How to Build Trust in the Workplace [18 Effective Solutions]

Increased trust in the workplace leads to higher productivity, less stress, better employee retention, and increases job satisfaction. When employees trust each other, they are more likely to collaborate effectively and communicate openly (employees are more likely to share their ideas and opinions in an environment where they feel safe and respected), as well as they are more likely to feel engaged and committed to their work.

A lack of trust can lead to a toxic work environment, where employees are reluctant to share information, take risks, or support each other.
Part 1

Types and Components of Trust: Rational vs. Emotional Trust

Both rational and emotional trust are important for building a high-trust workplace.

Rational trust is present when people can count on each other to fulfill their responsibilities and complete tasks on time. It is a form of trust that is based upon a rational assessment of the situation, rather than an emotional or intuitive response. Rational trust occurs when a person has enough information to make a decision about the reliability of another person or organization.

According to William H. Bleuel, PhD, “Rational trust would include the following aspects: Knowledge, Competence, Ability, Reliability, Predictability, Credibility and Dependability”; “Emotional trust would include the following aspects: Empathy, Feelings of security, Benevolence, Good will, Personal beliefs and Altruism”.

Components of rational trust:

  1. Knowledge: Information, facts, and understanding that you possess about a particular subject, topic, or field. It can be acquired through education, training, and experience. Your knowledge allows you to make informed decisions and provide valuable insights.
  2. Competence: Ability to perform a task or job effectively and efficiently. It involves having the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to carry out a specific job or function. Your competence allows you to complete tasks with precision and accuracy.
  3. Ability: Natural or acquired skills or talents that allow you to perform a task or activity well. It can be physical, cognitive, or emotional. Your abilities allow you to excel in your field and contribute to the success of your team.
  4. Reliability: Quality of being trustworthy or dependable. It refers to the consistency and accuracy of a person or thing in performing a task or function. Your reliability allows others to trust and rely on you to complete tasks and meet deadlines.
  5. Predictability: If a person is predictable, it means that their behavior, actions, or reactions are consistent and can be anticipated with a high degree of accuracy. Being predictable means that others can rely on you to act in a consistent manner, which can be a positive trait in many situations, such as in a work environment where consistency and reliability are important.
  6. Credibility: Quality of being trustworthy: it refers to the perception that others have of a person’s honesty, integrity, and expertise. Your credibility allows others to trust and respect your opinions and decisions.
  7. Dependability: This quality refers to the ability of a person to consistently perform tasks without fail. Your dependability allows others to count on you to complete tasks and projects with excellence and/or on time.

Emotional trust means building deep connections with people by understanding their emotions and supporting their well-being. Emotional trust is built by taking the time to connect with colleagues on a personal level.

Components of emotional trust:

  1. Empathy: This is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It involves putting oneself in another person’s shoes and experiencing their emotions and perspectives. Your empathy allows you to connect with others on a deeper level and provide support and understanding.
  2. Feelings of security: This refers to the sense of safety and comfort that a person experiences in their relationships. Your ability to create feelings of security in others allows them to feel safe and supported.
  3. Benevolence: This is the desire to do good and act kindly towards others, and having a generous and compassionate attitude towards others. Your benevolence allows you to make a positive impact on those around you.
  4. Goodwill: This refers to the positive attitude and intentions that a person has towards others and acting in a friendly and helpful manner towards others. Your goodwill allows you to build positive relationships and create a welcoming environment for those around you.
  5. Personal beliefs: Values, principles, and convictions that a person holds about themselves, others, and the world around them. Your personal beliefs inform your actions and decisions, and allow you to stay true to your values and principles.
  6. Altruism: Selfless concern for the well-being of others and acting in a way that benefits others without expecting anything in return.

When employees feel that they can rely on each other not just to get the job done (rational trust), but also to support each other (emotional trust), this combination creates a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect that is essential for a positive workplace culture.
Part 2

Examples of Reasons Why People Don’t Trust Each Other at Work

  1. Due to past experiences. If an employee has been let down by a coworker or supervisor in the past, they may be hesitant to trust them in the future.
  2. Lack of transparency. If someone feels that their colleagues are hiding something, they may begin to question the motives of their coworkers and superiors, and they may be less likely to trust them in the future.
  3. Lack of effective communication also contributes to a lack of trust in the workplace. If employees are not communicating effectively with each other, misunderstandings can occur, and trust can be eroded.
  4. Competitiveness: In a competitive work environment, people may feel that their colleagues are trying to outdo them or sabotage their efforts. This can lead to a lack of trust because people are more focused on their own success than on working together as a team.
  5. Personal Bias: People may have personal biases or prejudices that make it difficult for them to trust certain colleagues. This could be due to differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors. When people are not able to see past their biases, it can lead to a lack of trust.
    Part 3

