Article: Six ways to overcome mistrust in the workplace

Employee Relations

Six ways to overcome mistrust in the workplace

Sales and making profits may be most leaders' priority, but people managers should prioritise their employees over profits to achieve remarkable results on their bottom line.
Six ways to overcome mistrust in the workplace

Strong relationships and productive work culture are built on trust.  Losing the trust in your employee can affect more than just the relationship between them and the business. It can also have a damaging impact on the wider organisation, leading to toxic work culture. This negative atmosphere can reduce productivity and profit while increasing staff turnover. Not only will you struggle to keep your existing staff, but you’ll also find it hard to recruit quality candidates for your business. Hence, the question arises how can you regain trust?

To find the answers, People Matters, under its latest Big Question series, spoke to Bridget Wong, head of Human Resources, Accenture SG, and Renee Kida, global head of People & Culture at GoTo Financial, SG, in an exclusive LinkedIn Live session. They outlined six factors crucial to overcoming mistrust in the workplace. 

1. Trust your co-workers like your loved ones

To agree on a solution or reach a compromise, trust will always be the key factor. Likewise, leaders' ability to motivate employees is built entirely on confidence they have in each other, said Renee Kida, Global Head of People & Culture at GoTo Financial.  

“When you think about trust, you think about people who are honest, reliable, and consistent with you. Similarly, structure the work culture in a way that people can experience honesty and transparency about the work expectations. This will allow everyone to be committed to reaching their peak potential. Towards the end, employees’ trust in superiors greatly influences their perception of the company,” said Renee. 

2. Be consistent with principles 

A workplace with consistent policies, procedures, and practices has many benefits. On the other hand, the lack of it can jeopardise business success, further exposing the company to potential liability for employee complaints about unfair treatment. Not only this but selectively applying policies increase the risk of substantial turnover. “The key is to have principles and be consistent with them. This will allow you to bridge the gap between the demand and supply,” suggested Renee.

Bridget Wong, head of Human Resources, Accenture SG, emphasised on having the right intention behind everything you do for the employees. “If as an HR individual you want to flourish and most importantly support your employee, it’s important to have the right intention. Focus on creating a structure that is designed to enhance resilience, sustainability, and an operation that doesn’t stifle any employee,” she said. 

3. Prioritise people over revenue 

Yes, money has a lot of power and it drives business. But, one can’t ignore the fact that organisations are brought to life by their people. As an HR professional, your priority should be to breathe energy into relationships and bring out the best in people to help you, your employees, and your business thrive. 

“While sales and making profits can be at the forefront of most leaders’ minds, as people managers, putting employees over profit should be your priority for a remarkable impact on your bottom line. If staff are motivated and driven, their output will be far higher than those who feel undervalued. Remember, your staff work to achieve profit in the first place,” explained Bridget Wong. 

4. Avoid taking sides 

Working for an employer you respect and trust is essential for your health, happiness, and success in the office. However, due to the trust deficit between leaders and upper management, feeling sandwiched between the two is quite common. Global Head of People & Culture at GoTo Financial advised staying even-headed. 

“In such cases, often managers take one side, but the reality is you can’t pick between the two. A part of leading is about knowing what upper management wants and what are the requirements of your team. This is crucial for aligning your goals and communicating what your team is achieving. If you’re not effective at that, your team is going to suffer. Therefore, as a manager you not only need to manage up and down but also side,” said Renee Kida. 

5. Be compassionate and empathetic

Being compassionate and empathetic has long been a soft skill that’s been overlooked. But with changing times, HRs must focus on transforming into leaders capable of understanding the needs of others and being aware of their feelings and thoughts. After all, to work well with people from varying teams, departments, countries, cultures, and backgrounds, leaders must be more ‘person-focused.’

“Building trust always starts with compassion, empathy, and competency. It’s important to recognise that as a leader, you may not have all the answers, but never forget to be compassionate and empathetic. Also, try to have the mindfulness to listen to your employees. This will allow you to understand what their challenges are and how you can help them, even if you don’t have all the solutions. It’s really about how you direct the efforts to make sure that your employees are fully supported,” said the head of Human Resources, Accenture SG. 

6. Autonomy and accountability go hand in hand 

A manager or supervisor constantly looking over your shoulder is not only frustrating but also damages leadership trust in the workplace. This may keep companies from having motivated, inspired, and productive people. To avoid such situations, believe in your employees’ purpose, and give them the freedom they need to experiment and work creatively to move things forward. 

“Autonomy and accountability are not different but are linked to each other. As a manager, you need not focus on micromanagement, such as ‘are you sitting in your seat or are you logged into your computer.’ Just concentrate on knowing if the projects are achieved to a certain level of quality, with a certain level of stakeholder management. As long as your employees achieve that, as a leader, you can enjoy a less hierarchical approach,” explained Renee Kida.  

To learn more from leaders about some of the burning questions, stay tuned to People Matters' latest Big Question series on LinkedIn.

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Topics: Employee Relations, #BigQuestions

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