Are Your Employees Comfortable Going to Their Manager with Problems – Employee Surveys Assess Trust

Feb 25


Howard Deutsch

Howard Deutsch

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Employee surveys assess trust between employees and their direct manager/supervisor, and trust is essential for achieving high levels of employee satisfaction, engagement and performance.


The relationship between your organization’s managers/supervisors and the employees reporting to them is critical to the success of your organization. A key component of the relationship between managers and employees is the level of comfort employees have with going to their manager or supervisor with problems. Effective managers are open to receiving problems from employees and they realize that it is better to know about and address problems rather than ignore them. Some less effective managers are not approachable and employees fear the reaction they will experience if they bring a problem to their manager.

Organizations with healthy corporate cultures / business climates encourage their managers to be good communicators and to be open to hearing problems without reacting negatively. Employee satisfaction surveys / employee engagement surveys are a fast and cost-effective approach for assessing the level of trust employees have in their managers as well as assessing a wide range of other issues that drive employee and organizational performance.

The following illustrative comments are just a few of the many comments received in an actual employee satisfaction survey / employee engagement survey,Are Your Employees Comfortable Going to Their Manager with Problems – Employee Surveys Assess Trust Articles indicating that this particular company’s employees have a low level of trust in the individual managers they report to. Ratings in this employee survey / employee opinion survey for this question were also low. Demographic questions enabled identification of individual managers that received especially low ratings for this “trust” question.

Once you know which managers have a problem with trust you can work with them to turn around their behavior and managerial/leadership approach to earn the trust of their direct reports. In some cases, managers are not able or they are unwilling to change their approach. It is best to replace managers that are not able to gain the trust of their people. Fortunately employee satisfaction surveys / employee engagement surveys provide information so that decisions about managers are based on information rather than gut feel or feedback from just one or two employees.

Illustrative employee survey comments for the question “I feel comfortable going to my manager with problems”:

If your organization conducted employee surveys and asked this question, would you be seeing feedback similar to the following comments?

-  We do not.......He looks to find out who caused the problem instead of coaching the individuals and what/how can we solve the issue or further issues.

-  My manager is very quick to take sides with others, she has a very strong personality. She is very quick to tell you to "SHUT UP" as if you are a mere child, she is very unprofessional. I would never go to her with a problem unless I absolutely had to. But, because of my respect for my job values, "Following the Chain of Command", I would have to go to her first, not necessarily comfortable, but more so respect her position as my manager.

-  Absolutely not. I will either be ignored or berated.

-  He usually tells me someone else’s name to take the problem to, so I just don't bother him anymore with problems.

-  My manager will often listen to the problems that I have, but it is mostly blown off as something I just have to deal with.

-  My direct manager cannot make any decisions for me. He must go to the overall Manager.

-  If I want to discuss anything with her, she makes you wait until she acknowledges you. She is very impolite. Her replies are short and sarcastic. She is ill mannered. I have not evidenced her utilizing values, vision, etc.

-  My manager won’t even look me in the eye or acknowledge me if we pass in the hallway & I say good morning to her.

-  Nothing ever gets resolved, always pushed back, (I will get back with you! Doesn’t happen).

­-  NO WAY. Your problem will become a weapon at anytime to be used against you. Your problem will be deciphered to show your weakness and that will be capitalized on. Your problem is not held in confidence, it goes from supervisors to site manager or just the opposite. People talk with their team leaders or don’t talk at all and just hold things in until they walk out and quit. Manager here does not care about employees and possible problems and is open about the disdain felt for most all employees except the " chosen" ones . FAVORATISM runs rampant here!