18 Solutions to Build and Maintain Trust in the Workplace

Open, honest communication is the foundation of trust; it requires both speaking and listening. Employees should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, and leaders should be receptive to feedback and willing to address concerns. Active listening, empathy, and acknowledging emotions are all important skills for building trust. Another important factor is consistency. Trust is built over time through consistent actions and behavior: by aligning words and actions, leaders can build trust and inspire others to do the same. Trust also requires a willingness to take risks and be vulnerable. By taking risks and showing vulnerability, co-workers can build deeper connections and establish emotional trust.
Here is our list of essential solutions to build trust in the workplace:

  • Communicate Effectively
  • Be Consistent in Words and Actions
  • Be Transparent and Open
  • Show Empathy and Understanding
  • How to Build Reliability and Accountability
  • Provide Honest Feedback
  • Build Deeper Relationships to Develop Emotional Trust
  • Promote Collaboration
  • Demonstrate Values and Integrity
  • Support Growth
  • Admit Mistakes
  • Maintain Confidentiality
  • Be Inclusive
  • Involve and Delegate
  • Show Appreciation and Celebrate Success
  • Encourage Sharing Knowledge
  • Set and Maintain Workplace Boundaries
  • Navigate Tough Conversations with Dignity and Empathy
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Let’s look into this in details.
Part 4

How to Communicate to Develop Trust

Being open, honest, and genuine in all interactions (sharing your thoughts and ideas, empathizing with others, and actively listening to understand different perspectives) can help establish lasting relationships and trust among coworkers. Here are some techniques:

  • Be transparent: Share relevant information with your colleagues and provide context where needed. This demonstrates your trustworthiness and openness. Be honest about your successes and struggles, as well as areas for improvement.
  • Practice empathy: Be emotionally intelligent and understanding of other people’s feelings and perspectives. This not only fosters trust but also encourages a supportive work environment. A great tip for empathetic communication is to acknowledge others’ emotions when discussing work-related topics or when offering assistance.
  • Practice active listening: When someone is speaking, ensure you give them your full attention. This will create an environment in which they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. Remember to ask open-ended questions for deeper understanding and demonstrate that you’re truly engaged in the conversation.
  • Use appropriate tone: When communicating through email or in person, be mindful of the tone you use to convey your message. A friendly and professional tone helps foster trust and positive relationships with colleagues.

Part 5

How to Demonstrate Consistency in Actions

One of the essential ways to build rational trust in the workplace is through consistency in actions. This means being reliable, fair, and sticking to your commitments. For example, according to this article on LinkedIn, being consistent in expectations and behavior is essential for building trust in a leader. When employees see that their colleagues and leaders consistently uphold and follow through on their promises, it becomes easier for them to trust and rely on one another.

  • Set realistic expectations: Be honest about what you can and cannot do, and make sure your commitments are attainable. This will help ensure that you can consistently meet the expectations of your teammates.
  • Communicate clearly and frequently: Keep your coworkers informed about your progress on tasks and projects. Provide regular updates, so they know what to expect and when to expect it. This clear communication helps build trust as it demonstrates transparency and predictability.
  • Hold yourself accountable: If you make a mistake or fail to fulfill a commitment, own up to it, and take responsibility. Admitting and learning from mistakes is critical in building trust, as it shows authenticity and humility.
  • Be fair and unbiased: Treat all your colleagues equitably, and avoid playing favorites. This helps create an atmosphere where everyone feels valued and fairly treated, fostering trust among team members.


Part 6

How to Show Transparency and Openness

Transparency and openness play a crucial role in building trust within the workplace. By fostering a culture of honesty, employees are more likely to feel comfortable and confident in their working relationships.

One way to promote transparency is by leading by example: when managers and leaders demonstrate transparency in their actions and decisions, employees are more likely to follow.

  • Hold regular team meetings to discuss goals, progress, and obstacles.
  • Use a variety of communication channels, such as email, chat, and face-to-face conversations, to accommodate different communication preferences.
  • Establish open-door policies for managers and supervisors, where employees can discuss their concerns and ideas freely.
  • Encourage employees to express their thoughts, ask questions, and voice concerns without fear of repercussions. This helps create a speak-up culture, where team members feel valued and heard.


