There are three words most workers would like to hear from their bosses, but rarely do: "I was wrong." Even though most bosses say they own up to workplace errors, the vast majority of their employees would disagree, new research shows.
A study by Forum Corp. revealed that while 89 percent of managers said they often, or always, apologize for their mistakes at work, only 19 percent of employees said their bosses are willing to say they're sorry.
The research found that managers who choose to ignore their workplace missteps are afraid of tarnishing their image. Nearly 80 percent of the bosses surveyed refrain from asking for forgiveness for fear of appearing incompetent, while 22 percent are afraid of looking weak.
Some of the other traits employees dislike in their bosses include lying, taking credit for others' ideas, blaming employees unfairly, gossiping, not communicating well and not providing enough clarity.
All of these behaviors are contributing to employees' lack of trust in their leaders. While both managers and employees report that trust in the workplace is crucial, research shows that this trust has eroded in recent years.
Nearly 40 percent of the employees surveyed said they trust managers less today than in past years. Overall, less than 10 percent of workers said they currently trust their leaders "to a great extent."
"When managers aren't transparent in their actions — and that includes accepting responsibility for errors, being truthful with their employees and acknowledging hard work — that tends to breed mistrust among employees," said Andrew Graham, CEO of Forum Corp. "The lack of employee engagement is a huge issue among U.S. workers, and our research found that employees who register low levels of trust at work are also the most likely group to report low engagement."
While trust in the workplace has suffered in recent years, there are certain actions that both employers and employees agree can bolster trust. According to the research, here are the four most effective tactics for gaining trust:
- Listen to employees, and understand their concerns.
- Walk the talk — managers should do as they say.
- Follow through on commitments.
- Encourage employees to offers ideas and suggestions.
The study was based on surveys of 711 company leaders and 237 employees from a range of industries, company sizes and countries, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
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