Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Win the trust of your employees

When Anthony Weiner recently resigned, he became just another political figure who had to step down from a leadership position after demonstrating toxic behavior. It seems that every year there is some sort of scandal involving politicians, which is why many Americans view elected officials as untrustworthy and unethical.

Trust is hard to establish and easy to lose. And since so many politicians have abused their power, many people don’t trust them. Unfortunately, this also can apply to the business community.

More often than not, employees have been disappointed at some point in their careers by a manager or leader. Chances are due to the bad behavior of previous bosses, employees may be cautious with how much they are willing to trust you.

This is why nine out of ten leaders are in “negative trust territory” before they make their first request of an employee to do something, according to Jon Hamm, author of Unusually Excellent: The Necessary Nine Skills Required for the Practice of Great Leadership. That’s right, even before you speak, your employees may already be questioning your honesty.

But you simply can’t afford to lose your employees’ trust. After all, your success in inspiring others to lead depend largely upon whether or not you are a person who is perceived as trustworthy and of high integrity.

You will suffer mishaps as a leader, but keep in mind that small deviations from complete honesty and integrity are often magnified and remembered for a long time.

So make the effort to be the leader that demonstrates a commitment to honesty and fairness. Here are some other development tips to keep in mind:

· Do not promise or commit (including to deadlines) unless you will be able to honor the commitment. Consistently follow through on commitments.

· Avoid doing things you would be uncomfortable hearing about on a national news program.

· If you have lost trust and do not know what you did, ask. Listen carefully to what is said, without arguing or trying to defend yourself. After you fully understand what you did that came across in a way you did not intend, you can begin to develop a strategy to make it right.

· Don’t give tough messages or express negative emotions via e-mail or voice mail.

· Make sure your message is consistent. Avoid saying different things to different audiences.

· Don’t promise confidentiality if you aren’t certain you can or should keep the information private.

Remember, if employees don’t have trust in you, they won’t follow you.

What tips do you have for gaining the trust of employees?

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