7 September 2021

It’s a trust thing

How much do your employees believe in your leaders?

In a world of constant uncertainty, trust in those at the top has become critical – employees need to feel confident in their leaders’ ability to steer the ship. But how do you build that trust?

For most people, the idea of not being trusted to do a good job is pretty uncomfortable. But in 2020, only 28% of UK employees said they had confidence in the leadership of their company to successfully manage emerging challenges. And that lack of trust can have a huge impact on your business. According to Gallup, trust in leaders is the highest-ranked link to employee engagement at an incredible 77%.

Here are our Strategy team recommended 6 techniques to make it happen.  


Build quickly

Building trust generally takes time, particularly if you’re coming from a low base. But it’s possible to speed things along. Set out a quick, realistic and simple strategy, then start delivering on it incrementally. And be honest: If something needs to change, then let people know as soon as possible and tell them why.

Build your purpose
If, like most businesses, you’ve had a rocky path through Covid, it might be time to review, refresh and reset your Purpose. According to Deloitte, companies with a purpose achieve higher workforce satisfaction, so do your homework and make sure it resonates with your people – get in touch if you need some support. Use this Purpose as your North Star, to guide all decision-making. If people buy into the ‘why’ and can see the progress, they will be more willing to understand, trust and accept leaders’ decisions.

Build your message
As your business grows, it’s easy for messages to get complicated. Keep things simple and regularly reinforce your goals and achievements. Consistency is key: tell people, remind them and prove what you’re saying with evidence.

Build congruence
It may not excite your leaders to hear, but consistency really is key.  People need to spot the link between what leaders say and what they do. When there’s lack of congruence, it erodes trust. Training can help get leaders on board.

Build a connection
The world of business is fast-paced. But emotionally, it can take people longer to catch up, so when something big is going on, leaders need to make time to listen. At ODEON in Spain, when cinemas reopened after lockdown the MD spent weeks visiting every single cinema, reconnecting with his people. The closer you can get to your employees, the better.

Build capacity for the unknown
Embracing uncertainty is a big challenge for leaders. For many, being a “good leader” means always having the answers. But in a world full of change, that’s impossible. And building people’s tolerance to uncertainty can actually reduce anxiety. Leaders need to role-model openness, show comfort with the unknown, and demonstrate that they can be trusted to respond to the here and now.

Ready to build?
From quick fixes to longer-term plans and training, we’ve got lots of strategies up our sleeves to help build confidence in leaders. Get in touch at hello@mccannsynergy to discuss.

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