5 Simple Ways To Build Clout – By Gaining Employee Trust

August 18, 2016

employee trust

Do you have clout at work? Clout is the ability to influence others, and in leadership positions, this translates into motivating them to accomplish what they need to do.  Why do some managers  in organizations have clout, while others do not? The answer often boils down to the level of employee trust in managers and their abilities to effectively orchestrate results.

Practice the concept of “No Surprises” 

A wife once said to her husband, “If you’re going to surprise me, put it in a small jewelry box.” Meaning, most surprises are negative.

The same principle holds true at work. Surprises are seldom positive. For example:

  • An employee doesn’t solve a customer’s problem, and the customer files a formal complaint.
  • Senior management changes a policy/procedure but doesn’t inform your department.
  • You believed you’d be receiving a promotion, only to learn someone else did.

The more you eliminate negative surprises from relationships with your supervisor and employees, the stronger the bonds of trust. Eliminate negative surprises through clear and frequent communication.

Have their backs

Trust in the workplace happens when everyone feels they are free to try new ideas, encouraged to accept new and challenging projects, and, at the professional development level, are working to push themselves forward. This also means mistakes will happen. Great leaders encourage and support people to try new ideas, regardless. Innovation is what drives the entire organization forward, but only if people are able to practice it.

As a leader, you need to give employees the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. You want people who are willing to take risks in the hopes of creating new products, services, and ideas that will ultimately improve the condition of your team or organization.

When people are consistently sharing ideas, project updates, successes, and failures, they learn to accept feedback, continue learning, and take action.

Shoot straight with new hires 

Organizations need to be very careful about what they promise people during the hiring process. Many organizations and excited HR managers try to paint the rosiest picture possible of the opportunities available. When new employees arrive, they are quickly disillusioned and feel subjected to a bait-and-switch. When hiring new people, be truthful. Tell them the good, the bad, and the ugly. Tell them what challenges they might face, and ensure they make a well-informed decision to come to work for your organization.

Shoot straight. The reputation of your organization will attract new employees. The reality of your organization’s culture is what will retain new employees. Don’t exaggerate benefits or dangle possible benefits that are years in the future, or you will see employee trust erode.

Make their priorities YOUR priorities 

We watched an accounting firm with very talented and highly motivated people suddenly experience a decrease in morale. Some of the accountants were working on some very specialized clients’ issues, which required certain processes and forms. The problem was that the administrative assistant who had electronic access to these forms left, and no one knew how or where to get them.

Repeated requests to the manager went largely ignored because it simply wasn’t his priority. He had no idea how the forms were used or why they were important. The team was stuck. Weeks went by and the employees became frustrated and angry because they felt ignored.

Your employees’ priorities must be your priorities.

If you want to be trusted, employees have to believe what they feel is equally important to you.

Structure work for individual and team success

Leaders need to know their people and know what tools they need in order to be successful at work. Sometimes this means more telecommuting, flexible hours, alternative work sites, and using technology to connect instead of a time clock.

This means understanding what is important to them, knowing what motivates them, and treating people as individuals instead of as commodities. To build mutual trust, focus on holding people accountable for results rather than face time or hours worked.

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Do your employees trust you to have their backs? Learn what it takes to build clout with both your staff and your organization with AMA's management training resources.

About The Author

Executive leadership development and corporate training coaches, Peter B. Stark and Mary C. Kelly , Commander, US Navy (ret.) are co-authors of the new book, WHY LEADERS FAIL: And the 7 Prescriptions for Success. Stark is the President of Peter Barron Stark Companies. Kelly is the President of Productive Leaders.


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