Leaders need to show their personal side more often if they wish to be seen as trustworthy, according to new research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the University of Bath.
The study found that leaders should be encouraged to reveal their personal side and take an interest in the experiences of their employees if they want to build and maintain relationships of trust.
HR has a crucial role to play in facilitating this more open style of management through recruitment and development, the CIPD claims.
It could do so by conducting values-based interviews, providing information on self-awareness, assessing staff using 360-degree feedback, creating environments where staff could have open conversations about trust and visibly rewarding trustworthy behaviours.
According to the report, entitled 'Cultivating trustworthy leaders', people are still uncertain about their future and now require a "greater and more overt demonstration of trustworthiness from leaders".
Claire McCartney, research adviser at the CIPD, said: "It's proven that organisations with high levels of trust perform better in terms of innovation, problem solving, engagement and knowledge sharing.
"Given the recent crises in trust in the banking and healthcare sectors in particular, it’s more important than ever that HR steps up to provide the appropriate platforms for trustworthy leaders to develop."
However, the report also warns that HR departments may already have in place many rules and policies that are not conducive to the formation of trusting relationships.
These could be perceived by employees as evidence of a lack of confidence in the workforce; they also give staff little opportunity to earn trust by demonstrating their reliability.
Professor Veronica Hope-Hailey, dean of the School of Management at the University of Bath, said HR processes and systems can sometimes prevent people from using their own judgement to appraise leaders' trustworthiness.
She added that while HR processes are generally good as measuring ability and predictability, they are less effective when it comes to "softer elements" such as benevolence and integrity. In contrast, these are better assessed by considering an individual's whole character.
Posted by Jon Aspinell on 28th April 2014
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