises. They don't
say something will happen until they have the system and resources in place
to make sure it will happen. Involve the whole group and make everyone accountable.
Invest in commitments;
4) managers model decisions.
Until managers can model change themselves they don't expect other team members
to. They are careful that what is said on paper is realistic. They know it's
not just something to aim for but also something they are committed to and will
Have you ever walked into
a store and had an employee welcome you with as much enthusiasm as a two-by-four?
It happens a lot. I always think, why don't you say it like you mean it? Simple-if
they did, they would lose their job. An employee's attitude about their job
is often a good reflection of the company's attitude about their employees.
Companies who say "Service is our number one priority" and then cut staff hours
and paychecks are making one big mistake: they are lying. Service can only be
a priority when people become the priority.