Merge's Blog

How can you build trust in the workplace?

Last week I asked the question – is trust in the workplace earned or lost?  Unexpectedly, responses were mixed: I expected the majority to subscribe to my philosophy of “You have my trust unless you prove me otherwise”, but a surprising number of managers still advocate the “Trust should be earned” viewpoint.  These unforeseen results got me thinking about a follow-up question – Okay, in that case, if trust needs to be earned, what can you (as a manager or team leader) do to foster an environment in which your employees can gain your trust?  Here are some quick ideas:

  1. Find points of commonality, either at a professional or a personal level.  Perhaps you and one of your staff members both have a love of travel, or you and one of your employees both graduated from the same university or college; common ground creates conversation starters and forms the foundation on which to build a relationship.  And as relationships grow, so does trust.
  2. Set employees up to succeed.  Give them tasks or assignments in which you know they’ll excel.  The glow of success will spill over into future assignments which you can then increase in complexity and risk as time goes on.
  3. Be generous in your praise.  Of course, the praise should be sincere and legitimate, but don’t just think about what a good job your employee did, tell him!
  4. Give staff an opportunity to ask questions.  Let them engage in a dialogue with you; it’s a great way for you to assess their strengths and skills, and it promotes a positive working environment.

This is my starter list.  What else do you have to add?  What are you doing to build trust and cooperation on your team?  Please comment below.


  • Employees will trust you more if they know you care about them on a personal level. If they believe that they are only viewed for what they bring to the table, they won’t give you all they could. As you said Merge, find common ground where you communicate person to person.
    Show that you are committed to seeing them succeed. That means coaching and mentoring them to bring out their best.
    OK, I could go on, but I love where you are taking this Merge.

  • Lea, I like your comment about showing you care at a personal level. “Personal” is very important I think, because people want to be known for more than just their jobs. A leader who shows personal interest becomes more likeable, and that leads to greater trust.


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