Trust the boss? No chance

Nov 05 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

You work all hours to get the best out of your team and do you get any thanks? With a survey suggesting eight out of 10 British workers feel let down by their boss and a third don't trust them at all, the short answer is "no".

The poll of nearly 1,800 workers by the UK Investors in People organisation has found a widespread belief among workers that managers don't give them enough support, don't listen to their concerns and worries and don't tell them the whole truth.

Fewer than a third said they had complete trust in their manager, while almost eight out of 10 believed their manager had let them down in the past.

More than half also believed managers only put their interests first when it suited them.

Nearly half complained their manager had not provided the support they needed to do their job or had failed to respond to concerns that they had raised.

And a worryingly high 45 per cent said their manager had withheld information that affected them.

More than half felt managers were prepared to betray information passed on in confidence with another member of staff.

In fact, when it came to finding someone to confide in regarding a sensitive work-related matter, only a fifth said they would look to their boss.

More than half said they would turn instead to a colleague or contemporary in times of trouble.

This lack of trust in managers could potentially have serious consequences, warned Investors in People.

Nearly seven out of 10 said it harmed employee morale, just under half said it destroyed team spirit and four out of 10 said it resulted in people looking for a new job.

Simon Jones, acting chief executive at Investors in People in the UK, said: "Lack of trust in UK workplaces is a major concern.

"Trust is fundamental to building and maintaining effective relationships between managers and teams, and the bedrock of success," he added.

"However, as our research shows, less than a third of employees have complete trust in their manager.

"Lack of trust breeds suspicion which can undermine confidence, commitment and productivity in the workplace," he continued.

"Managers must take heed and redouble their efforts to build trust amongst their people, understanding their concerns, communicating more regularly and being more honest with employees.

"Employers must also take responsibility for equipping managers with the skills needed to build more trusting relations with their employees.

"Without this, management practices threaten rather than enhance employee commitment, wasting opportunities, investment and resources as they do so," he concluded.

The research also recommended what managers could do to build a trusting relationship with their employees.

Almost two in five employees believed bosses should engage in regular communication, while a third thought managers simply needed to be more honest and stick to their word.

The crisis of confidence was particularly acute among long-term employees, the survey found.

Just a quarter of those employed for 10 years or more trusted their manager completely, and six out of 10 felt their manager looked after their interests only when it suited them.

New employees (those in post for less than a year) were much more optimistic, coming in at 39 per cent and 46 per cent on the same questions respectively.

The larger the company, the less trust there was, the survey also found.

Slightly over a quarter of those in companies of 5,000 employees or more trusted their manager completely, against 39 per cent of employees working in much smaller companies (fewer than 10 employees).