Hi everyone and welcome to my latest article about trust, or a lack of, in a step away from my usual mental health-based topics.

Today I’d like to share with you some insights that individuals and organisations can adapt as we move into this “new way” of living and working. Leaders, more than ever before are going to have to step up to plate shall we say, as employees look to them, to help keep them safe, healthy and secure on their return to work.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact in every sphere of our lives. People and organisations are expected to navigate through this uncertainty with very little support. One of the main effects of the Corona Virus is the level of distrust it has created in people, businesses and every layer of our society.

To make any attempt to return to work successful requires a high level of trust to be built, maintained and sustained or companies risk a backlash from staff. To not do so is bound to negatively impact in many ways such as putting people’s lives at risk, creating resentments towards senior management, which unilaterally will create low staff engagement, morale, and mood.

Let’s face it; we all can acknowledge that being a Leader in this “new way of working” is not going to be an easy task. More so now than ever before Leaders will have to be seen to be visible and must be seen to follow through with actions, not just words.

Why is this no easy task though, it may or may not surprise you to know?

Pre-COIVD-19 trust in the workplace had been highlighted as being at all-time lows, in 2017 according to an Edelman Trust Barometer 63% of employees don’t trust their leaders https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2017/01/28/63-of-employees-dont-trust-their-leader-heres-what-you-can-do-to-change-that/ and having researched further, current information highlights that not much has improved since.

Think about it though, if you were to sit back and ponder it over, how many colleagues do you trust, is it a few, two, one or none?

Five years ago I would never have even thought about writing on such a topic as trust, but having invested last five years in working with a leading human behaviour and emotional intelligence specialist I learned quite a lot on the importance of fostering confidence in myself and my abilities to heal from multiple mental health illnesses. I discovered that without the foundation of trust between the two of us, I would have never achieved the countless breakthroughs that have happened on my development journey.

If I did not trust this man, the relationship he helped me build with myself would not exist, would it for anyone? Here is what Tammy De Mirza, author, speaker and an intuitive has to say about hiring a business coach who specialises in human behaviour did for her, her business, wealth and clients.

Truth is we all intuitively know that trust is the key when it comes to us enjoying successful relationships, whether it be business, working with a coach or being with the ones we love.

If I asked you this question: Who are you more likely to do business with or be in love with, someone you trust or someone you do not? You know the answer.

Working for many years in the UK Oil & Gas Industry, I could not help but notice how little people trust one another. Perhaps like me, you too have had similar experiences where you’ve helped someone, or the business and put your faith and trust in them. Only months down the line to have been stabbed in the back or been let down by the very same people you once trusted and were then left feeling that you had been used both emotionally and mentally.

One of the issues I’ve found upon asking many who work in this sector about this lack of trust is that it all comes down to whether leaders foster a culture of distrust or trust. Many work colleagues have shared with how the Leadership of the company they worked for are mainly faceless people who exist on a website. Others have said how the leaders they work for are people whom you hear from every few months in an online blog on an internal communications network.

In various employments, I would read these blogs out of interest and what I noticed was the deficient levels of engagement they got, whether it was comments or likes. In today’s modern way of working, some Leaders have come more accustomed to writing blogs or making short video as a means of being seen to engage with their staff.

Still, as mentioned statistically, when broken down that the engagement, in reality, reflected as often being less than 1% of the entire workforce, which shows a distinct lack of interest, commitment and participation with the Leadership. And this is a problem that if not addressed, can perpetuate even further.

Many of you would feel if leaders don’t engage with you, why would you engage with them meaningfully. When we read between the lines, we come to realise if someone fosters a distrustful or trustworthy relationship with you, something that Tony J. Selimi awakened me too.

For trust and engagement to be built with employees, leaders must allow relationships to flourish, and for companies to grow Leadership must participate actively not just virtually. Yet, many companies blame poor employee engagement on employees without ever looking at the part their leaders played in creating this disengagement.

For instance, Bernard Looney the new CEO of BP is an excellent example of a leader who actively engages with his staff via Instagram, LinkedIn, and zoom calls to thousands of BP staff at a time. In doing so, Bernard recognises and sees the value in Leadership team being more open, transparent, and prevalent in their delivery of content, which coincidentally simultaneously raises levels of organisational trust.

