The Crucial Role of Reliable and Trustworthy Managers During A Crisis

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When employees feel genuinely cared for and see that their managers are taking care of them, loyalty and commitment become stronger, and employees are willing to reciprocate and go the extra mile in return, even in times of diversity and crisis.

This reinforcing loop helps the organization navigate immediate challenges, and also positions it for faster recovery in the long term as trust builds, and feelings of pride, respect and fairness grow.

Earlier this week, I was on a Zoom meeting with a senior leader from a well-known global organization.

It was clear from the outset of the call that she was distracted and struggling with an interaction she had with her leader. “Do you want to talk about it?” I asked her. She described a situation that many of us have faced before.

She said her manager had electronically denied a request she submitted. There was no phone call ahead of this to discuss the reason, and no explanation for the denial. She was clearly deflated.

“I’m a senior leader in this organization,” she started. “You’d think he would trust me enough to approve my request or at least show the respect of talking with me before he denied it. I guess I shouldn’t be killing myself for this organization.”

I’ve known this senior leader for several years. She’s wired to be an over-achiever consistently giving more than is expected. After the call, I couldn’t help but think about how this exchange with her leader would affect not only their relationship but also how much extra effort she will (or won’t) give going forward.

What a clear example of how the power and importance of trust in the workplace. When trust is lacking, interactions like this one suck the enthusiasm and productivity right out of your people, no matter how committed and driven they are.

The impact of untrustworthy leaders

When trust is low, many aspects of working life suffer:

  • Employees put less effort and attention into their work
  • Levels of collaboration and cooperation with others plummet
  • Employees care less about the success of the organization

The associated business cost is clear, even if it may be difficult to quantify. In this example, trust is eroding at the most senior level of the organization. If she is having a less than desirable experience, how is this likely to show up in her leadership?

Untrustworthy leaders damage perceptions of fairness

Employees’ perceptions of fairness in the workplace are directly impacted by their experience of trust with their leader and the organization.

When employees don’t trust their leaders, they are more likely to feel pay, promotions and other workplace decisions are unfair.

In the absence of trust, we tend to create our own narrative of underlying agendas that influence decisions.

The reverse is also true – when we have trust in our leaders, we are more likely to:

  • Assume the best of intentions
  • Give the benefit of the doubt when we don’t understand or agree with decisions
  • Go above and beyond what is expected in our work

This frees us energy to focus on the success of our leader and the organization – even when uncertainty exists.

How to measure employees’ levels of trust in their leaders

Among the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®:

  • 82% of employees consistently experience management delivering on promises.
  • 83% experience management’s actions matching its words.

These statements within our Trust Index™ survey serve as an indicator of the degree of trust employees experience with their leaders. An analysis of employee comments of those experiencing trustworthy management describe their culture using words such as:

  • “Win/win”
  • “Supportive”
  • “Amazing”
  • “Fantastic”

These answers contrast sharply with the comments of employees who are not having this experience. Their top phrases include:

  • “Emotionally drained”
  • “Favoritism”
  • “Poor decisions”
  • “False promises”
  • “Overworked and underpaid”

People who trust their leaders and feel involved in decisions that impact them are:

  • 8 times more likely to deliver great customer service
  • 9 times more likely to want to stay a long time at the company
  • 14 times more likely to strongly recommend their workplace to others
How to recession-proof your business by ensuring trustworthy leadership

We know that trust takes time to build. Psychologist and author, Brené Brown shares how she taught her daughter to think about trust using a jar of marbles as a metaphor:

  • Every time someone does what they say they are going to do; you add a marble to the jar
  • Each time someone breaks trust, you take a marble out

The goal for all of us is to fill each other’s jar up.

1. Relationships matter

It’s difficult to have trust with someone you don’t know well. When leaders invest time into getting to know their employees as a person and a professional, this goes a long way to adding marbles to the jar.

Regular and frequent one-on-one time with employees (weekly or bi-weekly), even if only for 15 minutes, creates conditions to connect in a way that engenders trust. Exploring employees’ goals, motivations and interests, and getting to know them personally, creates the kind of connection that enables a stronger relationship.

2. Listening

Giving a person time and focus by being fully present and actively listening is one of the biggest demonstrations of respect, caring and acknowledgement that can be given.

We all have a basic human need to be heard and understood. Demonstrating curiosity and fully listening is the foundation for trust and relationships.

3. Open communication

Taking the time to share information transparently and authentically is a show of respect and a powerful trust builder.

Sharing information sends a message to people that they matter, that you value them, and you are invested in their success.

4. Involving people in decisions

When employees are involved in decisions that impact them, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to your success and that of the organization.

Involvement creates conditions for employees to contribute their voice and ideas. In doing this, they feel valued and have a sense of purpose – a basic human need.

When we can contribute and make a difference, we are more invested in the outcome.

Start collecting those marbles

Trustworthy leadership is more important than ever for weathering the challenges of COVID-19 and a recession. Organizations need to be agile, resilient and innovative to navigate the rough waters we all are experiencing.

This requires maximizing the capabilities of your people which can only be accomplished by creating an environment where every employee wants to give their best and is committed to the success of your organization.

If you want to measure the level of TRUST your employees have in their leaders, Great Place To Work®’s robust methodology ensures that every single employee, no matter who they are or what they do for their company, is having a consistently positive experience at work. Reach out to us about our employee survey and culture management platform.

GREAT PLACE TO WORK

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Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

To determine the 2022 Vietnam Best Workplaces™, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 20,000 employees across different industries in Vietnam. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️.

85% of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry. The remaining 15% of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified™ standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. 

Companies with 10-99 people were considered for the Small category, companies with 100-999 people were considered for the Medium category and companies with 1000+ people were considered for the Large category.