It May All Be a Matter of “Trust!”


In your quest for building a successful business while also increasing employee satisfaction there are many things to consider. Many leaders are so busy trying to get everything right they overlook the fact that employees are bailing and suppliers are pushing them away and sales are rising while they are also losing customers.

Leaders look at the numbers and KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) to assess how things are going while ignoring more intangible indicators such as employee satisfaction, supplier satisfaction, employee turnover, repeat customers, etc.

Many times the KPI does NOT show an accurate view of what is really happening. While an indicator may show growth, it may also be a horrible place to work for your employees, suppliers may dread talking to you and customers may in fact be very dissatisfied even though they continue to buy.  Let’s look at how trust effects employee satisfaction. The same ideas can be applied to supplier and customer relationships. This is by no means the only possible issue you can encounter, but one you should think about hard, as it can be detrimental to your organization.


Much of the dissatisfaction the employee has could come down to a feeling of a lack of “trust”. If employees feel trusted to make decisions knowing you will stand behind them, they will feel empowered and feel more ownership in their future. This turns into better productivity for them as well as more time to look at the big picture for you. If employees get transparent communication with management, even when the news is grim, they understand more about the challenges of the business and are more likely to stick around when the going gets tough instead of making movies in their mind about what they think might be happening and then leaving the company.

As the leader, if you find yourself micro-managing your people and finding fault in many of the decisions they make, YOU may have a trust issue. A couple of things could be happening here. You may be feeling, if the employee doesn’t make the same decision you would have made, the decision is somehow incorrect. You may also be avoiding your work, in exchange for theirs. Sounds strange, right?

This may in fact be your issue and not the employees. You can see this in action all the time in start-ups. A leader finds themself in a high-level position where they may have little to no prior experience, where one of two things can happen. They either dig in, figure it out, rely on their people and ask for advice when necessary to become successful – OR – they are so afraid of making a wrong decision they criticize other peoples decisions and feel they need to jump in and do it their way.

What’s really happening here is that they are uncomfortable making the big decisions they are faced with, so they focus on what they feel they can do. By taking over an employees job, they feel they have saved-the-day when in fact they lost focus on their own leadership position. It’s kind of like procrastination, when you confuse activity with progress.

If you find yourself doing this to your employees, there are a couple of things you can do to ease their pain as well as your own. The next time an employee makes a decision which is different than what you would have done, pull them aside and ask them what the reasoning was behind their decision. Resist the urge to tell them they should have done it differently and really listen to their reasons. If you still feel they should have done something differently, convey this by letting them know you understand why they made that decision and then ask a few open ended questions so they can figure it out on their own. They may have made the best decision possible with the information they had at the time. Try to understand the issue from their side and as the leader, your job is to help them when needed, provide the information they need to do their job and not take it over.

Remember this… You can’t make yourself look good by making others look bad – AND – they may just have a better idea than you had. Hearing them out will help you trust them more. Working together in a way where everyone looks good also builds strong teams. I always try to hire people who know more about that position than I do. That way I start out with a huge amount of trust in them. That trust breeds success and strong teams.

If you find you are micro-managing your team. Ask yourself why that might be. Be honest with yourself as it’s easy to blame the employee or justify your actions by telling everyone else how bad the employee is. As the leader, are you really focusing on what’s truly important or are you avoiding your hard decisions and work by trying to take over that of your employees?

The purpose of this blog post is to get you thinking about your leadership style and how you might become more effective by really trusting your employees, suppliers and customers. They are likely doing the best job they can with the information they have. That being the case, they may have more information than you do so ask more questions when you feel something isn’t on track.

Lead with the idea that “We either all succeed, or we all fail together as a team!”

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