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In last month’s article on trust, we shared some behaviors that can build trust and some that can damage trust. In this second article on trust in the workplace, we share some key ways to create a climate of trust.

There are signs that there is high trust in a work environment. Some examples of these signs are when employees are given the resources, authority and support to do their job well. Responsibilities are delegated, as well as the authority to complete the task. Honesty is the standard operating practice. Information is freely shared and people in the workplace generally take the initiative needed to meet department goals.

So, how is a climate of trust created?

Here are some key strategies and tactics for creating a climate of trust:

  1. Be the first to trust. When you are willing to trust, people are more open to the idea.
  2. Ask questions, listen and take advice. Communication is critical in building relationships based on trust.  
  3. Always say WE. It lets people know they are not alone. Build a foundation, a safety net, letting others know they can depend on you and that you will be there to support them.
  4.  Create jigsaw groups. Similar to a jigsaw puzzle, all the pieces are needed to complete the task or project.   Teams should have complementary as well as conflicting skill sets in order to produce the best results.
  5.  Focus on gains, not losses. There will be both. But focusing on the gains lets everyone know that there is something positive that comes out of everything. It’s the glass half full versus half empty view point.
  6. Make a list of alternative wins. The outcome is not the only sign of success. For example in weight loss the scale is not the only measurement of success. Some alternative wins may be a loss in inches, smaller clothes sizes, better blood pressure or test results.
  7. Take a lot of human moments. Praise, give positive feedback, say thank you and celebrate small successes, as well as large.
  8. Create places and opportunities for information interactions. Depending on each person’s behavior style, providing opportunities for interactions increases communication, information sharing, team building and builds relationships.  

Collaboration is the critical component for achieving and sustaining high performance. And trust is at the heart of collaboration. Leadership is more essential, not less, when collaboration is required. The more trusted we feel, the better we innovate. Supervisors who are directive and hold tight to the reins of power find themselves with employees who withhold and distort information.

Psychologists have found that people who are trusting are more likely to be happy and psychologically adjusted than those who view the world with suspicion and disrespect. Distrust begets distrust. And trust begets trust.

At JFD Performance Solutions, we have methods and assessments to get at the issue of trust in the workplace, so don’t hesitate to contact us if we can help.


Thanks to Laura Dillingham, Senior Strategic Partner, at HPI Solutions for her thoughts and insights on trust.