Creating a High Trust Culture at Work- 6 Behaviors to Inspire Trust 

Red and Blue Square Knot

You inspire trust from others when you practice these six behaviors.


Recently while perusing the book shelves at Barnes and Noble, a favorite pastime of mine, I noticed that there were many books on trust and its impact on business.

Doing a search on Amazon on the issue of trust and business provides you a long list of books as well and it got me thinking.  In business and in our private lives, trust matters.

So why is it that people that lead organizations and run businesses forget that?

I, myself, have left organizations I was affiliated with simply because trust was not there anymore.

People have quit jobs when they felt they could no longer trust their bosses. Consumers have stopped purchasing items when the trust was lost. Just a few years ago, Netflix lost a huge amount of subscriptions simply because people felt they had violated their trust by changing prices without notice.

Forbes published at least 7 Reasons Employees Don’t Trust Their Leaders and Harvard Business Review published an article on The High Cost of Lost Trust.

Stephen Covey in the book The Speed of Trust, reminds us that trust impacts both speed and cost.

When people trust, things get done faster and cost decrease meaning there is progress in your business.

When people don’t trust, things get done at a slower pace usually because they are fighting, arguing, complaining, disengaging, or looking for another job or leaving meaning your business has to take time recruiting new people, onboarding them and trying to retain them.

Why should this matter to all businesses?

Because you don’t have the time or the capital to keep replacing people at work.

The reality is that healthy people leave unhealthy cultures.

Unhealthy cultures are low trust environments. Healthy people prefer and are used to working in higher trust relationships. If you hire a person who operates on trust and put them in a low trust culture, they will either adapt (very unlikely but happens when they need the job with no other prospects) or they leave.

Trust is fragile.

Like a piece of china, once cracked it is never quite the same. And people’s trust in business, and those who lead it, is getting lower every year.  People either trust you, or they don’t, and there is very rarely any middle ground.

Drs. Dennis and Michelle Reina, best-selling business authors of Rebuilding Trust in the Workplace: Seven Steps to Renew Confidence, Commitment and Energy and Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace mention that the following behaviors have been found to be the top trust-breakers in the workplace.

These are the top trust-breakers:

  • Covering up mistakes
  • Gossiping
  • Hoarding information
  • Leaking confidential information
  • Micro-managing
  • Sending mixed messages
  • Shooting the messenger
  • Shutting down others’ ideas
  • Taking credit for others’ work
  • Throwing others under the bus

So how can you as a leader create a higher trust culture in your business?  It’s really quite simple.

Care enough to want to!

You inspire trust from others when you practice these 6 behaviors:

1.   Keep your word.

To build trust, you need to do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you are going to do it, long after the feeling or desire to do it has left you.

2.   Be about your people’s success.

When people feel that their leader truly cares about and supports their success, they will go out of their way to ensure their leader is successful as well.

3.   Give away the credit… claim the blame.

If there are wins, praise the team. If there are failures, step up to the plate and boldly state, “I take responsibility for ensuring this problem doesn’t happen again.”

Nothing looks worse than a leader blaming other people. That is NEVER a good look for a leader!

4.   Tell the truth. Always.

This is so easy and obvious to say, but it is much harder to do on a daily basis. Why?

Because most people want to be liked and that means avoiding conflict. However, honestly communicating bad news, and sharing a vision and path to success, is one of the fastest ways to rebuild trust.

5.   Be vulnerable.

People find it easier to trust you when you are transparent.

When you have the ability to say, “I don’t know the answer,” or, “I might be wrong,” or, “I made a mistake and I am glad you covered for me,” people know that you are human. People who have a high need to defend themselves, blame others or worse fire people so they can blame them later for what they did wrong instead of admitting their mistake are not trusted.

6.   Ask for feedback.

No one is perfect. Most people know that so let people know that you know you may have done or said something that eroded their trust level in you.

Ask people for honest feedback on which actions you are taking that are working well for the team, and what people think you could do differently to be an even stronger leader. The worse thing you can do is shut someone down for trying to help you with their feedback.

Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time.

If you want to build trust you have to be intentional about it across the organization. A trusting workplace affords employees a comfortable environment for open communication, risk-taking, innovation, and achievement. If your people don’t have trust inside your company, then they can’t transfer it to your customers.

Creating a high trust culture at work will be one the best things you do for your business! It’s a new year…get to it!

Related articles:

10 Ways Business Leaders Can Build Trust

Are Relationships Vital To Business Growth?

Good Leaders Tap Into Emotional Intelligence 


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