How gaining your employees' trust can help your business grow

06 October 2016 -


Middle managers hold the key to building trust and boosting performance

Matt Scott

Little more than a third (36%) of Britain’s middle managers trust their business leader to a great extent, according to the latest research from CMI, despite trust being an integral part of a high-performing business.

Some 85% of middle managers and 88% of senior leaders believe trust is critical to organisational performance, yet many businesses are failing to build the trust needed to be a success.

CMI’s survey of 1,400 of its members found that high-trust managers tend to be in growing organisations, with 68% of managers in fast-growing organisations having high levels of trust.

Conversely, those managers who trust their organisation the least tend to be in declining organisations – only 15% of such companies have high trust levels within their ranks.

Middle management holds the key

The survey also found that 80% of middle managers believe they are very important in building a trusting workplace culture, yet only 31% say they are actually being made to feel very important in this regard.

Worryingly, a mere 9% of middle managers are always asked for input or feedback on the information with which they are provided, and only 31% feel very confident reporting company information to those they manage.

But while this communication is failing, there is still a powerful desire for openness.

Nearly one-third (32%) of middle managers don’t think that they are given the opportunities by their senior leadership team to provide feedback and challenge the organisation’s approach, with a similar number (31%) not believing that their senior leadership team works closely with them to communicate their vision and business strategy.

Key to opening these communication channels and empowering middle managers is regular contact with senior leaders.

When comparing high-trust managers with their low-trust counterparts, 71% of high-trust managers see their business leader often or very often, compared to only 30% of low-trust managers.

The survey respondents highlighted five key areas they want their business leaders to demonstrate more often:

  • 63% want business leaders to reveal their thinking about important issues;
  • 54% want business leaders to admit their mistakes;
  • 51% want their business leaders to encourage people to raise issues;
  • 48% want to be inspired by their leaders about the ambition and strategy of the business; and
  • 46% want their leaders to act consistently with the company’s values.

Find out more about how you can empower middle management in your business

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