How to Build Trust in the Workplace: Why Trust Is the Secret Ingredient

By Ann Elliott

How to Build Trust in the Workplace

Have you ever been disappointed by someone who has broken a promise? Or failed to honor his word? If this happens often enough, he has the reputation of unreliability. This is true in your business, too. If customers discover they cannot trust your company to deliver on a product or a service, they take their business elsewhere.

You and/or your business can dig a deep hole of mistrust in one fell swoop or with an accumulation of small actions. Regardless of how you get into a hole of mistrust, it takes a LONG time of consistent, trustworthy action to get out of the hole. Sometimes, the damage is irreparable.

I worked on a team with Glenn (not his real name) who was quick to volunteer. His “I got it” could mean a half-done assignment or a complete omission. Either way he could not be trusted. He was likeable. He was not dependable. I found ways to work around him. In client relationships, I learned not to put my credibility at risk. Working around Glenn was inefficient and frustrating not only to me but others on the team.

To accomplish anything, you rely on others. You trust others to fulfill the responsibilities of a particular role in your organization. Others depend on you to hold up your end of the bargain, too.

The more efficient path is to develop trust within your organization and with your customers and maintain it. Sustaining trust is easier than repairing it.

Develop or deepen trust in your organization with these simple concepts:

  • Be trustworthy by keeping your verbal and written agreements regardless how small
  • Develop a belief in the innate goodness of people and expect the best from others
  • Teach others how to treat you by honoring, respecting, and trusting yourself
  • Be clear throughout the organization about the values and guiding principles
  • Articulate the shared vision and make sure people at all levels understand
  • Address broken promises, commitments, agreements, and disappointments promptly with respect
  • Provide a safe space for people to admit mistakes and to ask for help

If you intend to build and work in an organization that has a high level of trust, the action starts with you. Be trustworthy. Create an environment where reliability, trust, and confidence are the norm.

People trust others who are willing to admit they are not perfect. Regardless of the size of the organization, this is especially true for the leader. If you are perceived as Li’l Ms. Perfect, why would anyone want to admit to mistakes or a lack of knowledge? It is energy draining to keep yourself on the narrow footing of a pedestal. 

Nine advantages of a trust-based business:

  1. Teams make decisions easily and quickly
  2. An inverse relationship exists between trust and control
  3. Change is easier to implement
  4. People appreciate vulnerability
  5. Creativity is at a high level
  6. Accountability is normal
  7. Misfits leave on their own
  8. Toleration for risks heightens
  9. Transparency replaces secrecy

Trust is a guiding principle of leadership. With a foundation of trust, you make better decisions. You take wiser risks. Trust, like the rudder on a vessel, allows changing the direction while in motion. You and your business confidently serve your customers, your community, and each other. Trust is the secret ingredient.

Learn more about how you can strengthen your business from the inside out here. Leadership is an inside job. 

© 2021 Ann Elliott All Rights Reserved

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Ann Elliott

Ann Elliott, founder of The Berkana Company, excels at leadership strategy

An expert at helping business leaders enjoy more profits and improved productivity with less stress, she blends fun and excitement with executive coaching and training to yield results for her clients.

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