Trust is a big deal in leadership. I know that is not a great revelation, or at least, shouldn’t be. If you have the trust of those who are in your care, they are more likely to execute on your directives. It goes deeper than that however. Management above you must also have the trust of their employees in order to create a culture of success.
I was still just beginning my career in leadership, when our management team called a meeting with all of their employees. Someone must have read a book that suggested that feedback from employees is essential to success. I happen to agree with this and was excited that we were going to hear from our agents and get to know what was on their minds.
The room was filled and our director stood up and introduced why we were all there. Management wanted to get good, honest feedback about the current state of operations. She assured everyone that this was an exercise in trust and that nothing that is said in this room will ever leave the room. It was a forum to be completely open and honest and say whatever was on your mind.
It was great! Or it should have been. The employees believed they could say anything and so they did. We as supervisors, oversaw notating the feedback throughout and we compiled a strong list of things that were on people’s minds. Some things were positive, others were much more negative in their feedback. All in all, we were able to collect some great data.
The meeting was dismissed and the management team, including the supervisors, were invited to stay to discuss the feedback. As soon as all the agents left the meeting room, and the doors were shut behind them, our leader spoke again. This time she let us know that even though she had said that nothing would leave the room and gained the agent’s trust to say what they wanted, she was not happy with a couple of individuals who spoke their minds and that we needed to follow up with them a put them on discipline.
This was an incredibly shocking and unfortunate turn of events. What had been promised as a place to say anything was just a rouse to find those who were outspoken and against the current managements ideas. Because they had spoken up, their jobs were now on the line, unless they fell in line. This was a huge violation of trust, not just for our agents, but also for our management team. From then on, when management asked for feedback, they received nothing. There would be no way anyone could risk opening their mouths, because it could end up costing them their jobs. The results were undeniably negative, and it took a change in directors before trust could start to begin again.