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Jon Kennard


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Insight: Bosses today rarely apologise and inspire less trust


Only 5% of UK employees and 3% in EMEA  get an apology from their boss whenever they make a mistake, which is affecting levels of trust in leaders and employee engagement according to a global survey by The Forum Corporation. 

Forum's Global Leadership Pulse survey found that 49% of staff claim their boss never or rarely apologises, yet in contrast, nearly 60% of UK managers believe they always say sorry -  suggesting that leaders are mishandling mistakes at work or not communicating properly. An infographic of the findings will be published later this week on site.

Managers who choose to ignore their workplace missteps are afraid of tarnishing their image. 71% of managers say they refrain from asking for forgiveness for fear of appearing incompetent, while 29% are afraid of looking weak. According to the survey the most egregious examples of bad boss behaviour include, in order:

  • Lying
  • Taking credit for others’ ideas or blaming employees unfairly
  • Gossiping
  • Poor communication
  • Lack of clarity

Managers not taking responsibility for workplace gaffes is having a direct correlation to how much employees trust company leadership. 49% of managers and 24% of employees believe that acknowledging personal mistakes is one of the key things leaders can do to inspire trust; and being able to trust your boss today is very important for 93% of the employees surveyed. 

But with 33% of employees claiming that their bosses rarely even acknowledge their own mistakes, the workplace today has become more treacherous. 30% of UK staff say they trust managers less today, compared with past years. Leaders had an even more cynical view than the employees, with 38% of managers saying that employees trust their managers less now than in the past. Overall, less than 5% of employees said they trust their leaders 'to a very great extent' today.  

“When managers aren’t transparent in their actions – and that includes accepting responsibility for errors, being truthful with their employees and acknowledging hard work – that tends to breed mistrust among employees,” said Graham Scrivener, managing director of Forum EMEA. “Lack of employee engagement is a huge issue among UK workers and our research found that employees who register low levels of trust at work, are also the most likely group to report low engagement.” 

The study found that whilst trust in the UK workplace has suffered in recent years, there are certain actions that both employers and employees agree can bolster trust in addition to acknowledging personal mistakes. According to the survey, the four most effective tactics for inspiring trust are:

  • Listening to employees and understanding their concerns
  • Walking the talk – managers doing as they say
  • Following through on commitments
  • Encouraging employees to offers ideas and suggestions

A full report of Forum's global Leadership pulse survey, including specific EMEA regional findings, can be downloaded for free here

One Response

  1. Having a boss with bad

    Having a boss with bad behavior turns our environment into inferior and miserable workplace. They become influential in wrong way especially in office performance that makes employee demoralized. Instead of having a comfortable and inspiring day, you will become uneasy and nervous. You can get a payday loan to pay the bills while waiting on your check.


Author Profile Picture
Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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