How Your Managers Can Help Build Employee Trust in Senior Leaders

HowtoBuildTrustwithEmployeesEmployees are more likely to be engaged if they trust their senior leaders and have confidence that the organization will be successful in the future.

It may seem like employees’ opinions about leaders are out of managers’ hands. After all, managers can’t change how leaders act. But managers can use their actions and behaviors to influence their teams’ view of leadership. Sometimes trust in senior leaders is less about the person and more about the perception of them.


Download 35 Activities of Trusted Leaders here!


Consider these five tips to help managers build and strengthen trust between their teams and senior leaders to create an engaged workplace.


1. Clearly communicate the organization's vision, strategy, goals, and progress.


Employees seek clarity. They want to know why the organization is making certain decisions and how their work affects larger goals. The more doubt and uncertainty a manager can erase about the goals created by senior leadership, the more clearly employees will understand their role and how they fit in.

What the manager can do: Be the messenger. Don’t allow initiatives to just come from the top. Discuss organizational actions and goals and allow employees to ask questions or bring up concerns. Work with team members to create goals, strategy, and vision for employees and teams that align with those of the organization to clearly display how each employee’s work plays into the organization’s vision.


2. Explain how employee feedback has been used (and why, at times) it hasn't.


Employees want to know that their leaders care about and value their input. If their opinions and feedback go ignored and are not acted on, engagement often decreases.

What the manager can do: Connect the feedback loop. When leadership makes changes based on employee feedback, ensure that employees understand their input was heard and put to use. And if ideas aren’t enacted, explain why leadership chose not to address the feedback (e.g. budget restraints).


3. Recognize leaders.


Managers hear from leaders more than employees, and they are the conduit to influencing employee perceptions. When managers praise leaders’ actions, they create a culture of recognition that encourages top-down, peer-to-peer, and upward recognition.

What the manager can do: Set the tone by recognizing strong behaviors, including those of senior leaders.


4. Avoid the “us versus them” mentality.


The success of the organization is dependent on every person, including employees, managers, and leaders. Managers need to create a cohesive environment where employees feel that everyone is all in this together, which helps build trust with employees.

What the manager can do: Be mindful of the language they use when talking about senior leadership. Leaders are people too, even though their day-to-day job, responsibilities, and title differ.


5. Share upward feedback to leaders.


Managers play a crucial role as a messenger of critical information. They must communicate their needs upward if they need additional information or resources to be successful. Senior leaders may not be aware of these needs, and it’s the manager’s responsibility to communicate.

What the manager can do: Be an advocate for their team and ensure leadership knows what they need to succeed.



Following these tips will go a long way in building trust with employees. The more managers do to make senior leaders seem human and caring, the more engaged your employees will be. For more ideas on how to build trust with employees, check out our ebook, 35 Essential Activities of Trusted Leaders.

Build trust in leadership with these 35 activities!

Published February 2, 2019 | Written By Anne Maltese