Accountability and Trust

Accountability and Trust Walk Hand-in-Hand

I’ve heard the saying “people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers” repeated so often that I don’t know whom to credit, but it still rings true today. Employees lose patience with managers who micro-manage, who are dictatorial, and have unpredictable or moody behavior. Inevitably they seek employment elsewhere. In an earlier blog post, Why Businesses Should Focus on Accountability, I share research that documents the cost of turnover, morale, and employee engagement on businesses. But what about trust – or the lack of it?

Managers who dictate and micro-manage employees are sending the message, “I can’t trust you.” Managers who are unpredictable and moody send the message, “You can’t trust me.” I can’t help but wonder how often a betrayal of trust precipitated an employee’s decision to look elsewhere or disengage from their job, manager, or company.

Trust is the most significant predictor of individuals’ satisfaction within their organizations.

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge

Trust Busters

Managers who say one thing but do another, who selectively enforce policies, or who show favoritism give employees plenty of reasons to withhold trust, loyalty, and effort. Managers may not even be aware that they are engaging in trust eroding behaviors such as:

  • Spending more time in casual conversation with one employee over another
  • Holding one employee accountable for behavior that is tolerated from another
  • Seeking out the opinion of one employee over others
  • In meetings, listening closely to one employee, but losing interest when another speaks as demonstrated by multi-tasking, fidgeting, looking at your watch, etc.
  • Interrupting employees when they are speaking
  • Bestowing special assignments, projects, and opportunities on a select few

Trust Builders

Consider these suggestions for building or regaining trust:

  • Engage in a DISC Behavior Styles workshop – If a manager finds it difficult to connect with an employee, there is a good chance they have opposing behavior styles (e.g. introvert vs extrovert). I will discuss DISC behavior styles in my next blog post.
  • Increase self-awareness – Ask yourself if you engage in any of the Trust Buster behaviors listed above and take proactive steps to eliminate them.
  • Make a special effort to solicit opinions and feedback from less talkative team members.
  • Provide meeting agendas in advance, set time limits for topics and speakers so everyone has a turn to speak and no one monopolizes the meeting.
  • Point out specific talents, skills, accomplishments, and expertise of each team member so that everyone understands the value they bring to the team.

Managers, take time this week to review your accountability practices. Have you established clear expectations? What would make you more comfortable delegating to more team members? Are you holding everyone accountable for the same high quality standards? Spread the love, praise, and responsibility around! Stand for something. Set an example. Expect excellence.

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