How managers can build trust with their employees

Written on Apr 06, 2018

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

It's been said that employees don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. So as a manager, how can you make sure you’re not the sole reason employees are turning in their two-week notice?

“It’s about building a positive relationship by communicating with your people,” said Marty Guastella, senior vice president of human resources at Oswald Companies, “so that you head off the possibility of a person making a permanent change because they don’t feel a connection with their supervisor.”

Guastella said a key part of strengthening your manager/employee connection is ensuring your direct reports feel they have a voice and play a role in their future at the company. If you view your relationship with employees as strictly transactional, you could be missing out not just on quality talent, but future success for the business.

“The stronger your business relationship is with the people on your team, the more likely there will be success for everybody,” Guastella said. “That means for the individuals as well as your company.”

Of course, certain factors are out of your control. Maybe your employee is looking for an increase in compensation that isn’t possible or has a desire to switch industries. But if the only reason they’re unhappy at work is because of you, it’s your responsibility as a leader to address it.

“People don’t leave supervisors they trust as long as all the other dynamics are in check,” Guastella said.

And though it's true that sometimes certain personalities don’t mesh, the employee would probably mention a more specific reason to leave: they did not feel recognized for quality work, no one is showing interest in their professional development or they’re constantly being micromanaged. As their manager, you can address these issues before they become a problem by changing your behavior and actions.

But you would never know someone felt this way if you hadn’t been communicating with them on a regular basis. Guastella suggests you examine how you're leading your team. Being a leader means more than assigning tasks to your reports, and employees notice if you never offer feedback or neglect to check in on how things are going. He said managers should receive coaching or training to help them grow as leaders and recommended the book, "The Leadership Challenge."

If you and a member of your team can’t seem to get along, Guastella suggested asking to speak with the individual privately. Remember not to go into the discussion feeling defensive. It can be uncomfortable, but having an open, honest conversation with your employee is part of what will help you gain their trust and learn how to be a better leader.

“It’s about taking ownership of the situation and responsibility for your role,” Guastella said. “A lot of managers and leaders don’t want to do that, because they believe because they’re the boss they should automatically command your respect. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

Guastella suggested scheduling regular meetings with your employees to check in. And you should resist the urge to reschedule anytime if something else comes up. It’s important to show your employee that these check-ins matter to you. Building a strong relationship with your team isn’t rocket science, but it does require your care, communication and commitment as a leader.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” he said. “Supervisors need to demonstrate a sincere interest for the people that work with them on their team.”

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