By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D., President DISCOVERY SURVEYS, INC.
Employees need to feel confident that senior management is competently running the organization and has solid long-term plans for the future. Otherwise, there will be an erosion of employee:
- Job performance; and
- Commitment to the organization.
What can be done to build employee trust in management?
- Communicate Successes
Even when business is slow, there are small wins that should be celebrated. If employees only hear the bad news, they will quickly lose confidence in management.
- Practice Open Book Management
Why can't management give their employees access to the organization's business plans, revenue, and expense information? They have every right to know how well the company is doing and the plans for the future. What better way to engender employee trust than to show them that nothing is being hidden from them?
- Admit to Failures
Nobody is perfect and most employees will give senior management the benefit of the doubt if they know the truth. Employees would trust senior management much more if CEOs would admit that the organization made a mistake, was short sighted, or just screwed up.
- Tie Senior Management Pay to Success
It is shameful that CEOs have been receiving such huge paydays even while their organizations crumble. How can employees trust senior managers who take no personal financial responsibility for the failings of the organization?
- Maintain a Long-term Focus
Senior management focuses too much on short-term fixes that may lead to immediate results but cost the organization in the long run. Study after study has shown that knee-jerk reactions to current economic conditions such as laying off employees, cutting research and development funding, and merging with other companies rarely lead to long-term success. CEOs need to communicate to employees that, although the current woes their organization may be experiencing is troubling, the company has a long-term business strategy that will help it emerge after the storm.
CONCLUSION: Management needs to show employees through both their actions and words that it is committed to the long-term survival of the organization.