Part 7

How to Improve Empathy in the Workplace

Developing empathy at work can start with simple steps like practicing active listening. When communicating with others, focus on their words and reactions to effectively understand their concerns and emotions.

Another way to foster empathy in the workplace is by sharing personal experiences. When appropriate, open up about similar situations you’ve faced when trying to empathize with coworkers. This personal touch can help you reach common ground and demonstrate your compassion towards their feelings.

Acknowledge negative emotions. Contrary to popular belief, recognizing negative feelings can actually be rewarding, because it demonstrates understanding and support for colleagues who are going through tough times.

Part 8

How to Build Reliability and Accountability

To strengthen reliability, encourage employees to follow through on commitments. This includes meeting deadlines, fulfilling promises, and displaying a consistent work ethic. Managers can model reliability by being punctual, responsive, and consistent in their actions and decisions.

  • Set clear expectations: Establish a shared understanding of responsibilities and deadlines.
  • Provide resources: Ensure team members have access to tools and information needed for their tasks.
  • Communicate priorities: Keep employees informed of organizational goals and how their work contributes to achieving them.

Promoting accountability is vital for building trust within teams. When employees hold themselves and others accountable, they demonstrate a commitment to quality work and mutual support. Here are a few strategies to encourage accountability:

  • Create a culture of feedback.
  • Encourage open communication and feedback among team members to foster continuous improvement.
  • Empower employees.
  • Allow employees to make decisions and take ownership of their tasks, fostering a sense of responsibility.
  • Recognize achievements.
  • Acknowledge and reward employees who consistently deliver quality work and hold themselves accountable.
  • Address underperformance.
  • Provide support for employees who are struggling and develop improvement plans to address issues.

Useful resource: How building an environment of transparency and openness improves accountability.

Part 9

How to Provide Feedback and Recognition

Providing constructive feedback helps employees understand their strengths and areas for improvement, while recognizing their achievements creates a positive work atmosphere. Encouraging a feedback culture can be achieved through regular performance reviews and one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers. Open communication channels, such as team meetings or anonymous suggestion boxes, can also facilitate constructive feedback from peers.

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To make feedback more effective, follow these guidelines:

  • Be specific about the behavior or action you’re addressing
  • Focus on the impact of the behavior or action, rather than personal traits
  • Include suggestions for improvement or alternative approaches

Recognition plays an equally important role in trust-building.

  • Publicly praise employees for their achievements during team meetings
  • Create an employee awards program for exceptional performance
  • Send personalized thank-you notes acknowledging individual efforts

Learn more: How to Give Effective Feedback (and Avoid Mistakes)
One on One Meetings: Actionable Techniques and Best Practices

Part 10

How to Build Relationships at Work

  • Acknowledge emotions: Recognizing and acknowledging the emotions of your coworkers can help strengthen your relationships. A simple act such as verbally acknowledging how others are feeling forms deeper connections.
  • Offer assistance: Be willing to help coworkers when they need it, as this demonstrates trustworthiness. Helping and supporting your colleagues can be essential in fostering strong relationships at work.
  • Communicate effectively: Establishing open lines of communication can demonstrate trust within your team. Ensure emails and conversations with colleagues are professional, easy to understand, and friendly.
  • Honor commitments: A trustworthy person does everything possible to fulfill agreements they have made. Always tell the truth and do not give others an opportunity to catch you in a lie.
  • Develop people skills: Improving your interpersonal skills can lead to better work relationships. Ensure you are respectful, empathetic, and compassionate towards your coworkers.

Part 11

How to Promote Collaboration to Build High Level of Trust

  • Establish clear goals: Setting measurable goals and objectives for projects ensures that all team members understand the purpose and vision behind their work. This alignment is crucial for fostering collaboration in the workplace.
  • Practice open communication: Encourage honest and transparent communication among team members. This includes both sharing ideas and being respectful of differing opinions. Open dialogue not only strengthens collaboration but also builds trust within the group.
  • Encourage positivity: Maintaining a positive attitude, especially during challenging times, can help teams overcome setbacks and foster a strong collaborative environment.

