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Employers Don't Trust Employees

Oh, employers are just so quick to preach about why employees should trust them! They even organise these amazing training sessions on developing trust. But you know what's funny? Maybe this whole trust thing should start with them! Because let's face it, they don't exactly have the best track record of trusting their employees, do they?


They have repeatedly shown a lack of trust and employees know this. Let's face it, employers don't trust employees and vice versa. There are a lot of problems with the trust narrative read here - and here - and here. 

We don't actually understand trust at work, we don't give it and we don't get it. 

So here are some examples of employers that show a lack of trust in their employees along the employee journey. 


ATTRACT - They don't create Employee Generated Content for social media to attract talent. They use polished inauthentic content put out by the marketing team. If they trusted them, they would allow employees to create content and use that. 


HIRE - They don't trust that people can handle the reality of the vacant role and they lie about it. They present candidates with false information making things look better than they are. We don't even trust our recruiters and hiring managers in conducting interviews well because if we trusted them we would get rid of reference checks. 


ONBOARD - They chain you to the training room for mandatory induction day instead of trusting us to be able to independently learn and just test our knowledge. Can we please stop the nonsense induction day misery? Here is how. 


MOTIVATE - They don't trust people's ability to tell us what motivates or engages them so we design interventions for them. Nobody during my 19 years in corporate asked me what motivates or engages me. Nobody! HR and my managers just applied their interventions on me (and others) and never even asked how I felt about them. Here is how Emma from HR; I hate everything you do. Your employee of the month event, building a Christmas tree from plastic bottles, paper certificates presented as recognition, organised fun, employee engagement surveys & initiatives, and your stupid staged video shootings. But you never asked me so you don't know. Is it because you don't care about my opinion or is it because you don't trust that I can tell you what would work for me? 


PERFORM - They lie to people or just don't tell them the truth about their performance. They sugarcoat and dilute information to a degree that people don't get the message. They don't trust that they will understand that they are bad. Instead of having fair conversations around performance here is what we do; we promote you to a role where we know that you are going to fail and you either leave or we fire you. I have seen it many times. Or we promote you when you are not ready because you are cheaper than hiring a competent person so we save money on payroll. And when you ask about your salary increase we give you around 10-15%. That will keep you sweet but you don't know that you could earn an extra 50%. We don't trust that you can handle the truth so we lie. Yes, we do that so be very suspicious about promotions. 

One more important aspect to performance and trust. We don't display employee engagement or management quality information to the public. Why? Why don't every company have a dashboard at their entrance where it displays the current employee survey score in each department and feedback about the respective managers? I think employees and candidates have the right to this information. Employers are quick to check up on our social media content but new employees really don't know what they are getting themselves into when joining a company. Display your performance indicators related to people, management, and leadership!


DEVELOP - They don't trust that people can decide their career path, or manage their development so we create everything for them. We design your career journey. Emma, I don't want you to design anything for me. I want you to tell me the expected performance and provide resources for my development. I can take it from there thank you! I don't want HR or anyone to tell me "You should be this or that." I know what I should be or want to be. Don't treat me like a child who needs to be told what's good for me. Trust me enough that I can figure it out by using the resources you are providing. 


DEPART - Why don't we conduct exit interviews online and direct people to Glassdoor or to our internal platforms that display the feedback of employees upon leaving the organisation? Why do we start treating people as criminals and traitors the moment they resign? We stop sharing information with them even if they are related to their jobs and we tell them - it's a threat really - to be wise about what they share on social media. 


The lack of trust in employees is evident in how employers handle critical decisions (like redundancies, firing, or restructuring) and even in sharing information they claim to care about, such as leadership feedback and people-related KPIs. Instead of addressing these issues directly, employers often sweep them under the rug, only to be surprised when they surface and erode employees' trust. We then go ahead and arrange "Cultivating trust" workshops.


Trust is in your daily action my lovelies. People don't need training on how to trust; it's a natural instinct, like love or fear. Focus on fixing the actions that cause employees to lose trust in you, rather than wasting time on workshops. Trust is in your daily actions, not in a seminar room. Breaking the trust issue can only be done by the leaders not by the employees. If leaders don't act in a way that employees can trust them the distrust between organisations and their workforce will have a long life! Long live the....... trust or distrust? You decide whether you motivate/engage or do the opposite.


Exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in April! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilt the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!:




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