Here are few reasons that foster distrust in any industry, especially in the oil and gas industry that perhaps you’ve noticed them too:

  • Enormous values divide between Leadership, management, and the workforce.
  • To the vast majority of employees, leaders are perceived as faceless.
  • They are promoting an authoritarian culture and a feeling of being above the people whom they lead.
  • Some leaders as they are moved into positions of authority, they start to treat those from where they came from with disdain.
  • Forced policies that cut or take benefits from staff that in turn, build resentment against Leaderships, weakening trust.
  • Saving in the short term by cutting benefits becomes a long term cost, lowers staff morale, decrease engagement, employee and organisational productivity, performance, and profits.

The above are just a few reasons, and I am sure you can add to this list many of your own.

With the onslaught of redundancies that occurred both here in the UK and the Global Oil & Gas World caused by COVID-19, many employees from all industries feel aggrieved and have voiced this publicly on platforms such as LinkedIn.

One of the things that employees will judge companies by is how they acted as a company during the uncertainty time Covid-19 brought upon us all. It is something that will impact every company for many years to come.

It’s why I’ve come to see the importance now more than ever that companies have to place on hiring experts and trained professionals who already know the ins and outs of how to create workplaces that are more mindful, trusting and friendly for all.

Why? Because many companies place staff into positions, they have little experience or training. Areas that vary from between Diversity & Inclusion, Disability, Mental Health to Culture and Inclusion, and often unconsciously inject their values and opinions into the lives of others, with minimal credibility of the subject matter.

Most immediately look to build credibility or an audience through internal communication networks, or by attending endless virtual or real seminars, where very often they don’t even question the truth of what is being said. Still, much of this is virtual work that exists in a virtual workspace.

That when we truly sit down and examine the reality of it, has little resonance with the actual lived working environment, where the vast majority of employees don’t even speak or engage with one another, and in some cases don’t even know there colleagues names.

It’s almost as if we have sleepwalked into creating virtual workspace coma realities that we somehow have to make-believe to one another that they are making a big difference to our immediate tangible surroundings. Still, the question I have for you, is this the case, or is it a mere illusion?

As an example, in one of my employments, I set up a mental health online network, as did many others, but the reality was it made little difference. Yet, for some Leaders, they believed this to be enough and that it was making tremendous progress, for myself nothing of note happened, because it was all in a virtual world. It’s also why one size fits all virtual mental health will make little difference to our working surroundings. Frankly, it’s insane to believe that it will.

Here is a question for some of you who may be trying to make a difference:

Is your virtual workspace network a true reflection of your lived working reality, or is it just somewhere, where you’ve created an illusion that a difference is being made?

My reasoning for mentioning the above virtual realities that exist on a network or your works pc is because when we genuinely examine their contents, in all likelihood, we’ll find they are a far from being a reflection of the reality around us. After all, from my observations, most staff are fearful of sharing how they feel about their jobs because they never know who’ll be listening or whom it’ll get back too, which highlights ever further the root of distrust issues.

We all know the phrase’ walls have ears’

So if you’re a company, leader who now recognises the importance of trust, and the influence it plays as we move into, through and beyond working with the reality of COVID-19, and perhaps thought that a short blog or video was going to cut it on your staff’s return.

Perhaps reading this article has given you a new awareness to the reality that far more will be required to get your staff back onside and to move forward with trust, dignity, and respect for one another. It is why it is wise to invest in bringing Tony J. Selimi, human behaviour and emotional intelligence specialist to help you address all the actions that lead to distrust and help you create a trustworthy culture that you can benefit from year after year.

Paul McMonagle

Piping Supervisor, Workpack Engineer, and an Ambassador for Mental Health

PS –During the Corona Virus lockdown and stays at home period, Tony works on a virtual basis with clients all over the globe, facilitating the realisation and accomplishment of their personal and professional goals providing there is a compelling fit of values and vision. Here are four ways he can help you jailbreak the prison of your mind, grow your relationship, wealth, business and accelerate your journey to excellent health, influence and success.

#1… Book a Breakthrough Consultation by e-mailing [email protected]

#2 … Grab your copy of Tony’s #1 Amazon bestselling and multi-award-winning books A Path to Wisdom and #Loneliness and enrol in his Mindfulness for Higher Productivity, Performance and Profitable Life Udemy Course! Click here to join thousands of his happy students.

#3 … Make the fastest progress by hiring Tony to work with you on your business and train your teams. Just send an e-mail to a member of his team [email protected].

#4 … Hire Tony as a speaker to educate, inspire and transform your audience at your next company or industry event. Click HERE to download his”speaker sheet” and fill in the form with your event info.