Trust and Respect – Between Manager and Employee

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I have been in the management level for over 10 years now and one thing I learn over the years when it comes to getting things done is the importance of “Trust and Respect”. From my experience the trust and respect of manager place over the employees are more important than the other way round.

The old way of managing employees whereby employees must “kau tau” to managers is a thing of the past. This was true several decades ago when employees must show their loyalty to the companies they work for by following the orders of management. Nowadays, most resumes of job seekers are 2 pages long because on average they change jobs within 2 years.

In the new ways of working, there are more and more employees working remotely. Getting things done do not involve face to face meeting – everything is done through Zoom or other forms of teleconferencing. The question is how do you get the work done when you are not looking over the shoulders of the employees. Building trust and respecting each other are the answers.

One of the most difficult things to do when it comes to managing employees is building trust but it takes time. To start you need to hire the right person and the person has to be dependable. The same person will also need to be able to get work done with limited management. However, the ability of the employees could be stunted if management does not trust the employees and continue to micro-managing the work.

On the other hand the employees also need to demonstrate that they are dependable and be able to work with minimal supervision. The best way for the employee to achieve this is by taking ownership of the project or task assigned and complete it within budget or timeline. And needless to say that this takes time depending on the size of the organization. Employees in small companies or departments can achieve this within relatively short time. On the other hand, large companies do require more time.

In my previous job I had to manage a small team to redesign the reporting tool for the department. I was given the task as I inherited the reporting task for the Internal Audit function. Prior to that most work was done in Excel and it is usually prone to errors. The reporting tool I created was so well received that I expanded the reporting function. As the tool grew, the reporting tool became bloated. Having put a team together, I assigned tasks to different members of the team. As I delegated the tasks I learned to trust the work that was completed by each member. And in turn, the team members learn to trust me.

Once you build the trust, there should also be respect involved. Trust can only go so far if there is no respect for one another. The respect I am referring to is that everyone is different and there should be an understanding that each and everyone work differently. Additionally everyone has different circumstances why they work. Some may work to support a family while some may work for a very different reason.

I recall several years ago when I started working in my current job the manager I worked for tend to have a short temper. I’ve known him for a number of years but never work with him. As I get to know him more I realized that he is a very difficult person to work for. Not only he has short temper, I found out that he was sexist as well. My current subordinate used to work for him. She has a family and has different priorities than this manager. The manager always questioned the ability of this subordinate and verbally abused her multiple times. Obviously the exchange became heated up to a point a complaint was filed with Human Resources by the subordinate.

After the manager was fired, I took on the role of supervising the subordinate. As I got to know her more, I realized that not only we had a lot in common she can do good work if given the opportunity. As I place more reliance on her I gave her full reign of her work and let her take ownership of her work. Today she is an important member of the team and has earned praise among others through her work. She has thought me that if given the opportunity, with trust and respect positive things can be achieved.

Working environment is very different today as compared to previous years. Employees have as much say as managers of their work and career. As managers we should trust employees to work and at the same time we need to earn their trust as well. While it is hard to believe both managers and and employees have equal footings within an organization. The only differences are that managers have more responsibilities and are usually get paid more.

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