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Mistakes managers make – and how to fix them

A leader can make or break a team. In the workplace, good leadership revolves around trust.

A leader can make or break a team. In the workplace, good leadership revolves around trust. According to a recent Forum study, 91 percent of employees said that it’s highly important to have a boss they can trust – but 34 percent said that they trust their boss less now than in the past. In addition to developing better relationships with workers through employee reward and recognition programs, improving leadership behavior can invigorate your team.

Four bad behaviors that break trust 

  1. All talk and no action. Behavior speaks louder than words. It’s great to effectively communicate an organization’s values and goals, but if the leader doesn’t demonstrate them, the message loses its power. According to Frank Wander, founder and CEO of the IT Excellence Institute, company culture forms in the same way as societal culture: through behavior, observation, and relationships. “Workers learn the cultural rules through observation, by watching how those above them interact, what they reward and what they punish,” he wrote in CIO Insight. Employee reward programs can help identify and act on valued behavior, but leaders also need to demonstrate it in their own actions.
  2. Not engaged at the top. Bosses sometimes lose touch with their employees when they rise up in the ranks. The Forum survey emphasized the importance of listening to employees. Low-trust cultures are particularly impeded by communication barriers, because workers don’t feel comfortable giving an honest answer on surveys, Wander said. Instead, managers need to walk around the workplace, observe the conditions on the floor, and interact with employees. Their presence alone shows that they care about workers’ concerns and ideas.
  3. Inconsistency, lying and not following through. Employees want to know the rules of the game. Well-defined employee incentive programs help supervisors reward achievements in a consistent, fair manner. Wander extolled how necessary it is to follow through on initiatives at all levels of the company hierarchy. In other words, if forming an engaged workforce is important to bosses, they need to make sure their lower-level managers are implementing the same measures.
  4. Poor communication. According to Forbes magazine, the two most effective forms of communication in meetings are promises and requests. Supervisors must communicate clearly what they need from employees, and let workers know honestly what they can expect in return.

When managers express and embody the values and behavior they want to see in their workforce, they earn their employees’ trust and inspire similar actions. It’s no coincidence that the Forum survey found that the most engaged group of employees had the most trust in their bosses.

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