If you're a manager, you've heard it at least once in your career, "You don't trust me," or "Management doesn't trust us." Now if you're honest with yourself, when you've heard either comment, you've tried not to roll your eyes as you've thought to yourself, "Whiner, whiner, whiner." Be honest. We've all done it.
However, if those comments are said more than once or by more than one person - look out. You may have a number of problems that need to be addressed - and quickly. Employees typically start using the "no trust" comment when they feel impeded in their ability to do their jobs. They bring it out when they feel restricted, limited, or micromanaged. They use it when their ability to do basic to difficult aspects of their jobs is restricted. Why the restrictions? Management may fear the employees will somehow mess up if given full rein, or the employees will have access to "sensitive" information in order to fulfill select tasks. With the best of intentions, management is screwing up.
When management doesn't trust the employees, the employees don’t trust management. No one wins.
By trying to prevent a mistake or control sensitive data, management is creating a culture where employees do not (because they cannot) fulfill the full scope of their position responsibilities. Management is creating under-achievers. In addition, skilled, competent, well-meaning employees become frustrated as they feel handcuffed in their abilities to perform. By trying to create safeguards, management is creating confusion as far as who can do what, who can access what data, and who will handle which parts of various tasks.
Management is confusing roles and responsibilities, as well as creating frustration and a lack of trust. Management doesn't trust the employees to fulfill their position responsibilities completely. As a result, the employees don't trust management to give them an assignment and then let them do it. So when the employees are handed a task, they often look to management with hesitation - waiting for management to snatch parts of it right back. However, what management observes is an employee population that doesn't "own" the work they're given. Management doesn't trust the employees. The employees don't trust management. No one wins.
If you've heard the "no trust" comment or you do shortly, do not brush it aside. Ask a few questions to determine what actions are creating the negative environment:
- Help me understand. Specifically, what has happened that makes you believe I don't (management doesn't) trust you?
- Give me an example of what you have experienced that causes you to say, "There's no trust around here."
Then, sit back and listen. If the employee doesn't share specific examples that allow you to clearly understand his or her perspective, ask again and wait until you hear specific examples of management's restrictive behavior. You may be amazed at how your good intentions have created handcuffs, confusion, and frustration for your employees.
Copyright MMX - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!