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Horrible Bosses: 6 ways to build back employees’ trust

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,People Management

Most employees already know if they have a horrible boss. They don’t need the media to point it out.

But TV shows like “The Office” and movies like “Horrible Bosses” (released in early July) help to feed conversations—from the breakrooms to the bars to TV talk shows—about how mad as hell people are about their bosses and what they’ll do if they can’t take it anymore.

Nearly half (46%) of employees say they work or have worked for an “unreasonable manager,” according to an OfficeTeam survey of 441 people. Among those, most (59%) stayed in their jobs and either tried to address the situation or resolved to live with it (see box below).

“Often, individuals are promoted because they excel in a given job, but that doesn’t mean they have the skills to be effective leaders,” said Robert Hosking, OfficeTeam executive director.

It’s difficult—if not impossible—to be a good manager without employee trust. The problem: Many employees are predisposed to mistrust managers, often because of bad experiences with bosses at other jobs.

So here are six ways managers can work to earn back the trust from their employees:

1. Speak and act with consistency. Employees look for management inconsistencies. So do what you tell employees you will do. In­con­sis­tent words and actions create an impression of unpredictability.

2. Don’t live in your office. You may feel you’re too busy to communicate, but the resulting aloofness can breed suspicion and distrust. Silence from a manager typically leads to uncertainty. And uncertainty creates a void. Unless a manager fills that void with clear communication, employees will assume the worst. Negativity and rumors will fill in the gaps. Make communicating with employees a top priority each day. Talk to employees on their “turf.” It will help you become more approachable.

3. Share your vision. It’s not enough to just be optimistic. It’s better to give your team something to be opti­mistic about. Share with em­ployees your big-picture goals for them and the department. And constantly reiterate what it will take for both to be successful.

4. Involve employees in decision-making. Employees tend to trust managers who value input from subordinates. Create an environment in which employees feel free to voice their opinions. Listen patiently to employees and implement suggestions that increase efficiency and produc­tivity.

5. Acknowledge their lives outside the office. Managers who get to know the person—not just the employee—have an easier time gaining the respect and trust of their workers. Know their hobbies, names of their family members and favorite sports teams.

6. Criticize privately. Allow employees to make mistakes without being humiliated. Offer constructive criticism in one-on-one meetings, not in front of others. Otherwise, em­ployees may feel vulnerable to receiving criticism any time in any setting.

Finally, trust your employees. It encourages them to trust you in return.

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