How Managers Can Help Build Employee Trust in Senior Leaders

Employees are more likely to be engaged if they trust their senior leaders and have confidence that the organization will be successful in the future. It may seem like employees’ opinions about leaders are out of managers’ hands. After all, managers can’t change how leaders act. But managers can use their actions and behaviors to influence their teams’ view of leadership. Sometimes trust in senior leaders is less about the person and more about the perception of them.

Consider these five tips to help managers build and strengthen trust between their teams and senior leaders as you continue your efforts in building an engaged workplace.

Clearly communicate the organization’s vision, strategy, goals, and progress.

Employees seek clarity. They want to know why the organization is making certain decisions and how their work affects larger goals. The more doubt and uncertainty a manager can erase about the goals, strategy, and vision created by senior leadership, the more clearly employees will understand their role and how they fit in.

Where the manager fits in: Be the messenger. Don’t allow initiatives to just come from the top. Discuss organizational actions and goals and allow employees to ask questions or bring up concerns. Work with your team members to create goals that align with those of the organization in order to clearly display how each employee’s work plays into the organization’s vision.

Explain how employee feedback has been used (and why, at times, it hasn’t).

Employees want to know that their leaders care about and value their input. If their opinions and feedback go ignored or unacted on, engagement often decreases.

Where the manager fits in: Connect the feedback loop. When leadership makes changes based on employee feedback, ensure that employees understand their input was heard and put to use. And if ideas aren’t enacted, explain why leadership chose not to address the feedback (e.g., budget restraints).

Recognize leaders.

Managers may hear from leaders more than employees, and they are the conduit to influencing employee perceptions. When managers praise leaders’ actions, they create a culture of recognition that encourages top-down, peer-to-peer, and upward recognition.

Where the manager fits in: Set the tone by recognizing strong behaviors, including those of senior leaders.

Avoid the “us versus them” mentality.

The success of the organization is dependent on every person, including employees, managers, and leaders. Create a cohesive environment where employees feel that everyone is all in this together.

Where the manager fits in: Be mindful of the language you use when talking about senior leadership. Leaders are people too, even though their day-to-day job, responsibilities, and title differ.

Share upward feedback to your leaders.

Managers play a crucial role as a messenger of critical information. You must communicate your needs upward if you need additional information or resources to be successful. Senior leaders may not be aware of these needs, and it’s the manager’s responsibility to communicate.

Where the manager fits in: Be an advocate for your team and ensure leadership knows what you need to succeed.