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Mentoring as a Manager

Trusting Strategies

Mentoring requires a climate of trust between managers and employees. Unfortunately, traditional management practices can sometimes generate a climate of fear or caution. As a manager, you need to facilitate change supporting the creation of a trusting environment.

The ascent to a climate of trust requires putting certain support structures in place. These supports include:

  • confidentiality,
  • honesty,
  • mutual respect, and
  • a learning environment.

To build a climate of trust, managers must first honor confidentiality. If a manager gossips or repeats things told to her in confidence, her employees and coworkers won’t trust her. When an employee confides in a manager, the manager must balance her responsibilities to both the employee and the organization.

For example, a manager approached in confidence by an employee requesting time off for a serious medical procedure, should agree with the employee on how to explain her absence to the worker’s teammates. The employee will appreciate the manager’s willingness to respect the confidential nature of their conversation, as well as her desire to work out a mutually agreeable means of communicating her need to be away.

Honesty forms the second important support leading to a climate of trust. Employees who find out, contrary to their manager’s assurances, that new staff members are hired at salaries equivalent to those who have given several years to the company, might become confrontational. If they question their manager’s assertions of parity and are met with anything less than the truth, they are likely to form decidedly unflattering opinions of him and of the management team as a whole.

The fact is, dishonest managers generally lose their employees’ respect. Their actions can destroy trust throughout the organization. Although there are some things managers can’t discuss with their employees — such as human resources decisions related to individuals — lying generates fear, anger, and distrust. It’s much better to explain an unpopular decision upfront than to try to avoid a confrontation by being dishonest.