Ever run into a situation where employees say that they trust a company’s leaders but not its compensation plans? Where an otherwise trustworthy and straight-shooting management team puts out a compensation plan in which employees claim to have no faith?
From Charlie’s first post in the series (bolded emphasis mine):
Companies don’t understand trust. … companies rarely distinguish between something as basic as trusting and being trusted. Therefore, if they score low on trust surveys, they can’t tell whether the solution lies in being more trustworthy, or in being more trusting.
By default, most of them implicitly assume the issue is trustworthiness. This means they completely pass up opportunities to create trust by trusting their stakeholder constituencies, or by valuing the propensity to trust within the organization. Worse, they may even harm trustworthiness by assuming that it requires greater internal controls, thus limiting employees’ ability to be trusting.”
Lack of an up-front commitment
And so I wonder: how often the choice of employees to withhold trust is not a response to the perceived characters of leaders, but rather to their practices and actions? I have also observed that these “trust-less” compensation plans, more often than not, involve a bonus or incentive award determined entirely by management discretion and a plan that nobody is willing to put in writing.
Are these managers, by their unwillingness to make an upfront commitment to or document the manner by which awards will be determined, communicating a lack of trust in their employees … and are employees simply responding in kind?
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Trust, as Charlie often says, is personal and reciprocal. How does this square up with our compensation plans and practices?