A YouGov study for Investors in People published this week showed that fewer than 30% of those surveyed had complete trust their bosses. 78% believed that their bosses had let them down in the past and 55% said that their managers had shared confidential information about them with other members of staff. 49% said that their bosses had failed to provide enough support to enable them to do their jobs effectively.
The figures get worse for those with longer service. Only 25% of those surveyed, who had over 10 years service with the same employer, had complete trust their bosses.
The survey covered 1800 people across the UK, which is a reasonable sample size, and even allowing for the employee whinge factor, these figures are alarmingly high.
For those familiar with Harry Braverman’s work, these findings should come as no surprise. The relationship between boss and worker is, by definition, an unequal one and, unless the boss works hard to win the trust of employees, they will naturally default to some degree of suspicion. If managers want build trust, they need to spend time helping their team members to develop and understanding the day to day frustrations of their jobs. More honesty and directness would help too.
No amount of culture change programmes, motivational speakers, sing-songs at away days or rah-rah training events can be a substitute for just getting out there and talking to your staff. Without this basic day-to-day contact, your team members will start to lose confidence and respect for you. Perhaps you could try to make up for it by singing a song at a conference, to show people what a good bloke you are, but by then it will be too late. There will already be people in the audience thinking, “This guy’s a total prat”.