5 Steps for Building Trust in the Workplace

Posted on by Betsy Allen-Manning

Trust is the foundation for building strong teams, creating a positive work culture and producing massive results. The cost of not having trust in the workplace is also greater than you may be aware of. Fast Company magazine shared a story about a Fortune 500 company that realized it took an average of 89 weeks to execute change within the company, and 39 of those weeks were a direct result of mistrust.


There Are Five Elements of Building TRUST:

T     – Be TRANSPARENT with your team. Being honest, vulnerable, giving feedback and stating expectations are all forms of transparency. Be transparent by giving constructive criticism and positive feedback often so people understand where you’re coming from and what your expectations are. You can also be transparent by admitting mistakes and being vulnerable with others. This shows that you’re not perfect either and it’s a great way to show people that they can trust you. By being the example for your team, they will learn to be more transparent with you and with one another.


R     – RESPECT everyone. Respect your employee’s time, their opinions and their ideas. If you say your meeting is at 9 a.m., don’t show up at 9:15. If you say you have an open-door policy, don’t shut the door just because you don’t agree with someone’s perception. Remember, great leaders are great listeners. Showing respect doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone; however, when you honor their feelings, it builds trust and they feel safe to open up more often. Respect is simply The Golden Rule in action: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”


U     – UNITE your team. The first step here is to let people know that you will not tolerate cliques and gossip amongst your team. Gossip is like cancer. It kills team morale. Trust, however, is the cure. The second step is to have them work toward one vision. Give them a group project they have to complete by working together. If they fail, they all reap the consequences, and if they succeed, they all receive the reward. The team that struggles together and succeeds together is a team that unites together.


S     – SHOW them you care. There’s a quote by leadership expert John C. Maxwell that says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Trust is built when someone sees that you truly value them as a person and not just as an employee. According to Forbes, the top desire for employees is to feel valued by their company. You can show people you value them by learning more about them personally, praising them daily and asking for their input more often. When people feel valued, you do more than earn their trust—you earn their loyalty as well.


T     – TRUST-building activities build morale. High morale comes from a high-trust workplace. When someone enjoys the people they work with, it’s been proven that they’re happier and more productive, and that doesn’t happen by accident. One of the ways to raise morale and build trust at the same time is to provide activities that are focused on building trust in teams. When I conducted a training for Princess Cruises, I included a few trust exercises. One was called “The Index Card Game.” I had everyone write down something positive they thought their fellow employees brought to the team. When we finished, each team member walked away with an index card full of compliments they never knew their coworkers thought about them. The team said that one activity brought them closer than they’ve ever been.


When comparing a high-trust vs. low-trust work environment, these five elements of trust will either be present or missing from the leader. At the end of the day, the best principle that you can remember as a leader is this: “People don't trust words; they trust actions.”

Betsy Allen-Manning

Founder, CEO, Motiv8u Enterprises LLC

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