By Diane Lange
Listen up bosses; according to a study published by the Harvard Business Review in 2009, a majority of people reported that they trust a stranger more than they trust their boss. If you’re like me, you had to read that twice. Worse yet, Michelle McQuaid, a world leader in positive psychology conducted a survey of 1000 American executives and found that a staggering 35 percent of Americans are actually happy at their job while the other 65 percent said they would rather have a better boss than a pay raise. And you thought the almighty dollar ruled.
Given these statistics, it is no wonder that people leave their jobs. As the old adage says, “people leave managers, not organizations” and according to Gallup the number one reason people leave organizations is because of bad managers and leaders. Managers may be bad for a variety of reasons and one of the reasons is failing to establish a trusting relationship with their staff. Essential work relationships can be marred or destroyed by a leader’s actions that cross boundaries, break rules, or demonstrate arrogant attitudes that reflect a belief that the rules don’t apply to them. Unfortunately, every time we hear news stories that leaders do something illegal, immoral, or unethical it further erodes what little trust we have left.
But the actions that ruin trust don’t need to be as big as all that; they can be as subtle as ‘little white lies’. I worked for a boss who told me and my team an explanation that we all knew to be untrue. Though we liked the boss, once the lie was said we were very disappointed; we felt betrayed, we kept our distance and we thought twice about what information we would share.
Once the distrust was established something intangible yet very important was lost – respect. Communication would never be the same and we would never again feel safe.
My example isn’t unique. Forbes reports that 82% of those surveyed didn’t think their bosses tell them truth. Sadly, now I join that 82%. And there is more disturbing information. Edelman’s Trust Barometer for 2013 – one of the largest surveys of its kind to date – recently released results from 31,000 international participants and reported that only 18% of the respondents trust that business leaders tell the truth.
All of this has an obvious effect on our businesses and organizations; employees are stressed and disengaged and Gallup polls tell us that poorly managed teams are, on average, 50% less productive and 44% less profitable than well-managed teams. The negative impact of distrust, poor relationships and poor management in the workplace has ripple effects that go wide and deep. Good leaders understand that positive relationships and trust are not just HR ‘niceties’, but are essentials for improved moral, better team work, fewer sick days, superior performance, decreased turnover and increased profitability.
© Proclivity LLC 2013