Three years ago, 37% of CEOs were concerned about a lack of trust in businesses, according to the PwC Annual Global CEO survey. Across industries, that number has climbed to 55%.
A high level of trust between managers and employees defines the best workplaces and drives overall company performance and revenue. As Stephen M. R. Covey writes in The Speed of Trust, “When trust goes down (in a relationship, on a team, in an organization, or with a partner or customer), speed goes down and cost goes up.… The inverse is equally true: When trust goes up, cost goes down, and speed goes up.” Because less than 50% of lower-level (nonexecutive, nonmanagerial) employees trust the companies they work for, employers have to carefully consider how they can build trusting relationships with their employees.
Employees who don’t trust their managers usually point to big-picture, obvious things: Their superiors skate the edges of ethical behavior, hide information, take credit for others’ hard work, or flat-out deceive people. Over my many years of helping organizations create high-performance workplaces, I’ve seen firsthand how untrustworthy managers damage morale and productivity. If employees are tight-lipped about problems until their manager exits the room and then suddenly have lots of things to tell me about his secretiveness, bullying, and penchant for pitting them against one another, the problems are easy to identify.
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