Trust in the Workplace

“My employer” was named by 75% of those surveyed worldwide as the most trusted institution in the recently released 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer. These findings from the annual report, now in its 19th year, reflect the significance of building and maintaining trust in the workplace.

workplace team in a meeting

As a manager, your role in leading your teams toward higher levels of trust is at a premium.

Modeling Behaviors

One of the most direct approaches to building trust in an organization is for the leader(s) to model the desired behaviors.

You need to be the one embracing and encouraging the shift in behavior if you want trust to grow.

All too often the simple “walk the talk” metaphor is ignored. If you stand up in a team meeting and deliver a beautiful speech about new goals and values, it means nothing if you turn right around and violate those principles.

Get updates via email

I’ve seen companies who attempt to implement sweeping culture change yet allow individual executives to stay with old behaviors. The impact is significant.

When employees in lower levels of the organization see or hear about an executive violating the principles, the trust factor goes right out the window.

Setting and Managing Expectations

It’s really about defining and measuring expectations. If you say you want to build a high-trust workplace, then you need to paint the picture for what that might look like at your business.

Not all definitions apply to all companies equally. Yours needs to be tailored to your business.

There are, however, some common themes that can be used to improve your employees level of trust. I provide you with 6 key areas to explore.

Team trust model diagram

Each of the six topics is really a set of questions that each employee will ask. In order for them to feel a sense of trust, each set of questions must have a satisfactory answer.

For the highest level of team trust to emerge, the answer cannot be lukewarm. The employee must get wowed by the answers they receive to their questions.

More importantly, the leader must be able to clearly and reliably speak to each of the areas as they pertain to the team.

This model is an ever-present and on-going continuum of activity as the team evolves. Yet having the process in place to understand the effort toward greater trust, gives everyone a common language from which they can express doubts, fears, and concerns.

Back to Walking the Talk

Once the answers to the team trust questions have been shared, leaders must model their behavior accordingly.

If you say you want collaboration across teams, then be the one to start that process. As issues arise, suggest or direct collaborative effort with other teams.

As you describe team purpose, be proactive in enforcing that purpose with the decisions you make. When something comes up that is not aligned with your team’s purpose, either reject it outright or open the discussion about why it might not be a fit. Let others persuade you to change if a change is needed.

If you are the manager who needs to lead a team to higher levels of trust, look in the mirror. See if you are properly prepared to guide that effort.

If not, seek help in making the changes you need to make. A coach can always help.

Question: Are you modeling the behaviors that might increase trust in your employees?