Changing times lead to deepening mistrust

Mar 24 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Too much change, poor leadership and a lack of communication have been blamed for the breakdown of trust within UK organisations as yet another survey shows that employees mistrust both the top table and their immediate supervisors.

In a poll of almost six hundred (598) visitors to HR news and information website HR Gateway, eight out of ten said that they did not trust the top table in their organisation while two thirds said they did not trust their immediate supervisor.

With a mere one in seven saying that they actively trusted the directors in their organisation and only one in three trusting their immediate manager, some serious questions need to be asked about what is happening to sour relations between employees and their managers in UK organisations.

For the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), findings such as these are troubling. Many surveys reveal the same problems and it is all a result of poorly-implemented change, according to the CMI's Karen Charlesworth, a process which is 'not rocket science' to handle correctly:

"Most of the time it comes down to three things: communication, trust and praise. We all want to be kept in the picture as to what is happening, we all want to be trusted to do our job and we all want praise for what we do.

"High levels of change in firms are not being communicated down the line leading to a lack of trust. All levels of employee have immediate supervisors to which they can point the finger. It is not rocket science but still we do not appear to be learning,' she said.

A recent report from Roffey Park suggested that young managers themselves were losing trust in their organisational leaders, while findings from Liquid HR suggested that only three in ten people trusted their immediate manager.

One survey from Black Mountain recently even suggested, that for employees, the trustworthiness of managers in handing out bonus allocations was questionable. Half the people responding said they thought the process was 'purely subjective'.

The same survey also suggested that employees thought managers were more likely to commit petty crimes, pretend to work from home while really taking the day off, job hunt on work's time and exceed holiday allowance.

Chief executive of the Institute for Leadership and Management, Gary Ince, also feels that it comes down to a lack of communication in the change processes that many organizations - public or private - are finding themselves in:

"Mistrust is a sign of a lack of leadership at all levels and is indicative of major change. Marconi is a good example of this. It divested its traditional business only to have to realign itself shortly afterwards.

"Leaders need to ensure that any changes are communicated early and that staff know why the change is necessary. They also need to ensure that the message has spread and if anything goes wrong they need to ensure they are honest and communicate why it went wrong," he said.