A Manager’s Guide to Creating Trust in the Office

Trust is vital if you’re looking to create a group of personnel that works together amicably and productively. Employees who have trust in you as a manager and in your company as a whole will be motivated to ensure that it prospers. A trusting relationship is built and maintained at work step by step with each action you take. It’s cemented with every interaction you have with a staff member. Trust can be a fragile thing, but over time it can be strengthened.


Success in building trust has two stages. Firstly, establishing that trust, and secondly, maintaining it. The whole process can only be successful if management sets an example of transparency. This culture of honesty will hopefully be carried through to the entire workforce and emulated by them.

The foundation of trust is essentially integrity. By definition, it’s keeping one’s word and being totally open, even if the situation is complicated. Employees need to be able to have confidence that you mean what you say. If they do, it will show through in their approach to work and in the image of the company that they present to the public.

The opposite of this is being inconsistent. Inconsistency will confuse your employees and undermine their trust in you. It breeds insecurity as workers won’t know where they stand and will not be able to rely on your word. The result is that they might well consider a position elsewhere.

Focus Small

It’s often not possible to control employees’ levels of trust in the overall organisation. However, it is possible to behave in a manner that promotes trust in your immediate work context. This may be just in your department or team, for instance. Creating trust in a smaller group where you have more control helps to grow that trust throughout the organization as a whole.


Open communication is one of the primary building blocks of trust in any relationship. Start by laying out your vision of where you want the business to be and be sure to communicate your core values. This will ensure that everyone understands the goals and works towards them together. Communicating in this way generates confidence and trust in you as a leader.

Withholding information leads to rumours, misinterpretation of facts and insecurity among your employees. Set up discussion forums and use every opportunity possible to share information, whether it’s positive or negative. This will help build a team of employees who are open to you and to the direction you want to take them.

Keep employees informed of changes, promotions or new policies as soon as they are rolled out. This provides no room for rumours to spread or uncertainty to grow. Give out as much accurate information as possible in any given situation. For instance, if there is a possibility of bonuses being cut that year, send out an email as soon as management has come to a decision.

Keep Commitments

Keeping commitments is a sure way of increasing trust and reducing fear in the workforce. It’s easy for management and team leaders to create visions and develop plans. What’s difficult is executing those plans. When management keeps changing priorities, dropping the ball, or missing deadlines, employees rapidly follow suit and start to lose trust.

It’s not always possible to keep to a deadline or commitment, but it is possible to explain the situation to your employees as soon as possible. Observed actions are seen by employees as a way of predicting future behaviour.

Deal with Difficulties

While it isn’t always pleasant, try to confront difficult issues as soon as possible. For instance, if an employee is often absent or is late with deadlines, deal with it timeously and decisively. This will show other employees that you’re not afraid of conflict and will create more trust in your ability as a leader.

Protect Your People

Make sure that every employee knows you have their best interests at heart. Make it a policy not to listen to gossip about other employees and don’t allow blaming, name calling or finger pointing. Encourage everyone to take responsibility for their own work. Employees will learn to trust you when they see that you don’t talk about colleagues or anyone else behind their back.

Show Competence

If you’re skilled and display competence at what you do, you will generate respect and trust. Ensure that you know what you’re talking about. If you don’t, rather admit it and commit to finding out.

This is a very effective way of building trust- managers saying they’re not sure about something, committing to finding out, then informing everyone as soon as they have the information. Any manager who pretends that they know everything and then go on to give out faulty information is on the way to destroying their own credibility.

Listen Well

Trust grows when employees feel that they’re being heard. It’s important to be sensitive and empathetic towards them so that they feel you can relate to their difficulties. Make eye contact as they speak and give them your full attention.

No matter what the employee’s position is or the length of time they’ve been at the company, make sure that everyone is given a voice. Trust will blossom if people feel that management is listening to them. Be willing to learn from even the most junior member of the team.

Treat Every Employee with Respect

It’s crucial that each employee feels valued and respected as a human being. When a new person joins the team, set an example of welcoming them and assuring them that their contribution is valued. Don’t leave it there but maintain the relationship by genuinely being interested in them as a person and in how their work is going.

This will lead to your respect being returned by an employee who is a loyal member of your team. Ensure that all employees follow this example of respect. Deal decisively with any incidents of intimidation or disrespect. Creating a supportive and friendly culture inside your organisation will help you win your employees trust, sooner rather than later.

At the end of the day, trust isn’t gained by using one technique or another. It’s a matter of character. Employees will trust you because of who you are and the way you behave, not because of any

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