Of all of the many workplace issues we encounter, one of the most impactful and pervasive is lack of trust. Quite often employees’ mistrust surfaces in times of change. As change occurs, employees will have questions – most unasked – about the reason for and impact of the changes. They will want to know how the change will affect them personally. They will be watching, waiting, and talking around the water cooler about what they see and what they believe is happening. If organizational change is not accompanied by visible and accessible leadership, effective communication, and opportunities to provide input and engage in dialogue, trust will be damaged.
Even in the best of circumstances, there may be pockets of employees who experience an erosion of trust in their organizations or in their leaders as they move forward. A recent workplace study by Deloitte Consulting revealed that nearly half of the one-third of Americans who say they will look for a job when the economy improves cited loss of trust in their employer as the reason. So what can you do as a leader to rebuild trust starting now?
The authors of “Rebuilding Trust in the Workplace,” Dennis and Michelle Reina, Ph.Ds, offer a seven-step process for rebuilding trust in organizations by beginning a dialogue, listening, supporting, and moving forward together. What’s terrific about the process they lay out is its focus on the emotions and reactions of the people of the organization – something often overlooked or avoided. And trust is an emotional issue. Leaders are headed down the wrong path if they expect people to just “suck it up and do their jobs.” Employees will regain trust in the leaders who admit that trust has been damaged, invite and listen to feedback and perspectives of their people, and paint a compelling picture about the kind of organization they aim to build with capable and engaged employees.
What has damaged trust in your organization? What steps have you taken and will you take to begin to rebuild trust? We’d love to hear about it.