2 Factors Critical to Building Trust (and Engagement) at Work

Recognize This! – Managers must be willing to engage in the difficult aspects of managing others in order to help all employees achieve to their best ability.

As I continue to catch up on a backlog in my readers and research feeds, I’m seeing themes emerge. One is around the importance of trust for employee engagement. Employees who do not trust company leadership will not (indeed, cannot) engage as deeply in their work. They do not give their best efforts because they do not see the value and benefit of doing so.

Just a couple of key factors to building trust in the workplace jumped out at me.

1) Managers must be willing to have the hard conversations with low performing employees.

Many were surprised at recent survey that low performers are often more highly engaged than high performers. I was not, simply because low performers too often don’t know they are low performers. Therefore, they are quite happily skating by at work. It’s the effect on the high performers who see their lower producing colleagues getting away with it that dramatically impacts trust in the organization. Or, as Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ (the company that did the survey behind these results) said, “It shows high performers that the organization is not a meritocracy.”

Managers must be willing to have the difficult conversations with low performers, not only to help them improve their own skills and productivity, but to also help build trust with top performers that leadership will do the right thing to reinforce best effort from everyone.

2) Managers must appropriately value employee effort as well as achievement.

Let’s be honest. Every innovative approach and thought doesn’t work. We know that to be true at Globoforce where our core values are Respect, Imagination, Determination and Innovation. The four together drive our success. While it’s all well and good to imagine new ideas and approaches, unless we have the determination to see them realized and the respect for each other as we do, we will never truly deliver the innovation that pushes our industry ever forward.

And yet, part of that approach means we sometimes imagine something that doesn’t work as expected. But we can always learn something from that effort and apply those learning to continue to imagine and innovate. That’s the determination needed to keep moving forward. Without validation of and respect for the effort and encouragement to find the lesson (even in the failure) and move forward, employees would lose trust in our values and our goals as an organization.

What other elements are critical to building trust?

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