Part 12

How to Demonstrate Integrity at Work

  • Be honest and transparent: Honesty, even during challenging situations, fosters trust. Transparent communication helps prevent misunderstandings and leads to better decision-making.
  • Admit mistakes: No one is perfect. Acknowledging errors and taking responsibility for your actions shows humility and builds trust.
  • Keep commitments: Follow through on your promises and meet deadlines. Consistently keeping commitments is essential for building trust with colleagues, because it demonstrates dependability and accountability: two components of rational trust listed in the first chapter.
  • Display fairness: Actively demonstrate that you treat everyone equally, regardless of their role. Ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute and succeed.
  • Reward honesty: Encourage a culture of transparency and integrity by acknowledging and praising honesty in the workplace. This helps to reinforce the importance of trust and ethical behavior among team members.
  • Act in the best interest of your team: Altruism is one of the components of emotional trust. Putting the needs and well-being of your team before your own personal interests builds emotional trust and fosters a sense of collaboration and unity.

Trust is built over time through consistent actions, so always strive to maintain your ethical principles and values.

Part 13

How to Support Growth

One of the most crucial aspects of building emotional trust in the workplace is supporting the growth and development of team members. Encouraging employees to enhance their skills and knowledge not only benefits the organization but also demonstrates that their leaders genuinely care about their success and well-being.

One way to support growth is by providing opportunities for skill development through training programs and workshops. These programs should be relevant to the employees’ roles and tailored to suit their specific needs. Providing access to online courses, seminars, and conferences can also be a great way to expand their skillset and introduce them to new perspectives.

Promoting a healthy work-life balance can also play a vital role in building emotional trust. Encourage employees to take regular breaks, avoid overworking, and allocate time for personal growth and self-care.

Part 14

How to Admit Mistakes to Create Environment of Trust

Willingness to recognize shortcomings positively impacts team dynamics and creates an environment where employees can take risks and learn from their experiences. Openly accepting responsibility for missteps also showcases an individual’s integrity, leading to increased trust among colleagues. When admitting mistakes, it is important to follow a few steps:

  • Be honest and genuine in your admission
  • Address the impact of the mistake on the team or project
  • Propose a solution or an action plan to rectify the issue
  • Learn from the experience and prevent future occurrences

Part 15

How to Maintain Confidentiality in the Workplace to Increase Trust

Maintaining confidentiality is a crucial aspect of building and maintaining trust in the workplace. Employees need to feel confident that their private information and sensitive conversations will be kept confidential by their colleagues and superiors. One way to ensure this is by creating a culture of privacy and respect.

  • Encourage employees to be mindful of sensitive information and to avoid sharing it inappropriately. They should also be reminded to protect electronic communications by using secure channels and password-protecting sensitive documents.
  • When employees need to discuss confidential matters, provide designated spaces that are free from disruptions and away from common areas. This will help prevent accidental disclosure of sensitive information.
  • Develop and enforce clear policies related to confidentiality. These should outline the types of information considered confidential, the appropriate methods for sharing, storing and disposing of it, and the consequences for breaches of confidentiality.
  • Training and education are essential for fostering a culture of confidentiality. Regularly provide workshops, seminars or resources on maintaining confidentiality in the workplace.
  • Lead by example. When leaders demonstrate a commitment to maintaining confidentiality, they set a high standard for their employees to follow.Part 16

How to Be Inclusive at Work and Increase Trust

Creating an inclusive work environment is paramount for building trust within the workplace. Inclusivity ensures that every team member feels valued and respected.

  • To promote inclusivity, establish clear inclusivity goals that reflect your company’s values and commitment to this practice. Setting achievable goals helps demonstrate your organization’s dedication to fostering an inclusive environment and measuring its success.
  • Consider forming an inclusion council to ensure continuous practice of inclusivity within your workplace. The council can comprise representatives from different departments and levels in the organization, working together to address diversity and inclusion issues and strategies.
  • Encourage open and respectful communication among team members. Foster informal interactions by organizing casual events like company-wide lunches, volunteer days, or cross-team activities. These opportunities help break down barriers and create meaningful connections among employees.
  • Incorporate pronouns in email signatures to respect and recognize employees’ gender identities. Taking this step demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and creates a supportive environment for all team members.
  • Listen to employee feedback and take action on their concerns and suggestions. This approach shows your team that their opinions are valued and considered in decision-making processes, emphasizing the importance of their contributions and reinforcing trust in the workplace.
    Part 17

How to Involve and Delegate to Build Trust

One of the key ways to build trust in the workplace is by actively involving your team members and delegating tasks to them. By doing so, you demonstrate your belief in their abilities and show that you value their contributions. Involving your team members in decision-making processes and openly discussing projects can help create a sense of ownership and participation among the group. Delegating tasks effectively can be challenging, but it’s an essential skill for managers to master:

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team members. Assign tasks that align with their skills and interests, as this will increase the chances of success and create a more enjoyable work experience for the individual.
  • Clearly communicate your expectations and the desired outcome of the task. Ensure that the team member understands the importance of their role in the project.
  • Provide support and resources to help team members complete the tasks you’ve delegated to them. This might include additional training, reference materials, or access to specific tools.
  • Monitor progress without micromanaging. Trust that your team members will complete the work, but stay available to address questions or concerns.
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By giving employees the opportunity to take on new responsibilities and challenging projects, you demonstrate your confidence in their capabilities, which can lead to higher levels of trust. The practice of involving and delegating fosters an environment in which team members feel empowered and engaged in their work, creating a stronger and more trusting workplace dynamic.

