Lack of Trust in Leadership is the Biggest Issue Impacting Performance  – How do you Fix the Problem?

Lack of Trust in Leadership is the Biggest Issue Impacting Performance  – How do you Fix the Problem?

Issues that impact employee performance are nothing new.  Knowing what causes these problems is the first step to resolving them. I’ve seen and experienced many of these reasons first hand. At one point or another in your career, you’ve also likely experienced something that impacted your performance.

45% of people say lack of trust in leadership is the biggest issue impacting their work performance!

As an organizational improvement and talent management practitioner – I was curious if what I had encountered in my work held true to a broader section of the workforce. That’s why Tolero Solutions conducted a survey.

45% of people said lack of trust in leadership. Though sadly not shocking – if you want your business to be successful – that’s not a number to be unaddressed.

“Me, I’m dishonest, and you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest. Honestly, it’s the honest ones you have to watch out for.” – Captain Jack Sparrow

So, how does lack of trust in leadership impact your employee’s performance?

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, both personal and professional, and when it’s broken, it is extremely hard to repair. When employees feel they can’t trust leadership they feel unsafe, like no one has their back, and then spend more energy on self preservation and job hunting than performing at their job.  Talent acquisition costs and employee turnover costs increase. (Which estimates put at  between 150% – 200% of the employee’s salary)

You may have heard that organizations with great cultures have increased performance. Lack of trust in leadership is a red flag that your business may have a “toxic” culture. No one likes to come to work every day and feel they are walking into a toxic waste dump. Employees will do the job requested of them, but without trust in leadership, they’re not likely to go above and beyond to help create a high performance organization. Your business can experience poor customer service satisfaction and declining repeat business and brand loyalty – which leads to declining profits.

Lack of trust reduces transparency and communication. Reduced transparency and communication leads to low innovation and lack of agility and responsiveness to changing conditions.When employees lack trust in leadership they often avoid communicating with them out of fear of retaliation – or simply because they feel that they can’t trust leadership to be transparent with them so why bother returning the favor. To achieve maximum employee performance, employees need to promptly and transparently communicate any potential problems or concerns to leadership. Without trust, this is not likely. Problems can go unaddressed and impact bottom line profits.

How can you increase employee trust in leadership to increase performance?

Take care of your people. Instead of spending time and money trying to repair broken trust,  take the time upfront to develop trusted relationships between leadership and employees. If leadership takes care of employees, your business performance only increases.

Recognition increases trust between leadership and employees. Leadership needs to recognize employees for a job well done. If you want your people to support business goals and support leadership in trying to achieve them, even in times of great demand or uncertainty, they need to know leadership is listening to them and values and appreciates their ideas and positions.

Increase leadership compassion. As a leader, compassion is imperative to gain trust and commitment. Without trust and commitment from those you lead or represent, good luck achieving your goals and becoming successful! If you want high performance, then respect, recognize, and appreciate your people. This will help build trust and increase performance.

To put it simply – listening is critical. To build trust, leadership must listen to employees. Its critical leadership learns to listen and seeks to understand. Don’t neglect to take action and follow up as appropriate. Some even suggest that with every office conversation, listen like there’s going to be a pop quiz at the end, and this skill can make or break your grade. Once employees feel leadership really listens, it goes a long way to increasing trust and performance.

A workforce that has high trust between leadership and employees is a more engaged and committed workforce; a more engaged and committed workforce is a higher performing workforce. The higher performing they are, the more innovation and revenue are likely to increase. For most businesses increased profit  is a top priority.

Profit, or on-going revenue growth, is a requirement for long-term sustainability. Increased profit is dependent on a multitude of factors. Many of these factors are related to your strategy and your people and their performance. Increasing profits requires being focused on the people – increasing trust and performance. If your organization’s executives and managers lead with an authentic, open and honest, compassionate and accountable style, you are more likely to inspire the best in your people and gain the support needed for success.

*Incidentally – 28% said lack of communication, and 30% said lack of resources.

About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm.  He helps clients in achieving success through people, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable. Organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business. 

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