We’ve all heard the saying that “People don’t leave companies–they leave people.” In fact, research even shows that the primary reason people leave a company is due to lack of trust in their relationship with a manager or supervisor. So, if solid relationships are an essential factor in the ability to retain the best and brightest talent we have, then it makes sense that leaders must have strong, effective skills to build trust in today’s workplace.
In a recent study conducted by Watson Wyatt WorkUSA, it was found that only 39% of employees at U.S. companies say they actually trust the senior leaders. While pay and benefits sometimes surface as motivation for leaving an organization, the primary factor affecting turnover is whether or not a manager developed a trusting relationship with the employee.
When we consider the economic impact of the issue, it becomes apparent that a lack of trust at work is costing companies dearly – as evidenced by reduced productivity, inefficient or excessive work procedures in teams, decisions being questioned or second guessed, and a reduction in creativity and commitment. We also need to consider the costs of attracting, hiring and onboarding replacement employees.
In our training sessions, we discuss the Trust Works model from The Ken Blanchard Companies as a vehicle for building and maintaining trust within your workplace. This model includes four essential elements. We call these the “A, B, C’s and D’s of Trust.”
First, it’s important to see if the leader has strong competency skills or is “Able” to be effective. This is measured by expertise – the skills, experience and knowledge to get the job done. Also, if leaders are able to get performance results and if they are achieving their goals consistently. Finally, do they have facilitation skills – or what we call problem-solving and decision-making abilities – to effectively make choices to move results forward?
“Believability,” or acting with integrity – the essence of a person is another element that is essential in any trustworthy relationship. When someone is believable, they exhibit honesty — admitting when they are wrong, keeping confidences, and making ethical decisions. They also have an established value system by which they work and live. As leaders, do they treat people equitably and ethically? It’s often said that a person’s perception is their reality. Employees need to feel there is a fair process in their workplace environment.
If a leader is truly to be effective in their role, they need to be “Connected” with the individuals on their team. Do they have people focus – where they enjoy working with their employees, respecting individual differences, and building personal rapport? How are their communication skills? Are they receptive to feedback? Do they listen well and utilize input from others? Finally, how well do they recognize their employees? Are they intentional about praising the contributions of their team members and celebrating the successes of their employees?
The last element of a trusting relationship between a leader and their employee is the ability to be “Dependable” and maintain reliability. A leader can do this by consistently following through on their commitments, holding themselves and others accountable, and organizing effective systems in place to implement work processes.
The greatest gift that leaders can give to our employees is the gift of our time. By being intentional in our communication and working toward these four elements of trust: Able, Believable, Connected and Dependable, we will build a foundation that is strong and lasting.