Five ways to lose credibility with your employees


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Here are five ways leaders can lose credibility with their employees.

1. Not doing what you say you will do. I believe that doing what you said you’d do is one of the most important attributes of leadership. Unfortunately, too many owners and managers don’t even realize they’re falling short in this area. They might think they’re “putting it off” or “being forgetful,” but for the person to whom they gave their word it’s a failure of credibility. It doesn’t matter how big or small the action is, if you say you’re going to do something for an employee you must follow through.

2. Constantly contradict yourself. Years ago I attended a client’s staff meeting and listened to the owner give an inspirational talk on how important the customer is to their business. I wanted to give him a standing ovation! After the meeting, one of his managers asked him if he had had an opportunity to follow-up with an unhappy customer. The owner promptly went off on what an idiot the customer was, completely contradicting everything he had said in the meeting. You have to walk the talk.

3. Having off the record conversations. If you’re an owner or manager, there is no such thing as “off the record.” The minute you say, “Just between us…” I guarantee that you are about to lose your credibility. Here’s why. What follows after “Just between us….” is either gossip, which I address below, or you’re about to share information you shouldn’t be sharing. Either way, it’s a credibility killer. And the reason I bring this up a couple of times a year is because I was guilty of way too many” off the record” conversations when I was a young manager.

4. Gossiping. Call it what you want, but if you talk about someone to another person and say things you wouldn’t say if that person was standing there, it’s gossip, and that’s a big time credibility killer. Even if the other party is a willing participant in the gossip, they still think less of you. I don’t think most people even know they’re gossiping. It’s idle chat, but still a credibility killer.

On the other hand, positive gossip is a credibility builder. That’s sharing positive things about another person when they’re not there. As an example, you could tell Pete, “Mary is so good at showing customers additional products. I swear they end up thanking her for selling them more items.”

5. Blaming “them” for problems or unpopular decisions. Sometimes “them” are the customers. Sometimes it’s corporate or the owner. Sometimes I can’t even figure out who “them” is but if an owner or manager doesn’t own their results and direction, it’s costing them credibility.

I see this in a lot in chains. Store managers, and even district managers, sometimes create an “us against them” mentality. Why? Because it’s easier. Instead of saying this is what WE need to do, or this is how we’re now going to do something, they take the easy way out and blame “them.” Ultimately it’s not the easy way at all, because once you’ve lost your credibility it’s very hard to get it back.

The easiest way to keep and gain credibility is to lead by example and avoid these credibility killers.

So let me ask, are you at risk of losing credibility with your staff?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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