Eric P. Bloom: Developing trust with your employees

Eric P. Bloom/Manager Mechanics

To be an effective manager, your team doesn’t have to like you, they don’t even really have to like working for you, but they do have to trust you. Otherwise, they will spend more time trying to protect themselves from you, rather than using their creative energies to follow your instructions. In short, you must be able to trust your group and they must be able to trust you.

Trust is an interesting thing between a subordinate and a manager. The manager has to take the lead and should consider doing the following.

  • Demand honesty from your staff
  • Make your anger known if someone lies to you or only tells you half-truths
  • Require that important information (good and bad) is communicated promptly
  • Show your disapproval if someone only tells you the good news and not the bad news

Then, in return for their promptness and honestly, you should:

  • Be honest to your staff members, if they feel they are being lied to, they will return it in kind
  • When your staff members tell you bad news and/or unpleasant information, you must work with them constructively to solve the problem, rather then punish them for it
  • Give appropriate praise and positive reinforcement when they act in an honest and appropriate manner

All that said, you will find that your constructive and helpful attitude toward your team’s problems will help you gain their trust. Additionally, they will also be more willingly to accept your advice, direction and constructive criticism.

A friend of mine likes to say, “Management would be great if it wasn’t for the people.” In that vein, if someone in your group is untrustworthy toward you, consider the following:

Are they acting in an untruthful way because they don’t trust you?

If they don’t trust you, do some soul-searching and try to figure out why. Remember, you are the manager; as a result, a trusted relationship begins with you. 

Next, try to correct the issue, thus forming a trusted relationship

Lastly, if the person is just truly untrustworthy by nature, consider removing them from your group when the opportunity arises.

On a personal note, over the years I have worked for managers I trusted and a few managers that I learned not to trust. When working for managers I trusted, I found myself to be more creative, more energized, more committed to my work, more willing to take on business-appropriate risks, more productive and more satisfied with my job. Now as the manager, wouldn’t you want all of your people to feel this way? I would assume so.

The primary advice and takeaway for today’s column is to know that:

  • As the manager, the level of trust formed within your department starts with you
  • Act in a way that help facilitate a trusting environment
  • Your team will be more productive and effective if they trust you
  • Trust in the workplace should be a two-way street

For additional information on today’s topic, I suggest the following books: “Trust & Betrayal in the Workplace,” by Dennis S. Reina and Michelle L. Reina; and “The SPEED of Trust,” by Stephen M.R. Covey. For comments on this topic or suggested future topics, please e-mail me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com.

Until next time, manage well, manage smart, and continue to grow.

Eric P. Bloom is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a training company specializing in new-manager training and Information Technology (IT) management training. Manager Mechanics LLC can be found on the Web at www.ManagerMechanics.com.