10 ways managers can improve trust in the workplace

By | July 15, 2011

adi_gaskellGuest blog by Adi Gaskell, editor of The Management Blog for the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Trust at work has been in the news recently. It has also been exercising the Good Work Commission which has just released a report on modern work, Good Work and our Times, highlighting the importance of trust in building workplaces that engage and motivate people. CMI research revealed similar findings but found that nearly a quarter of employees had lost faith in their manager.

High levels of trust are widely regarded as essential when motivating your team and improving job satisfaction. Alas during the recession levels of trust have fallen. So here are 10 ways you can improve trust levels in your workplace.

10 ways managers can improve trust in the workplace

1.       Take your time – Trust is something that by its very nature takes time to build up. It isn’t something that you can do via a grand gesture or short-term initiative

2.       Empathise – It’s difficult for someone ever to trust you if they don’t feel like you understand them and their situation

3.       Treat all ideas as equal – Despite many texts to the contrary, many organisations still silo innovation. If the idea doesn’t come from the right source it won’t get listened to. Taking ideas on their merits rather than based upon their source is a key facet of developing trust

4.       Be open and honest – A part of any manager’s role is sometimes to make unpopular decisions. You won’t be able to escape this, but you can be open and transparent about why you’re doing something. Even better is involving your team before the decision is made. Exclusivity is essential if you want to be trusted

5.       Don’t bury bad news – If you’ve got to deliver bad news, don’t sugar-coat it, certainly don’t attempt to lie about things. If you’ve got bad news to deliver do so honestly and candidly. People need to believe what you’re saying is the truth if they’re to trust you

6.       Don’t horde information – It wasn’t that long ago that people felt compelled to keep all of their knowledge and information to themselves in the belief it would propel them up the career ladder. Modern organisations however demand that knowledge is shared for mutual benefit

7.       Know your limits – You might be a manager but you’re not superman, and no one expects you to be, so if you don’t know the answer, admit it

8.       Admit your mistakes – We all make mistakes, and managers are no different. Of course you should always try and do what you say you will. If you can’t do that however, own up and admit your mistakes. Admitting to being human goes a long way to building trust in you

9.       Don’t abuse your status – As a manager you have certain perks that can come with the position.  You might get freebies tossed your way or greater clout attached to your opinion. If you abuse this then you will destroy any trust your team has in you. Run a strict meritocracy where your opinions are judged on their merits, not on your status as the boss

10.   Be accountable – Just as you should own up to your own mistakes, you should also be accountable for those of your team. They need to know that you expect high standards of behaviour from them, so if they’re doing things wrong, say. You’re not just a manager.  Remember, you’re a leader too

Once your staff lose faith, productivity goes down – how can management training contribute to ensuring this doesn’t happen?

3 thoughts on “10 ways managers can improve trust in the workplace

  1. Pingback: Latest on business strategy, leadership, finance, innovation and sustainability | Bradford Management Thinking Blog

  2. Roger Edward Jones

    Have you ever worked for an inspirational leader? I know I have. I’ve also worked for some that are not so inspirational and have been there myself… I used the facts and the figures. Until I heard a leader from another organisation appeal to the emotions. They didn’t just clap politely when he walked off stage as they had after I’d finished shuffling my notes as I went – no – he could have taken a bow and come back for an encore.

    There are a lot of business parable books on the market today – they tell the story about how good businesses and leaders work, and what makes not just a good business, but an exceptional one. As a business storyteller I feel this is the way to go rather than relying on the traditional methods of managing and leading (having tried both of course). For example – The Go Giver – Burg and Mann, (waiting on their latest one “it’s not about you), The art of influence – Chris Widener and of course the early ones such as Who Moved My Cheese and the One Minute Manager – people remember stories more than facts and figures – they remember the emotions and how people make them feel. I think today’s managers and leaders have a bit to re-learn


  3. Superb Search

    I believe point 9 is the most significant in this list and proves to be the downfall of many managers. Trust is the key. Lose that and you’re finished and you can’t do any worse than by setting a bad example yourself. If a manger can’t control their actions, then how can he/she expect their team to do so?!

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