Can You Trust Your Manager With Your Career?

Can You Trust Your Manager With Your Career?
Photo by Alex Shute / Unsplash

I was talking to an old manager of mine recently and we discussed how rarely we talked about our worries and concerns in the workplace with our managers. In particular, our male managers with regards to things such as health issues or concerns about our performance that we may have been dealing with. There were many reasons for this but the ultimate one was that we didn't trust our managers to deal with the information with integrity and confidentiality. We believed they would use it in some way to disadvantage us in the workplace.

What is concerning about this, for me, is that we were motivated, determined and successful people in our own right. So we started to expore the dilemma further. If we weren't talking to our managers, how hard was it for others, who were less sure of what they wanted, to have those types of conversations?

I wanted to test this thinking. In a recent poll I created on Linkedin , it was clear from the results that there was a scepticism about trusting your manager with worries and concerns.

Question: Who do you trust the most in the workplace to share your worries and concerns?

  • My Manager 12%
  • A colleague outside my team 48%
  • A team member 20%
  • My mentor/coach 20%

This isn't the most scientific test and there were 25 respondents but it's the sentiment it conveys. Staff struggle to open up to their managers about things that are important to them.

So what does it take to trust your manager? A person may trust another person for a variety of reasons. Some factors that can contribute to trust include:

  • Consistency in behavior and communication
  • Willingness to be open and transparent
  • Ability to follow through on commitments
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Reliability and dependability
  • Empathy and understanding
  • Shared values and experiences
  • Good communication and active listening
  • Positive past interactions and experiences It's important to note that trust is not always a one-time event, it has to be build over time and it can also be broken. It also can be broken in one event, in one day!

For a manager this is a long list of things to think about and as we are all humans, it is impossible to get this right all of the time. But if we are never having open and honest conversations with our teams, how do we ever build great relationships and enthuse co-operation for the benefit of the people in that team, the customer and the organisation?

In the workplace, what can managers do to help build that trust with their team? Here are a few ways to get started.

  1. Communicate effectively and transparently: Keep your staff informed about important decisions and changes within the company, and be open and honest with them about any challenges or issues that may arise. Do regular huddles, employ agile (scrum) style thinking.
  2. Lead by example: Demonstrate the behavior and work ethic you expect from your staff by being punctual, reliable, and professional in your own work. Say 'hello, good morning', ask how peoples weekend's have been. Highlight the work that they have done to others outside the team and don't claim ideas and work as your own if it's not. (I've seen it being done in meetings with senior leaders and it breeds discontent).
  3. Show interest in your staff: Take the time to get to know your staff on a personal level and show genuine interest in their well-being and development. If your company only stipulates an annual or bi-annual performance review you can ask what the team member needs beyond this.
  4. Be consistent and fair: Treat all staff members fairly and consistently, and avoid showing favoritism or making exceptions for certain individuals.
  5. Be accountable: Take responsibility for your actions and decisions, and be willing to admit when you have made a mistake.

By consistently implementing these strategies, you can build trust with your staff and create a positive work environment.

If you are struggling to trust your manager maybe suggesting ways to build that trust could be a help. However, if you really believe that the relationship will never be on a great footing then maybe it is time to think about an alternative role.

If you would like to discuss this as a leader or as a team member then please contact us by booking a exploratory call. Or if you need some support with changing roles then get in touch.

We will be talking more about leadership in April's lunch and learn on the Friday 21st at 1pm. Come and join us for this free event.

Joanne and Maggie