A major Global Workforce study reported recently that 'confidence in leaders and managers is disturbingly low'. The implication was this decline is the consequence of the way leaders and managers have responded to the recession.
This may well be the case in some cases, but we have found that, in employee engagement surveys we have carried out in the UK during the past two years, there's not been a major change in the picture that has existed for some time. Namely that even when times are very hard, and people are at risk of losing their jobs, if leaders and managers remain visible and communicate actively with their people, confidence in them actually increases.
On the other hand, Employee Feedback Ltd consultants have found that in employee survey after employee survey, leaders with a low profile are seen to be remote and out of touch with employees. It's those leaders and managers who are most likely to preside over dis-engaged workforces and employees.
The remedy is very clear - confidence in leaders and managers is to a large extent the result of the efforts they make personally to stay in touch with employees. This applies at any time, but particularly when the organisation is facing serious challenges.
Maintaining regular contact with employees is the key, not job security.
Employee Feedback Ltd conducts many surveys of employee engagement and satisfaction in a wide variety of organisations in all sectors of the economy. In almost every case we find that employees are more engaged with the business when they feel they have some contact - however tenuous - with leaders and senior managers. Our employee engagement maps always highlight this relationship. Just as many employees are positive about their leaders now as there were before the recession. Confidence in leaders is much more about their relationship with the workforce than an economic downturn.
Measure the visibility of your leaders in regular employee surveys. There will be a direct and positive relationship between visibility and confidence in leadership.