Trust is in short supply, according to a poll by Maritz Research. It found that American employees were more distrustful of their organisations’ management than they were one year ago.

Maritz cites “poor communication, lack of perceived caring, inconsistent behaviour and perceptions of favouritism” as leading factors in the erosion of trust.

Here are a few of the more disturbing findings:

* Only 10 per cent of employees trust their managers to make smart decisions in times of uncertainty.

* Just over 10 per cent think their organisation’s leaders are honest and ethical.

* Only 12 per cent believe that their employers genuinely care about their staff.

Don’t risk those kinds of statistics in your workplace. Follow these tips to maintain (or increase!) your team’s trust:

* Align your words and actions. Follow through with your commitments and promises. Honour the behaviours you claim are important to you, and engage in them yourself.

* Give credit to those who deserve it. When you present a success to your boss, acknowledge the person or people who made it happen. Your boss will equate your team’s successes with your leadership successes, and your employees won’t resent you for stealing their glory.

* Keep an even emotional keel. Stay professional, especially when things go wrong.

* Invest in your employees. Give your staff opportunities to improve and learn new skills. Offer them chances to take on new tasks. When they see that you are invested in their future, they will trust you more in the present.

* Share information. Some information is confidential, of course, but be open about the rest. Ease your team’s fears by explaining what’s going on and why. Don’t let them be the last to find out about organisational changes.

* Stop micromanaging. When you make an assignment, clarify the objectives and deadlines, but have the confidence in your staff to let them figure out the best steps to get there.

* Put an end to gossip and bullying. As a leader, it is absolutely inappropriate for you to engage in gossip about your co-workers. When you hear it or see any signs of bullying, nip it in the bud immediately.

* Listen to your staff. Often, front-line employees have the clearest insight about potential organisational improvements. Pay attention to what they say. Better yet, ask them for their thoughts.

* Don’t harp on failures. You need to address problems and mistakes to figure out what you and your team can learn from them, but keep the focus on the future, not the past. You shouldn’t stifle intelligent risk-taking behaviour; it is an asset that you want to foster in your employees.

* Be effective. Identify your weaknesses as a leader and as an employee of your organisation, and take action to overcome them. If your employees think you are incompetent, they will not trust you — and rightly so.

Follow these guidelines and emerge a trusted and respected leader.