How do you build trust in the workplace?

Graham Andrewartha| Director| MCA-group

MCA was contracted to assist in building trust with an senior management team who were suspicious and hesitant with each other. Chatting with the manager, Sheryl, we found they were all very serious and scared of making even little mistakes. This was reinforced in the individual sessions we held with each team member. Their anxiety was mostly due to Sheryl’s predecessor. We encouraged Sheryl to engage the team in more social sharing of some life stories and a few safe secrets.

She spent months modelling and assisting them in speaking up. After several examples where asking deep, awkward questions went off successfully they team began to lighten up. After 6 months the manager held a small celebration where she gave everyone an ice cream treat with endless topping options. They laughed when they realised it was her sneaky way of getting them to have fun working together since there wasn’t nearly enough toppings for each person to customize their ice cream bowl on their own.

A culture of trust

Building and maintaining trust is essential for any successful and high performance workplace. It allows team members to collaborate effectively and ensure that everyone is on the same page when striving towards a shared goal. Without trust, a workplace atmosphere can (surprisingly) quickly become toxic, causing employees to become disengaged and unproductive. Building trust in the workplace is therefore paramount if you want employees to remain motivated and committed to their work.

In Stephen Covey’s latest book, The speed of Trust, he says, “Without trust, we don’t truly collaborate; we, merely coordinate, or, at best, cooperate. It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team.”

Definition and benefits of trust

Trust is the confident belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest and truthful. In the workplace, trust is a sense of assurance that employees have in each other’s competence and intentions. Without trust, no one would want to be part of a team. Post pandemic we need to redefine what trust means today. Leaders will rely on their teams even more, often in mixed contexts and expectations.

Create team trust by:

  • Trusting the people and changing processes if there are problems.
  • Trust yourself. Don’t second guess yourself.
  • Establishing Clear Expectations. Be open about the challenges and gaps.  Be aware of differing expectations and help people understand what is the agreed goal. Be honest in your communication. Be able to deliver on commitments. Trustworthy leaders say what they mean and mean what they say. People will know when you can’t meet expectations.
  • Open Communication . Being transparent about weaknesses and mistakes, without being defensive or blaming others. Showing Empathy and Compassion.
  • Valuing Employee Contributions . Be open to new ideas and ways of working. Let your people know that you care for them. Appreciate their contributions and be grateful for them. Showing respect towards people in general, not only those with whom we agree or are friends. Being a role model for behavior you want others to follow.
  • Making trust a daily situational job.
  • Fostering Teamwork . Model collaboration and cooperation. Showing appreciation for individual contributions. Providing opportunities to develop people’s skills, knowledge, and abilities.
  • Providing recognition and rewards. Nothing beats genuine personalised recognition. Help them get the necessary training and development. Make sure they have what they need to succeed, and recognise their accomplishments.

Conclusion: develop respectful leaders

Leaders lead trust. Develop your leaders so they continually demonstrate trust. It should be a daily conscious action. As soon as you let go of your respect, you will lose trust. Maintain the relationship by being there for them.

         If you would like to trust us to help build more trust in your organisation, please contact us by phone on 1300 856 480 or by email