Show Appreciation and Celebrate Success

Acknowledging and celebrating achievements not only motivates and encourages employees to strive for success but also fosters a supportive work culture which increases emotional trust. Consider the following approaches:

  • Public recognition: Praise employees during team meetings or company-wide events. This helps to instill a sense of pride in the individual’s accomplishments and paves the way for stronger professional relationships within the workplace.
  • Personalized messages: Send personalized emails or handwritten notes acknowledging the employee’s hard work and contribution to the team. This shows that you genuinely appreciate their efforts and recognize their value to the organization.
  • Team celebrations: Organize small-scale team events, such as lunches or after-work gatherings, to mark collective achievements. This provides an opportunity for the team to bond and enjoy their success together.
  • Mark important milestones: Celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, and other significant milestones within the workplace to create a sense of camaraderie and support among colleagues.
  • Encourage peer recognition: Implement a system that allows team members to recognize each other’s achievements, such as peer nomination awards or a recognition board. This empowers employees to celebrate and appreciate each other’s contributions

Part 18

How to Improve Trust by Sharing Knowledge

Sharing knowledge is a crucial element in building trust within a workplace. By openly sharing information, employees demonstrate transparency and a willingness to collaborate with their colleagues, which promotes a culture of trust.

One way to share knowledge is through regular team meetings, where employees can update their colleagues on their work progress, discuss challenges they face, and brainstorm solutions together. This creates an environment in which team members feel comfortable sharing their knowledge and asking for help when needed.

Another aspect of knowledge sharing is discussing and celebrating successes, as well as lessons learned from failures. When employees openly discuss their experiences and insights, they contribute to the overall growth and development of the team. This, in turn, strengthens trust among colleagues.

Here are some tips for effectively sharing knowledge in the workplace:

  • Organize workshops and training sessions to help employees develop their skills and expertise.
  • Encourage employees to attend conferences and industry events, and then share their learnings with the team.
  • Recognize and reward individuals for their contributions to knowledge sharing and team growth.


Part 20

How to Set Boundaries to Build Trust

Setting clear and well-defined boundaries can help promote trust by ensuring that employees feel respected and comfortable within their work environment.

Firstly, it’s essential for individuals to identify their boundaries, which means recognizing the need for mental, emotional, or physical limits in various situations. Encourage open discussions among team members to determine their preferences and comfort levels, allowing everyone to understand and respect each other’s boundaries.

Next, employees need to set priorities when it comes to establishing boundaries. In doing so, employees can identify their personal and professional priorities, as well as consider the priorities of their supervisors.

Maintaining boundaries is just as important as setting them. Regular check-ins and open communication can help ensure that boundaries remain respected and updated as needed. Encourage employees to voice concerns or seek clarification if needed.

Part 21

How to Navigate Tough Conversations while Building Trust

When navigating tough conversations, it is important to focus on the goal of fostering trust and creating an open, honest environment.

  • Exercise emotional intelligence: Displaying warmth and competence can help to signal good intentions and the necessary skills for handling tough conversations.
  • Acknowledge emotions: Recognizing and acknowledging negative emotions boosts emotional trust.
  • Ensure the right mindset: Make sure the person is open and in the right frame of mind to engage in a difficult conversation.
  • Stick to the facts: Avoid letting emotions take over by discussing the issue directly and objectively.
  • Use generative questions: Encourage dialogue by asking open-ended questions that foster deeper understanding and collaboration.

Taking the time to listen, communicate openly, and demonstrate vulnerability are just a few of the key steps in establishing trust. It’s also integral to honor commitments and consistently be honest with colleagues to maintain that trust. Trust takes time to build, and each small action contributes to creating an environment where team members feel they can rely on each other.

In the long run, a workplace with strong trust among employees leads to increased engagement, productivity, and retention. As a result, investing in cultivating trust within your team is not only beneficial on an interpersonal level, but it also positively impacts the overall success of your organization.