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.

INFOGRAPHIC: 5 ways to bridge the trust gap in your organisation

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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