Last updated March 18, 2024

Emotional traits for building trust at work

Why Is Trust so Essential in the Workplace?

Building trust at work is vital no matter what your position or status in a company.

As an individual employee, this trust will primarily be important between you and other team members, colleagues from different teams, and with your direct manager.

This trust can be important for you as an employee because it provides:

  • Development – For professional and personal development, you need a manager who empowers you (which involves trust on their part) and whom you can trust to support you.
  • Better well-being – because you will feel a part of the team and are able to build relationships, as opposed to suffering a lack of trust and feeling betrayed and unwanted.
  • Engagement & satisfaction – If you can trust others and you feel trusted, you tend to feel more engaged and happier with your work situation.
Understanding trust in the workplace graphic

As a manager or leader, trust impacts your:

  • ability to delegate tasks effectively and to do so with confidence to your team
  • confidence that tasks and projects will be completed on time and to a good level
  • chance to move away from needing to monitor and control people too much so that you can focus more on inspiring and mentoring them. This shift requires trust on both sides.

Trust also flows between the organization and the team resulting in competitiveness, productivity, and the overall success of the company.

As a work team, trust helps to create:

  • better communication
  • a better environment for collaboration
  • improved conflict resolution

Without a doubt, trust in the workplace is essential and it greatly impacts all levels of any organization i.e. both employees and the company itself.

So what can be done to build trust in the workplace? Whether you are an employee, manager, leader, or business owner, here are ten things you can consider doing to build trust.

1. Support Others Privately and Publicly

This is about showing support to other people, whether it is by offering your help when they need it or by appreciating something they did.

It is important to offer support not only in private but also publicly, to show appreciation and show that you are on their side.

Providing support shows benevolence (i.e., the extent to which you act in another person’s interest and with good intentions) and respect.

2. Show Care

You can show care by asking people questions about how they are!

Being caring towards other people shows benevolence, connection, empathy, and inclusion (as you make people feel like important members of the group by caring about them).

Everyone should feel included and a part of the team.

3. Empower Others

Team building trust

This is particularly important if you are a manager and it means giving the opportunity to your staff to be in charge of tasks or projects without micromanaging them.

By doing this, you show others that you trust and respect them.

4. Build Relationships

This creates connection, and it means that you are willing to make the effort to get to know other people.

You can build relationships by:

  • chatting with others
  • asking them questions about themselves and listening to their answers
  • offering your help
  • remembering their birthdays, etc.

5. Find Common Ground

This creates a connection. Finding common ground means finding things in common that you both share outside of work.

For example, chat with other people to find out if they have hobbies in common with you, or if there is something you both like.

For instance, liking the same type of music, practicing a certain sport, or even watching the same films.

Finding common ground works in terms of creating a connection because we tend to like people who are like us.

So, if you can find something in common with different members of the team it will help. It doesn’t mean that you have to share everything.

The other person can be very different from you but, as long as you find one thing you both share, you will start to build rapport and thus trust.

Also, finding common ground does not necessarily mean making friends with your colleagues or team members outside of work.

As long as you have something to chat about during a break though, it will help build a professional relationship.

Finding common ground helps to break down barriers. So, for example, if you are a manager, your reports will see you, the leader, as human and a real person, someone who is approachable.

6. Avoid Favoritisms

This makes other people feel included.

If you care about everyone equally, for example, by investing equally in everybody’s talent, nobody will feel like an outsider.

When somebody feels like an outsider, the trust is lost because they are not connected to you.

Unfortunately, too many companies still only recognize a few talented individuals and push them up the management ladder, while ignoring everyone else.

The key is to recognize that everyone has talents. It does not mean that everyone should become a manager, but everyone’s talents should be recognized and fostered.

So, companies should invest in everyone’s learning and develop them for the next role.

7. Be Visible and Approachable

This is particularly important if you are a manager and it shows your ability to connect, listen, make people feel included, and that you have empathy.

To be approachable, as a manager, you can, for example:

  • implement an open-door policy
  • have a positive and open attitude toward employees’ questions and concerns
  • have constructive meetings with staff and listen carefully to what others have to say.

8. Support Learning and Development

This action shows respect and benevolence.

By supporting everybody’s learning and development, you show people that you care about them and appreciate their abilities.

9. Acknowledge People’s Ability to Do Their Job

This shows respect.

You can recognize people’s abilities by empowering them if you are a manager.

Also, even something as simple as saying thank you, shows others that you appreciate their abilities, whatever your hierarchical relationship with them.

At an organizational level, a company can give employees extra rewards for a job well done.

Rewards do not necessarily mean extra money, but they can be anything that shows appreciation.

10. Involve Others and Seek Input

This action relates to listening, inclusion, and respect (as it shows that you respect other people’s ideas).

You can ask for other people’s input for job-related decisions for example.

Remember though to listen to their input and take their opinions on board.

If you then don’t implement a person’s suggestion, make sure to clearly explain why you didn’t do so.

Otherwise, other people might think that their opinion doesn’t carry any weight and that they are being just asked out of courtesy.

Such an outcome would be detrimental to trust building.

Trust teaching materials
>> See the Building Trust Training Course Materials
Dr Valeria Lo Iacono
Latest posts by Dr Valeria Lo Iacono (see all)