Finding and keeping good people is the number one problem AEC firms have today. And it will get worse if any of the predictions are true about the demand for talent and the lack of supply.
One of the ways to keep people employed with your organization through good times and bad is to build trust with them. Your people need to believe in you and trust that you are telling them the truth about what is happening in the business, what their individual and collective futures are, and much more. But the fact is, employees don’t always trust management. In some companies the situation is really bad. That impacts morale, client service, and productivity.
So how can you build trust with your people? Here are my thoughts:
- Get to know one another. No one is going to trust you if they don’t know you. And they won’t know you unless you spend time with them. It’s the people you spend time with who “matter,” so to speak. And since your time is limited you need to pick them carefully! Who you take to lunch, who you take to client meetings, and who you take on business trips that doesn’t actually have to go – this is what I’m talking about.
- Include them in the business planning process. You have to consider your employees’ needs and opinions as you develop your business plan. They are important! Show them you care about them and trust them to provide worthwhile input by asking them for it. And then when you get it, try to use their suggestions. And if you can’t use their suggestion(s), tell them why you can’t. Don’t just ignore the feedback loop and then think your people will trust you are listening. They won’t.
- Share the business plan with them. Whatever the final plan is – share it with your people. Trust them with this information on your goals and strategies. If you don’t want them to share it, tell them so. Doing this will help you build trust with them.
- Keep them informed about the financial condition of the business. Again, trust your people with the numbers. In a research study conducted by the National Center for Employee Ownership, companies that shared such information with their employees experienced a 1 to 2 percent annual increase in sales growth over what would normally have been expected. Not only that, their trust for management goes way up because management is showing trust in them.
- Don’t talk about other employees – past or present. Nothing will erode trust faster than for your employees to hear you talking about other employees behind their backs. Also, don’t vilify those who leave the company. It happens often. I have done it myself. But it makes the people who didn’t leave feel bad and wonder if they would be treated similarly.
It may seem “soft” to you, but believe me, working on trust between employees and management is smart business. How do you think your company would fare in this regard?
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.