http://management-issues.com 7 September 2005.
Fewer than four out of 10 employees trust their senior managers to always communicate honestly and less than half believe their management behaves in a way which is consistent with their company's value.
A survey of over 1,100 UK employees by Mercer Human Resource Consulting has revealed high levels of distrust in management, with only 36 per cent of staff willing to give their bosses the benefit of the doubt when it comes to telling the truth.
The findings are similar to a recent Mercer survey in the US where only 40 per cent of employees trust management to communicate honestly.
The survey also found that levels of trust decline with length of service. Almost six out of 10 (57 per cent) of employees with less than a year's service trust management to communicate honestly, but this figure declines sharply to just a quarter (26 per cent) of employees with 15 or more years' service.
Dr. Patrick Gilbert, Head of Organisational Research & Effectiveness at Mercer, said: "It is particularly worrying that long-serving employees - who know most about their organisations - trust management the least."
He added: "Employees tend to be especially distrustful of management in times of organisational change as they can feel less secure in their jobs and uncertain about their future in the organisation.
"But trust is crucial for change to be successful, otherwise staff will not believe the messages communicated by management."
In particular, the survey found, only half the employees surveyed (53 per cent) feel their organisation does a good job of keeping employees informed about matters that affect them.
The more accessible and visible managers are, the more likely employees are to trust them "Employees often suspect that far more goes on behind closed doors than managers let on. As well as questioning the information they receive from management, many employees worry they are not being told the whole story," said Dr Gilbert.
"The more accessible and visible managers are, the more likely employees are to trust them and have confidence in the organisation."
These communication issues are exacerbated because fewer than half the respondents (48 per cent) think there is sufficient contact between managers and employees in their organisation, while only six out of 10 think their manager does a good job of being available when needed.
"Many line managers get caught up with short-term operational goals and do not make enough time for their staff," Dr Gilbert added.
"What they may not realise is that regular meetings are an important part of effective people management, which is directly linked to employee engagement and ultimately affects company performance."
Meanwhile, although almost six out of 10 of employees feel their organisation has communicated its company values clearly, fewer than half (45 per cent) think management behaves in a way which is consistent with these values.
What's more, only a third feel that what their organisation says it values is consistent with what it actually rewards.
"A company's values provide a touchstone for guiding and evaluating behaviours, but these values only become meaningful if managers adopt them and lead by example," said Dr Gilbert.
"If these values are ignored by those at the top of the organisation, employees can become disaffected and cynical."