Career Bloom: Mrityunjay Kumar's "Trust in Manager-Employee Relationship"

This important article notes the critical importance of trust between managers and employees and its impact on performance. Undoubtedly, trust is a necessary component in all industries. But, can you think of some industries that trust may play an even more important role in organizational effectiveness?

Trust in Manager-Employee Relationship

In my previous post, "Do you Think Your Manager is Fair to You?" I proposed that trust is the most important part of the manager–employee relationship: it determines whether employees consider their manager to be fair or not. So the question is: How do you create trust in this relationship? It is pertinent for both manager and employee. Trust requires ongoing effort—both sides have to be cognizant of the need to keep maintaining trust.

In any healthy workplace, a results-based orientation and managing-for-results are the most important competencies since they help the business most directly. Hence, creating and maintaining trust must rely on continuous, on-time delivery and quality that meets the business requirements. This trust creates confidence and reliability, which are other important constituents of trust. Once someone begins delivering results consistently and reliably, trust is not far away.

Here are some steps employees can take to ensure trust is created and maintained (also see “How to Manage your Boss“):

    • Choose tasks that have the maximum chance of success: Be careful about the tasks you choose so you are able to deliver them on time and with quality. Make sure they are aligned with your skills and strengths.

    • Understand your manager: Some managers begin by assuming you are trustworthy and change their opinion when you do something wrong. Others begin by assuming you cannot be trusted until you continuously prove you can be. Understanding this will help you figure out what you need to do to be considered trustworthy. Also, some managers like to receive more information, some like less. So understand your manager and their personality.

    • Keep your manager informed: Managers do not like to learn about things from other channels when they want to hear it from you. It is always a good idea to keep them informed as much as you can. Of course, the amount of information you share depends on what your manager prefers.

    • Have regular one-on-one's: If your manager has not scheduled a one-on-one, schedule one yourself. If they do not agree, try hard to convince them about the usefulness of this exercise. Regular interaction keeps the communication channels flowing and gives you a ready-made forum to discuss any misunderstandings or issues that may have crept in during the intervening time, via projects that happen or do not happen.

Some of the steps managers can take:

    • Share information: Most of the time, managers are accused of hoarding information and not sharing enough. Many times, this is not truth, but perception. Either way, this perception can affect trust-building, because your employees need to know they have all the information they need to succeed at all times. Team meetings are the best way to share information. Email, wikis, and blogs can prove to be fruitful avenues to share information, however written material tends to be misinterpreted. Try to discuss the most important information during face-to-face team meetings, so you can ask and respond to questions.

    • Promote an open-door policy: This is probably the most overused cliché in management—everyone claims to have an open-door policy. However, an open-door policy has to be demonstrated, rather than told. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "What you are shouts so loud in my ears I cannot hear what you say." The best way to demonstrate an open-door policy is to reach out to talk, rather than wait for your employees to walk into your office. When they do walk in, drop whatever you are doing and give them your undivided attention. If you manage to create a real open-door policy, it will go a long way toward creating trust in your workplace.

    • Encourage and use one-to-ones: I cannot stress how important one-to-one's are for creating a great manager-employee relationship and trust. So be sure to set up your one-to-one's, with all of your reports, at regular intervals, and spend time talking about things other than regular project deadlines and status reports. Your time is best spent discussing questions, such as “Am I giving you all you need so you can be successful?” and “Do you feel happy about your work and career development?”

I hope these ideas will help you create a great relationship at your workplace.

—January 20, 2008

Last modified: Friday, April 26, 2019, 12:24 PM