Trust in management – what is crucial for change management?

What specifically influences whether you trust management particularly during times of change? Does it matter more whether you think they’re up to the challenge of change management, or whether they have your interests at heart?

There is a fair amount of evidence to show that employees are often inclined to see the negative consequences of change management before the positive. Numerous studies have shown that trust in management is a crucial factor in whether employees maintain a positive attitude to what’s happening in the organization – and whether they stay, particularly during times of change. But what actually influences whether the employees trust management?

Three attributes of trust

A new study, just published gives some useful insight about the concept of trust. Building on previous research, the researchers identified three key factors that determine whether employees have faith in their seniors:

  1. Ability – do managers know what they’re doing?
  2. Integrity - are they being honest and professional?
  3. Benevolence - do they have the welfare of their employees at heart?

The study looked at employee perceptions of all these factors in a company-takeover situation, and specifically looked at the effect on employee attitudes towards management and how this influences staff turnover.


The results were fascinating – what the researchers found was that the ability and integrity of the management were important factors in whether people had trust in their management, and benevolence as seen by staff had no effect on perceptions of trust. For staff turnover (that is, staff leaving, or intending to leave), people's judgement of management’s integrity that was key. Low levels of perceived management integrity significantly increased intention to leave.

This study, arising from a real life change management situation, therefore shows just how important management’s actions can be in whether they’re on board with organizational change, and whether they plan to stay or not.


Budean, A., & Pitariu, H. D. (2015). The relationship between trust in manager and the attitude towards change in the context of an international merger. Psihologia Resurselor Umane, 7(1), 29-42.