Do Your Employees Trust You?

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By Deborah Goldstein, Driven Professionals

In order to compete in the business world, the 21st century corporation must foster a workplace that is not in competition with itself. Hopefully we’ve come to an agreement that trust and being in the present are central to an evolved career environment. However, through DRIVEN’s exposure to various firms, I have found that these two virtues, particularly trust, are sorely lacking in many workplaces. In reviewing my public and private interactions with the employees of these companies, the consensus shows that for assorted reasons, an alarming number of workers don’t trust leadership, don’t trust their managers, don’t trust their teammates, and don’t even trust their direct reports. This should be of paramount concern for those who manage younger employees, particularly when considering a Gallop article which indicates that millennials value a manager who will invest in their development.

My very own career mission is to inspire a grass-roots paradigm shift for the firms in question. Allow me to share with you a sliver of the valuable advice they receive from DRIVEN’s client services, sending them on the path to Corporate EQ.

Fear: The Obvious Enemy

In pinpointing trust as an area that needs serious attention, it might help to shed some light upon the factors that chip away at trust. Upon investigation, Fear is revealed as trust’s kryptonite. Take, for example, these actual citations from my clients on trust-related, heated emotions in the workplace:

Anger = Fear of
-Being powerless
-Not being heard
-Losing my job
-Not being taken seriously
-Not reaching my goals

Judgment = Fear of
-Being inferior
-Wasting my time

Impatience = Fear of
-Not having the time to tend to my agenda

What we’re looking at is evidence that negative emotion is not only related to fear, but that the two are inextricably entrenched. To add some context, consider Ekman’s emotions, laid out in the graphic below. Isolate the ones that would be placed at the bottom of Larry Senn’s Mood Elevator, and note their common denominator: Fear.

Allowing fear to be a roadblock to trust, in addition to being detrimental to our self-esteem, can literally stall our careers. But the good news, as DRIVEN has illustrated for folks on several occasions, is that fear is a controllable. Once we truly acknowledge that we have the personal wisdom and the resources to respond, not react, during crises of all magnitudes, fear begins to dissipate before it can take hold. And as you will soon discover, it helps exponentially when your colleagues share in that wisdom.

Achieving A Common Vision

With the new goal of cultivating a corporate environment rooted in trust, staffers at every level must share in a collective understanding. To get an idea of where your firm stands, ask yourself the following questions: Does everyone on the staff know what the corporate mission is? Are they aware of the company priorities for 2017? For 2020? For 2027 and beyond? Before answering “Yes” to these, consider folks in ALL departments. I mention this because it’s amazing how many firms I work with are under the false assumption that everyone is on the same page as leadership. In more cases than you might imagine, employees seem to be reading a different book entirely!

After bringing your company’s vision and goals into focus, it’s crucial that each employee be granted the mental space to meditate on a central tenet of EQ: internal motivation. Take it a step further by understanding and respecting their personal goals, provided they align with company goals, and offer them space for a WIIFM discussion. It’s a given that individuals should be expected to aspire to company-created goals. But for a firm to openly concede that individuals deserve to have their own ambitions creates a forum for communication and building trust.

Getting Long-Term Results

As you transition toward a culture of renewed workplace trust, there are certain protocols to follow that ensure both purity of intent and continued success. Ideally, all discussions should take place during a manager/direct report informational meeting that is neither a formal review nor tied to a raise. Additionally, since continued communication is the key to employee engagement and growth, the initial discussion should not be a one-off. One of my clients stands as a prime example of this approach. She leads a team of 18 employees and has one-on-one meetings with each of them twice a month. This gives her reports the opportunity to not only ask questions and be heard, but to know that feedback and follow-up are automatically and perpetually implied. My client and I designed these meetings with the goal of her investing of 9 hours a month to talent development. The results for all parties have been nothing short of impressive!

Deborah Goldstein is the founder of the Driven Professionals, a community driven to support the health, well-being & success potential of NYC professionals. Deborah is also the founder ofGoldie’s Table Matters, providing education and entertainment to both corporate and private clients nationwide.

If you’d like your firm to probe deeper into the EQ discussion and become more attractive to long-term employees, let DRIVEN offer you our customized Private Client Services. They’ve proven to be a recipe for success for a host of major players in business. Is it your company’s turn?


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