Bosses rarely apologize, inspire less trust

How truthful and trustworthy is the boss?

According to a survey from the Forum Corp., 89 percent of managers say they either always or often apologize for their mistakes at work.

That sentiment, however, doesn’t at all jibe with the scant 19 percent of employees who say their bosses always or often says they're sorry, according to Forum’s Leadership Pulse Survey.

The survey, Forum said, illustrates an inherent disconnect between how company leaders handle mistakes at work and employee trust and workplace engagement.  

So, what else did the survey coax out of its respondents?

  • Forty-three percent of employees say that their managers rarely or ever apologize.
  • Seventy-eight percent of managers say they refrain from asking for forgiveness for fear of appearing incompetent, while 22 percent are afraid of looking weak. 
  • Ninety-six percent of employees say it's extremely important for employees to have a manager they can trust.
  • Fifty-six percent of managers say it's extremely important for employees to trust their managers.
  • Only 8 percent of employees said they trust their leaders "to a great extent" today.

According to the survey, the most egregious examples of bad boss behavior include, in order:

  • Lying;
  • taking credit for others' ideas or blaming employees unfairly;
  • gossiping;
  • poor communication;
  • lack of clarity.

"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. in Boston. "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."

Forum conducted its survey in September, receiving 954 responses.

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