HR Information

Leaders ‘should build trust by showing their personal side’

Leaders need to reveal their personal side if they are to restore levels of trust among workforces.

This is the conclusion of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the University of Bath, which have produced a new report entitled 'Cultivating trustworthy leaders'. 

HR staff have a particularly significant role to play in this area, as they have a number of means at their disposal to ensure trustworthy leaders are recruited and developed. 

The research states that leaders need to share their personal stories and take an interest in the personal experiences of their employees if they wish to maintain long-lasting, trusting relationships.

People still experience high levels of uncertainty regarding their future and now require "a greater and more overt demonstration of trustworthiness from their leaders".

HR methods that could be used to help address the issue include conducting values-based interviews, providing information on self-awareness, assessing staff using 360-degree feedback, creating environments where staff could have open conversations about trust and visibly rewarding trustworthy behaviours.

However, the study also found that HR departments currently have too many rules and policies in place which could damage trust, as they suggest departments do not have confidence in employees.

Individuals have little incentive to earn trust in such environments, as there are few opportunities for them to demonstrate their reliability.

Claire McCartney, research adviser at the CIPD, said: "It's proven that organisations with high levels of trust perform better in terms of innovation, problem solving, engagement and knowledge sharing. 

"Given the recent crises in trust in the banking and healthcare sectors in particular, it's more important than ever that HR steps up to provide the appropriate platforms for trustworthy leaders to develop."

She added that HR departments need to allow leaders to flourish and should not focus too much on process and technology.

The CIPD and the University of Bath studied 13 organisations with experience of retaining and developing trustworthy leaders. Their findings build upon an earlier report entitled 'Where has all the trust gone?'