Improving Employee Trust in Management

Improving Employee Trust in Management

Author: Janet Hoffmann

Last month, our Speaker Select Series was honored to have Bruce L. Katcher Ph.D. deliver a presentation on the “30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers”. As a follow up, here is an article with some additional insights on how employers can improve trust with their employees.


Sad but true, half of all employees don’t trust the management of their organization. Our surveys show that 52 percent of employees simply don’t believe the information they receive from senior management.

This is a problem for both employees and management.

How can employees possibly feel comfortable working for an organization when they don’t trust the information they receive from management?

Also, how can management effectively motivate their workforce when many simply don’t believe the information management tells them?

Three Characterisits of Distrust:

1.  Distrust is self-perpetuating.

When employees distrust management, management becomes less trusting of employees. Employees perceive this lack of trust and on it goes.

2.    Distrust is like a virus.

It gains strength as it spreads. As new employees join the organization, they learn from more seasoned co- workers that management cannot be trusted.

3.    Distrust is very resistant to change.

A senior manager of one of my unionized clients once lamented to me, “The only way we can stop this distrust is by moving our operation to a different part of the country and hiring all new employees.”


 1.   Start Trusting Employees

To end the cycle, management needs to show that it trusts employees. Eventually, employees will feel that they can reciprocate. This can be an extremely difficult and agonizingly long process. It’s like lowering your weapons when you are being continually fired upon.

2.    Don’t Withhold Information

Many senior managers communicate on a “need-to-know” basis. Information, such as future plans and financial results, is often withheld from employees for no good reason. Employees then feel that the information they eventually do receive has been intentionally sanitized or delayed.

3.    Be Honest at All Times

If employees feel they have been mislead or lied to, their trust will be lost, perhaps permanently.

4.    Conduct More Face-to-Face Communication

Employees find it very difficult to trust senior managers whom they never see. Management-by-walking- around is very important.

5.   Listen to Employees and Let them Know You’ve Heard Them

Employees become extremely distrustful when they feel their views or suggestions are not heard. Management needs to acknowledge employee suggestions by acting on them and letting employees know that they did so.

The above information presents interpretations of selected results from The Discovery Surveys, Inc. Normative Database™. The database is a compilation of results from Employee Opinion Surveys The Discovery Surveys Inc has conducted for more than 80 organizations representing the views of over 60,000 employees.

Bruce L. Katcher Ph.D is President of Discovery Surveys Inc. specialing in employee surveys and customer satisfactin surveys.  More articles can be found at

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