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Article -> Leadership Integrity Lends Way to Employee Trust

Date Added: August 2006

The importance of establishing a sense of trust between employees and leaders is not a concept foreign to successful organizations. The direct correlation between how strongly employees trust leaders and employees’ productivity is a relationship organizations cannot afford to overlook. 
 
A recent study has shown a solid link between organizations that operate with high levels of integrity and increased financial returns. In this study, an organization’s integrity is based on how employees assess leaders’ consistency, communication and other trust-determining behaviors.¹ Most employees do not have daily interactions with leaders, which makes establishing trust that much harder.
 
Employees’ perception of the leaders’ trustworthiness is based not on personal interactions; rather, based on secondary information transmitted via corporate announcements, email or other company-generated communications. It is in this respect that Human Resources must intervene to help effectively communicate leaders’ messages in a way that engage employees and generate feelings of trust.
 
Human Resources’ initial step in creating an effective trust-building strategy is establishing a well defined corporate strategy and value statement. The value statement defines the corporate culture. However, defining corporate values is not enough. Leaders must practice the behaviors supported in the corporate statement in order to portray a positive message to employees. Leaders who embody the corporate vision demonstrate to employees the importance of behaving with integrity. Leaders who behave with integrity will, in turn, gain the trust of their employees. 
 
There are five additional steps to ensure that the organization’s core values are consistently practiced by leaders.¹
  • Training employees on the behaviors that reflect the corporate values.
  • Ensuring leaders consistently behave in accordance with the core values.
  • Ensuring leaders effectively communicate in ways that reflect the core values.
  • Ensuring that employees feel their best interests are taken into consideration when decisions are made.
  • Assessing employee perceptions of leadership’s integrity.
Measuring employees’ perceptions of leadership and the organization’s core values is something that should, and can, be done regularly. Unique Business Solutions uses a Voice of the Employee process to accomplish this with clients. This is a personalized process that combines a 360-degree review, an employee satisfaction survey, and an employee engagement analysis. Asking, listening, and learning from employees can increase customer loyalty, resulting in maximized profitability.
 
Partnering with employees allows your organization to discover how people view leaderships’ behaviors, core values and strategy. Engaging employees and requesting their feedback creates employee engagement and helps establish strong feelings of integrity.
 
Identifying a successful strategy for building and maintaining a level of trust between employees and leaders is where HR can be most useful, yet leaders must execute the plan and practice the corporate values on a consistent basis in order for the vision to be effective.
 
 
¹Krell, Eric. “Do They Trust You?” HR Magazine. July 2006
 
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