Building Trust to Become a Better Manager

By Becky Regan

To be effective as a manager, your employees must trust and respect you. They need to believe that you’ll handle their work issues fairly and consistently, yet maintain their confidential information when they seek your help. Repeatedly, studies have shown that employee retention is directly correlated to the quality of the relationship between a manager and his/her employee. Employees frequently look for another job when this relationship doesn’t exist.

Years ago, I had a boss who believed that he should treat all three of his direct reports exactly the same in terms of salary. He believed that he was being “fair” by treating all of us the same. Yet we all had different areas of responsibility, work styles, and performance levels.

When I began working for him, I made significantly less money than my peers. I almost left that job out of sheer frustration over the lack of recognition for my efforts and the discrepancy in salaries. Instead, I decided to stay and see what would happen because I trusted my boss to “go the distance” for me. Though it took a longer than expected, he did come through with a title and 33 percent increase in base pay for me.

I’ll never forget how he told me about the big raise and VP title. He took me out to Biba’s restaurant for a fancy lunch and truly made the occasion a celebration to remember!

What kind of a manager are you? Do your employees believe in your ability as a manager? Can they depend on you for your support and fair treatment? Do you recognize their individual efforts and contributions?

Take a minute to consider what you need from your manager in order to succeed in your job? Make a list of your “top 10” requirements. Chances are, your list is very similar to the one your employees would create for you! You can use it as a self-evaluation of your managerial effectiveness to determine how you can improve as a manager in 2008.

How can you become a better manager? By caring enough to…

  • Build a professional yet warm relationship with each of your direct reports
  • Frequently ask them how their job is going and how you can help; be available when they need you
  • Commit to holding weekly staff meetings with everyone reporting on what they’re working on in a round table setting; don’t cancel or postpone scheduled meetings
  • Honor your commitments to employees; follow through!
  • Stand up for them as necessary to provide support, get salary increases, supplemental training, etc.
  • Do little things, like saying “hello” at the beginning of the day ; walk around & talk with your employees
  • Keep your door open; don’t sit in your office with your door closed unless in meetings
  • Find out what their individual interests are and use them creatively when recognizing each employee for exceptional performance
  • Hold your employees accountable for work you expect them to do and timelines to be met
  • Manage performance problems as they arise; manage poor performers out of the workplace
  • Hire smart
  • Ask them how they want to be treated or what outcome they expect from a conflict at work

Copyright 2008, Regan HR, Inc.

Becky Regan, M.A., CCP began her own consulting practice in 1995, Regan HR, Inc. to provide human resources consulting services to businesses in California. Her work as a consultant includes the full spectrum of HR technical expertise with an expertise in compensation studies. In addition to consulting with clients, in 2008 Becky expanded her practice to include online marketing of her custom HR products and established coaching programs for developing HR professionals. For more HR tips and to receive her FRE*E special report, visit