Advanced People Management

Mistrust of Managers Undermining Business

British business growth is being undermined by widespread mistrust of senior managers

This is according to The Middle Manager Lifeline report by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and leadership events specialist Top Banana.

A majority (85%) of business leaders and managers agreed that trust is critical to business performance. However, just one in three (36%) of the 1,456 middle managers surveyed for the report said they fully trust their senior leaders.

Only 37% of those polled agreed that their leadership team is transparent, and only 31% said they were ‘very confident’ in communicating company guidance and strategy to their teams.

Middle managers said that they want senior leaders to reveal their thinking on important issues (63%) but also to admit their mistakes (54%) and encourage people to raise issues (51%) with them.

The article then goes on to argue that this research represents a ‘communications breakdown’ which may have been influenced by the UK Brexit vote. People do not trust people in authority anymore. As a result UK growth is being undermined.

I remember reading a book once by, Francis Fukuyama in which he highlighted a very similar argument; the importance of trust in the development of corporations is vital because they will gain a competitive advantage and produce large amounts of wealth in corporations where trust exists.

Anyway that is enough of the theory, it makes common sense really, and an organisation in which the managers trust each other will excel and make loads of money. 

I have worked in many places and I can honestly say that I have very rarely seen real genuine trust amongst managers. I think it is down to personal competition in the workplace rather than distrust if you like, everyone wants to get ahead and the old adage ‘knowledge is power’ takes centre stage. You have to admit the higher an individual goes up the corporate ladder the more ambitious and sometimes distrustful of others that person becomes. So for me it stems from the top…top down mistrust rather than bottom up.

In our profession I have some suggestions about how a HR professional (after all we are sometimes supposed to be honest brokers) can come across as someone who is trust worthy. I cannot see why this cannot be carried over into other manager professions.

It is all a question of credibility. A credible person is an expert who is experienced, qualified, intelligent and skilled. You have to have personal qualities such as being honest, fair, unselfish and caring. You need charisma and you are an extrovert, calm and sociable with good people skills.


But your credibility has to be derived within certain, specific contexts. Remember you are only an expert in one or maybe two areas. In other areas you are as incompetent as the next person, so don’t overdo it.

If you want to increase your credibility amongst others try this:

  • Highlight your qualifications and experience
  • Show you care about your staff and genuinely show that you have their best interests at heart
  • Use their language, do the same as them , dress like them and whatever you do, do not set yourself apart from them (you will never be trusted)
  • Be assertive and quickly refute irrational counter arguments

Whatever you do, do not:

  • Use urm, umm, er, do not hesitate
  • Exaggerate too much, a little bit is ok
  • Use Sir or other words that indicate subordination

So there you have it, my take on how to reinvent yourself and become a trustworthy person at work. It is basically about how secure you feel at work and how competent you are at your job. It is the unsecure ones who do not trust anyone at work.

Your comments will be gratefully appreciated, even though you are all totally beneath me…haha!


Advanced People Management; a cost-effective method of advising, supporting and empowering people at work



This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of Advanced People Management as a whole. You should never take any action based solely on the information contained in the blog posts.