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Short length of employee service in retail sector leads to high levels of trust in management

New research published by the Institute of Leadership & Management and Management Today magazine reveals that employees in the retail sector have the highest levels of trust in their senior management teams compared with the rest of the UK workforce.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Short length of employee service in retail sector leads to high levels of trust in management

New research published by the Institute of Leadership & Management and Management Today magazine reveals that employees in the retail sector have the highest levels of trust in their senior management teams compared with the rest of the UK workforce.

The Institute of Leadership & Management and Management Today polled 5,673 people - 2,938 managers and 2,735 non-managers - for the Index of Leadership Trust. They came from the private, public and charity sectors, and their organisations ranged in size from SMEs to global corporations. The survey asked how much they trusted their line managers and their CEOs, presenting a snapshot of trust from within an organisation. In total over 250 retail employees responded to the survey.

Senior managers

in retail are among the most trusted, achieving an Index score of 67 for CEOs and 73 for Line Managers .

They aren't the only ones doing well in the trust stakes, however - those in the charity sector also score higher than average on the Index. At the other end of the scale, senior managers in national/local government did not fare so well, proving they are among the least trusted, with an index score of 56. Surprisingly, trust within the financial sector is high despite recent economic turmoil.

High levels of trust in retail bosses can be explained by the short length of employee service, in comparison to most other sectors. Only 31% of those surveyed had been in their company for over five years, compared with 60% in national/local government and 59% in health care.

The research revealed tha an employee's length of service has an impact on levels of trust. Generally trust in management erodes with an employee's length of service, with new employees awarding their CEOs a trust index score of 65, which falls to 57 after five years' employment.

For senior managers, length of tenure is also a vital component of trust. The longer CEOs and line managers have been in post the more trust employees have in them. Trust takes time to earn and the research indicates that this is unlikely to be achieved in less than five years. However employees in the retail sector have bucked this trend, probably because length of service is often too short to be affected by a high turnover in management.

The Index identifies and measures the six factors that are fundamental to trust - ability, understanding, fairness, openness, integrity and consistency - identifying a clear roadmap for individuals to build trust in themselves and their organisations.

The research reveals that the two most important factors for CEOs are ability and integrity. In contrast, though line managers are more trusted, employees expect a more diverse range of qualities and characteristics from them. As well as ability (top of the list) and integrity, line managers are required to demonstrate understanding, fairness and consistency.

ILM's Chief Executive, Penny de Valk, said: “Trust is crucial to the performance of an organisation, and a cornerstone of good leadership. Teams are more effective in a trusting environment, and people work better and harder if they trust their leaders.

“But for leaders, being good at their job is simply not enough anymore. They have to be aware of their 'signal value' and how this is perceived by employees as a sign of integrity. The more senior you are, the more the gap between what you say and what you do - or what you don't say or do - is amplified. In recessionary times, employees are anxious and this spotlight will be yet further intensified.”

Matthew Gwyther, editor of Management Today, said: “Trust in business and in politics has taken a severe battering this year. We wanted to find out just how much levels of trust been eroded within businesses. The Index scores, for CEOs particularly, are closely aligned to the length of time they have been in post. This is a conundrum for UK business culture which has seen the average tenure of a CEO shrink to under five years. Should this signal a return to longer-serving CEOs, or do our leaders just need to work that bit harder to demonstrate characteristics such as integrity during a short stint in charge?”

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