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Leadership trust - the glue that will make your employees stick around

Recruitment and retention is taking a disproportionate amount of bandwidth as organisations struggle to fill roles, and deal with the downstream impact of the pandemic, government lockdowns, and two years of closed borders.

The need for effective retention strategies that keep your current workforce engaged and sticking with you, has never been greater. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a secret ingredient like the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices, or Coke’s Merchandise 7X that could apply to your business that would guarantee retention? Turns out there is.

Global HR expert Josh Bersin says it all comes down to trust. But first, some context. Let’s take a step back and look at what’s going on in the world. Turns out that trust has taken a hammering in the past couple of years. According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2022, distrust is now society’s default emotion. Government and the media fuel a cycle of distrust, and here’s where business leaders need to sit up and take notice: of the institutions studied, businesses are once again the most trusted organisations.

This means that workforces are looking to their leaders as a source of trust. And how do workers judge trust? The same way all of us do, by watching and listening, and seeing if the walk matches the talk. It’s pretty simple.

The need for effective retention strategies that keep your current workforce engaged and sticking with you, has never been greater.

Bersin says that leadership trust is made up of three elements: competency, ethics, and listening. Let’s take a closer look:

Competencypeople don’t trust organisations that don’t perform well. If you’re failing to consistently meet expected levels of performance, that will erode trust in your brand and your leaders.

Ethicsactions betray intent. How you operate is just as important as what you deliver. Is the company fair? Employees will ask: is my pay fair relative to peers? Are decisions on who gets promoted fair?

Listeningemployees will ask; does this company or manager truly care about me? Can I speak up? Will the company do something about it if I do?

As leaders we play a very important role in the lives of our employees. Bersin challenges us to remember that: “What you say, how you operate, where you prioritise your time has to be done in a trusted way. Competence, ethics and listening have to take a priority in every conversation, decision, project and in every relationship that we have at work.”

He also reflects that if businesses don’t operate in a way that ensures they are trusted in the community, and the environment, not just among employees, that they’ll probably be an organisation that people don’t want to work for, or that will experience some difficulty in hiring.

It’s food for thought, and goes to show, that you can be stronger when you listen.


Date: 15th June 2022
Category: Leadership
Paul Ardin
Paul Ardin
Paul is AskYourTeam's New Zealand National Manager.
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