Have you ever had a big brainstorming session that fell completely flat? You dreamt of sitting around a huge whiteboard and spitballing ideas as a team, but the reality was a group of people avoiding eye contact and hesitantly making suggestions. The problem? There was little trust in the room. Without trust, people are reluctant to put themselves out there. If they do, they’re vulnerable. Which means they could be dismissed or judged. Conversely, employees who trust their colleagues and leadership are more likely to be open, honest, empathetic, collaborative, and constructive. All of which boosts innovation and productivity.

1. Tell the truth

This one is fundamental. It seems incredibly obvious but is surprisingly easy to lapse from. What about when your colleague asks if you followed up with that email you totally forgot about? You could lie, say yes, and do it that very moment. Or, you could admit that you totally forgot but will do it now. This may hurt your Reliability rating, but the day you get discovered as a liar, both your Credibility and Reliability will shatter. Not worth it.

2. Be Honest & Support Your Team

Employees must know you are honest with them at all times. Even when the truth is difficult to hear, they need to know you will give them the facts. At the same time, you also need to be sensitive to their feelings and use constructive criticism when necessary. For your team to do their best work, they should feel supported. Mistakes will happen, but your team needs to feel comfortable sharing problems with you in confidence. By being supportive and honest, you can establish trust in the workplace.

3.  Admit when you don’t know something

If you don’t know the answer or you don’t remember the solution, just say so. Not only will this allow you to learn and grow, but you won’t be considered a fake who’s wasting people’s time with lies.

4. Avoid Micromanaging

Think about how you felt the last time a boss micromanaged your decisions or workflow. Did you feel inspired to take initiative? Or did it feel like they didn’t trust you to do the right thing on your own? No one enjoys being micromanaged as it can have a profound negative effect on your team members. This does not mean you have to let your employees do whatever they want without any direction. You can maintain some level of control over their actions without making them feel micromanaged.

5. If you say you’ll do it, do it

If you cancel at the last minute, fail to show up, or miss a deadline, people will instantly wonder if you’ll do it again. You’ve planted that seed. If you make a habit of it, then people will learn that this is your normal behavior and will instinctively not trust you to follow through with commitments.

6. Keep Your Word

One of the easiest ways to build trust is to always keep your word. If you make a promise to do something, follow through on that promise. Never tell someone you will finish a report or read a memo unless you actually plan on doing it. If there is some reason why you could not keep your word, be honest and tell the employee what happened. People can forgive you for a family emergency or an unexpected problem, but it will become an issue if you simply don’t do it or make up poor, dishonest excuses.

7. Explain your thought process

If you’re transparent—if you communicate your intentions and reasons for doing something—you’re giving people a window into who you are. You’re giving them a grounding for trusting what you do because they can understand why you’re doing it.

8. Body Language Matters

Your body language shows whether you are listening to the other person or believe what they are saying. One simple way to build a strong relationship is through eye contact. When people avoid making eye contact, it makes them seem shifty, uncomfortable, or dishonest.


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