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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Heald

Trust Issues and Micromanagement: Breaking Down Barriers to Flexible Working Arrangements in Construction


In today's rapidly changing work environment, one issue that keeps coming up is trust—especially when it comes to flexible working arrangements during the probation period. For many companies, this phase is full of uncertainties and insecurities, which really boils down to a deeper problem: a lack of confidence in their recruitment or training processes. As leaders looking to revolutionise workplace wellbeing, it's crucial to tackle these trust issues and create an environment where flexibility is not just a perk, but a fundamental part of our work culture.


The Trust Deficit in Probation Periods

Probation periods are meant to be a time of mutual evaluation. Companies check if new hires are a good fit, while employees see if the company meets their expectations. However, this period often becomes a time of intense scrutiny and micromanagement. Many managers struggle to trust new employees enough to grant them the flexibility they offer to seasoned staff. This lack of trust can come from a few places:


  1. Uncertainty in Recruitment: If companies aren't confident in their hiring processes, they might fear that they've hired someone who can’t perform well without constant supervision. This fear often translates into restrictive policies and close monitoring.

  2. Training Gaps: A lack of thorough training can leave new hires unprepared to handle their responsibilities independently. Managers might feel the need to micromanage to ensure tasks are done right, which can stifle the new employee's sense of autonomy and creativity.


The Impact of Micromanagement

Micromanagement can be detrimental to both employees and organisations. For new hires, it can lead to frustration and disengagement. They might feel that they are not trusted or valued, which can quickly erode morale. For the organisation, micromanagement can result in decreased productivity and innovation, as employees are not given the freedom to think creatively or take initiative.


Moreover, a culture of micromanagement can harm the company’s reputation. Prospective employees often look for workplaces that offer a healthy balance of guidance and independence. Companies known for micromanagement may struggle to attract top talent, who are likely to seek environments where they can thrive without being constantly overseen.


Building Trust through Effective Recruitment

To tackle these issues, it’s essential to build trust from the ground up, starting with the recruitment process. Here are some strategies to ensure that trust is ingrained in your company’s DNA from day one:


  1. Thorough Recruitment Processes: Spend time creating solid recruitment processes that help identify candidates who are not only skilled but also a good cultural fit. This can include behavioural interviews, practical assessments, and reference checks. A thorough recruitment process can ease fears about new hires’ capabilities.

  2. Transparent Communication: During recruitment, be clear about the company’s expectations and the flexibility offered. Clear communication can help set realistic expectations for both parties and build a foundation of trust.

  3. Incorporating Flexibility into Onboarding: Introduce flexible working arrangements during the onboarding process. This shows a commitment to trust and demonstrates that the company values work-life balance from the start. Provide clear guidelines and support to help new hires adjust to flexible working.


Enhancing Training and Development

A strong training programme is crucial for building confidence in new hires. When employees feel well-prepared, managers are more likely to trust them with flexible working arrangements. Here are some key components of effective training:


  1. Comprehensive Onboarding: Develop an onboarding program that goes beyond basic orientation. Include detailed training sessions on job-specific tasks, company culture, and expectations. A well-rounded onboarding program can significantly boost new hires’ confidence and competence.

  2. Mentorship Programmes: Pair new employees with experienced mentors who can provide guidance and support. Mentorship can help bridge the gap between training and real-world application, fostering a sense of community and belonging.

  3. Continuous Learning Opportunities: Encourage continuous learning by offering workshops, courses, and other professional development opportunities. When employees see that the company is invested in their growth, they are more likely to feel trusted and valued.


Fostering a Culture of Trust to Enhance Flexible Working in Construction

Creating a culture of trust requires ongoing effort and commitment from leadership. Here are some strategies to cultivate trust within your organisation:


  1. Lead by Example: Leaders should model the behaviour they expect from their employees. Demonstrating trust in your team by offering flexibility and showing confidence in their abilities can set a powerful precedent.

  2. Open Communication: Foster an environment where open communication is encouraged. Regularly check in with employees to discuss their progress, address any concerns, and provide feedback. Transparent communication helps build mutual respect and trust.

  3. Recognise and Reward: Acknowledge the efforts and achievements of your employees. Recognition can reinforce positive behaviour and show employees that their contributions are valued. This can be done through formal awards, public recognition, or simple gestures of appreciation.

  4. Empower Employees: Give employees the autonomy to make decisions and take ownership of their work. Empowering employees can boost their confidence and demonstrate that you trust their judgment and capabilities.


Overcoming Resistance to Flexible Working

Resistance to flexible working arrangements often stems from deeply ingrained habits and mindsets. Here are some ways to address and overcome this resistance:


  1. Educate Managers: Provide training for managers on the benefits of flexible working and how to manage remote teams effectively. Highlight successful case studies and share best practices to alleviate concerns.

  2. Pilot Programs: Implement pilot programs to test flexible working arrangements on a small scale before rolling them out company-wide. Use the pilot phase to gather feedback, measure performance, and make necessary adjustments.

  3. Set Clear Expectations: Define clear expectations for performance and outcomes. When employees understand what is expected of them, they are more likely to meet those expectations, regardless of their working arrangements.

  4. Monitor and Adjust: Continuously monitor the effectiveness of flexible working arrangements and be open to making adjustments as needed. Regularly solicit feedback from employees to ensure the arrangements are working for everyone.


Conclusion

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful workplace, and building it requires deliberate and sustained effort. By addressing trust issues and moving away from micromanagement, companies can create a more flexible, inclusive, and engaging work environment. This shift not only enhances employee wellbeing but also drives innovation and productivity. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to foster a culture of trust that empowers employees to perform at their best, ultimately leading to a more successful and harmonious workplace.


In summary, the journey towards building trust and embracing flexibility starts with a robust recruitment process, comprehensive training, and a culture that values open communication and empowerment. By taking these steps, companies can break down the barriers to flexible working arrangements and pave the way for a more dynamic and resilient workforce.

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