We know there’s a problem somewhere if the workers are not happy and motivated to do their jobs. The trouble is that most Filipinos are shy, if not introverted about expressing their feelings. It has become difficult for many managers to discover the real problem. Is this an issue of trust? — Ms. Vietnam Rose.
I’m not exactly sure about your specific case. But maybe you’re right. Trust is an important issue in the workplace. For trust to be the oil in any work relationship, it must be mutual and reciprocated by everyone, between the boss and his subordinates and among work colleagues. If your workers don’t trust you as their manager, they won’t be able to confide in you, to the extent that you’ll not get the full cooperation you need.
Of course, as we often hear it, building mutual trust and its foundation can’t be done overnight. It requires a tedious, long-term process and a sincere commitment on the part of management, alongside with a considerable amount of investment of time, talent, and a little out-of-pocket treasure.
But first, you have to discover some of the danger signals that employee trust is wanting or waning. You don’t have to rely on the most common belief that Filipino workers are too shy or too timid to tell you what’s wrong. It may be cultural, but to find out the truth, you only have to read the workers’ body language and the situations they are in. In other words, you only have to look at the mirror to find out what’s wrong with your management style.
The things to look out for include the following:
One, when management doesn’t share important information. How can you expect your workers to help you in decision-making and problem-solving when they don’t know the issues and their contributing relative factors? Conversely, how can they share important information as well when you’re not receptive to sharing information?
Two, when management is not accessible in terms of communication. It’s not limited to having an open-door policy. Even if an executive office is literally and figuratively open to everyone, understand that some workers may be intimidated by the physical make-up of a manager’s room. Therefore, the best solution is to visit the work stations of people.
Three, when managers are regularly holed up at their work desks. This is related to number two above. Managers, no matter how busy they are, must be seen proactively walking and talking to people to offer help to people who are generally shy. That’s what Management by Walking Around is all about. For the Japanese, it’s called Gemba Walking.
Four, when management shows even the slightest form of favoritism. Avoid any situation that disrupts the framework of team work and cooperation. It’s tempting to favor some few hardworking and likeable people, but you if do just that, you create resentment between and among individuals.
Five, when management is often seen as indecisive on many issues. This happens when managers don’t have any authority to make simple decision or drag their feet in the hope that the issue will soon fade to oblivion. If not, some of them defer to higher authority for decisions they should be making. Correct this as soon as possible.
Six, when management appears overly strict on certain policies. Consistency is important, but sometimes, there will come a time when flexibility is necessary in certain exceptional circumstances where best judgment is appreciated. If it happens, ensure that your decision to make an exception should not become the general rule in the near future.
Seven, when management forgets to appreciate the good job performed by workers. Sometimes, managers do it because they are trying to avoid giving off the impression that they are buying the friendship of people. But it’s not always the case. To avoid that situation, be specific as to how you like an individual’s job so that it will not be questioned by others.
Eight, when management becomes gruff and disrespectful to people. It happens at times when there is work pressure and the situation requires emergency measures. If it happens, apologize right away to those who have been the victims of your outburst. And if possible, show appreciation for team effort.
Nine, when management avoids disciplining a problem employee. Sometimes, this happens when a manager thinks an issue will be resolved by the team rather than by management. Don’t assume. Ignoring a problem employee may not only fail to cure the issue but may actually make matters worse.
Last, when management fails to show appreciation for employee efforts. Devise creative ways to reward and recognize both individual and team milestones depending on the company’s capacity. When a merit increase and promotions are remotely possible, look for other ways to appreciate everyone’s efforts.
This list is not complete, but comprehensive enough for us to understand management blind spots. Therefore, managers must take cognizance of their careless actions that are sometimes taken for granted against the need for greater proactive two-way communication process with employees.
ELBONOMICS: Sometimes, being trusted is more important than being loved.