Trust is Easily Broken

I was reading this post earlier and wanted to share it with you because, in my experience, there are a lot of corporate leaders who do not understand how easily it is to lose the trust of the people who work for you and how important that is.

Employees Expect an Experience Based on Trust

Sharlyn does an excellent job of describing how leadership can break employees’ trust and linking to more reading on the subjects. (Do an employee engagement survey and don’t act on the results? That’ll do it. Make it unsafe for people to express ideas and ask questions? That too.)

As she says in wrapping it up:

The employee experience is important. Candidates want to talk about it during the interview. Employees want to learn about it during onboarding. And all along the way, employees want to know that they can trust their employer to do the right thing – be honest. Even when we don’t have all the answers. Or when we have an answer that the employee might not want to hear.

One of the worst ways I’ve seen this done is making a decision and then sending someone else to explain it to employees. This goes poorly when it’s a difficult decision, not quite a layoff but a difficult decision nonetheless. (I’ve not been directly involved in a layoff where the CEO or Managing Partner didn’t explain it to everyone, but I believe it’s happened.)

What happens is that the direct manager who has to explain it to their reports doesn’t fully understand why the decision was made, can’t answer questions about it, and in some worst-case scenarios, outwardly disagrees with it. (BTW, managers, no matter how much you disagree with a decision, don’t do this. It’s a death knell for your team.)

Consider the message this sends to employees. This decision was made at a level above the person who is left to explain it to you. No one from that level wants to explain it or answer your questions. That’s not a trustworthy organization. That’s a leader hiding from people being impacted by their decisions.

That’s not a leader I’d want to work for. Some might even argue that they aren’t a leader at all.

When you lose that trust, you’ll lose the retention battle.

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