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6 Easy Ways To Break Trust With Your Employees

6 Easy Ways To Break Trust With Your Employees


By: Zachary Lee

What does trust look like to you? If you were to create an image for trust, what would it look like?

What does it mean to you? On your list of values and rules to live by in life is it number 1, number 2, number 10?

Regardless of how important trust is to you in your relationship with your employees (i.e., just get your work done), your employees ability to trust you as their leader is everything.

Lots of leaders will tell you that trust is important to them – trust from the standpoint that they want their employees to be able to trust them. It’s high on their values chain. However, when it comes down to it, actions speak louder than words and your actions might be the very thing that are causing your team internal turmoil, anxiety, attrition, and a high turnover rate (i.e., losing your best and brightest) and preventing them from going good to great.

Here are five questions you should ask yourself:

1.  Are you consistent? 

“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of acting over a long period of time.”    – Bruce Springsteen

I think “The Boss” got this one right. Whether you are engaging raving fans with your #1 hits or engaging your team on a daily basis, your consistency in who you are, what you stand for and what you want to accomplish will play a vital role in where you and your team end up.

If you often find that your team is frustrated with you or that you lose them time and time again, ask yourself just how consistent of a leader you are being.

What are your personal and professional goals; what purpose have you and your team created for the future; have you created a system to generate consistent outcomes and wins? These are all things that your team is craving and hoping you’ll do.

2. Are you predictable? 

There is nothing scarier for your employee when you don’t have predictable emotional responses. Having your team constantly on edge playing the guessing game of emotional roulette is unfair and gets in the way of everyone around you feeling safe.

If your team is wondering everyday “who” is going to be showing up for work today “you” have a problem. No one can really trust someone else if they don’t know who they are going to be from day-to-day and how they are going to react to different situations.

Think about it like this: If you started dating a person and every time you went out on a date they acted different you would not only be confused, but you would be worried they had your address. The question is, “Would you date you?” I hope so.

3. Are you transparent? 

Your team wants to know what’s going on in the workplace. Can your team depend on you to keep them up-to-date so they feel safe and secure in doing their jobs? Being transparent doesn’t mean that you have to share every single detail of what’s going on in the organization with your employees. However, it does mean that in today’s workforce there is an expectation that you are proactive in your approach to give your team a heads up when something is coming around the corner that will affect them.

I like to use a car analogy for leader transparency. If your employees are driving the car of your organization and only able to see forward with what’s coming in front of the them, it’s your job to provide their sideview mirrors to stay out of accidents, rearview mirror to learn from the past, and airbags in case of an emergency.

4. Are you honest? 

Can I take you at your word or do you like to speak out of both sides of your mouth? Integrity with the words you use and say can make or break your credibility not only with your team, but with many in your organization. If you find yourself constantly playing the pleasing game with everyone around you, but not giving honest feedback – step back for some self-awareness and reflection.

5. Are you positive? 

Positivity is contagious. I would take a positive attitude or skills everyday of the week. Why? Skills can be learned, but personality and demeanor are hard things to change.

In my very first professional job out of college I remember sitting down with my boss during my review and we went through the normal process. At the end of the review he told me that above all my skills that I brought into our office, my attitude was by far my best quality. He told me I was was rubbing off on the rest of the staff. In his own words, it was breeding great results.

Almost 10 years later it’s still one of my favorite professional compliments I’ve received and its also a quality with which I couldn’t agree more.

Positivity brings forth resourcefulness, and a can-do attitude within your team. If they believe that you believe in them – they will find the confidence and find the necessary resources to complete a job.

Plus, who wants to work for an ornery curmudgeon? Not me.

6. Are you loyal? 

Do you reward and support those who support you? Leaders who show very little loyalty to their teams are building a house of cards. One which will eventually crumble out from under what they have built. Honoring your best employees with words of affirmation, promotions, and appropriate salaries has a three-fold approach:

1. Rumor spreads very quickly throughout your team and organization that you are a great person to work for and that you reward those who do a good job.

2. Those you are honoring will be 10x’s more loyal to you and support you and the decisions you make when times get tough.

3. You will create new opportunities for yourself because of the reputation you have built as a leader and as a person within your industry.