I met my boyfriend at summer camp when we were seven. Our camp groups were playing soccer. He kicked the ball and it hit me in the chest, knocking the wind out of me. It’s safe to say our relationship started out rocky.
Since then, we attended each other’s birthday parties. When he misbehaved, my parents yelled at him like he was their own. True story. By the time we started dating, I already knew his sense of humor, his study habits, that he’d never miss a birthday party, and that he’d always text me that he got places safe so I didn’t worry. To this day, that predictability, reliability, unsaid agreement that we both have each other’s’ backs – that trust – still exists.
These qualities don’t just exist between couples; they exist in every healthy relationship – including the employee, employer relationship.
We’ve all worked for a company or a boss that doesn’t trust employees. My former employer wasn’t doing well financially, and blamed everyone but the leadership who was unwilling to innovate. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “but things have always been done this way” – one of the biggest red flags. I also heard, “we are reorganizing but not laying off staff.” Then half a department would disappear. Then, “we’re financially stable.” But, they’ll no longer cover certain reimbursements.
Quite a few times, I called my managers with ideas on how to improve. By them not trusting me and the rest of the staff, they lost out on the innovative ideas we all had come up with to increase sales and brand awareness. Because they refused to trust or listen, they lost the respect of trustworthy employees (who started looking for other jobs because they, too, noticed blazing red flags). And, they lost any chance of us trying to fight for them because why trust someone who doesn’t trust you? And, why waste your time if they won’t listen?
Soon after leaving this organization, I started working at Ultimate Software. I didn’t trust anyone. I was afraid to share my ideas because who would listen? Who would try to claim the idea as their own? Who would shut me down? It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was projecting insecurities from the other organization onto Ultimate – big mistake.
I soon learned what happens when companies do trust employees.
- Innovation – At Ultimate, we know managers will listen to ideas that may improve the organization, the product, the customer service, and the culture. The greatest part of working in this environment is everyone has the same opportunity to provide input and everyone credits the person who came up with each idea.
- Loyal “brand ambassadors” – When employees feel heard, that they are trusted to do their jobs and do them well, and that they can own their ideas, they will share positive work experiences with the world and their friends.
- Talent improvements – When people are happy and engaged with their jobs, they will want to work harder and smarter for the organization. This not only improves the current level of talent but future talent as well. We’ve all heard ‘top talent attracts top talent.’ It sounds cliché, but it’s true! When top performers tell their friends about their amazing company, friends will want to join your organization. I see this at Ultimate all the time and have even personally tried to recruit many of my friends.
- Financial stability – When organizations constantly innovate, have employees promoting the organization, products, customer service, and culture, and are constantly improving their biggest asset – their employees – they make money.
The difference is amazing.
So, if you’re reading this and have employees you don’t trust because they have acted untrustworthy more than a few times, replace them. Please do not take these feelings out on your team.
If you’re reading this and don’t know if your employees can handle the “we’re not doing financially well and are no longer covering reimbursements” (or a similar) conversation, I encourage you to be honest and then listen. Loyal and trustworthy employees may give you some great ideas on how to make money. The un-loyal employees will leave. Isn’t that what you’d want anyway? Replace them with someone willing to put in the hours to improve your organization’s situation.
If you’re reading this and debating whether to admit you’re laying off your staff, do them a favor and let them know they may want to start sending out resumes.
Finally, if you’re reading this and don’t currently trust your employees but don’t have a good reason why, put aside your ego and your insecurities (yes, I said it) and give them room to thrive.
Originally published on Performance I Create Blog.