12 tips for building trust in the workplace

According to the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey, 25% of American workers say they don’t trust their employer and only half say their employer is open and upfront with them. Not only does this hurt the morale and motivation of the employee, it is incredibly damaging to the profitability of the organization.

For example, the Watson Wyatt Worldwide Study found that “organizations in which front-line employees trusted senior leadership posted a 42 percent higher return on shareholder investment than those firms in which distrust was the norm.” Distrust creates a barrier that blocks the valuable flow of insights, ideas, and feedback that can make a workplace more efficient, collaborative, and innovative.

When managers build trust and care about their people, they empower their people to fulfill their true potential. Here are some ways to build trust in your employees:

  1. Give credit to the ideas, talents, and contributions of others whenever possible.
  2. Freely communicate information to contribute to the greater good; don’t competitively hoard it.
  3. Have clear expectations. Communicate what success looks like and how people will be evaluated.
  4. Don’t make people wait for you. Call people on time or be there when you say you will.
  5. Give people the resources and training they need to do their jobs well. Set them up for success.
  6. Give people opportunities to continue to learn and grow.
  7. Don’t blame. Instead, focus on how to prevent the issue in the future.
  8. Don’t micromanage. Give people responsibility and authority to take action when possible.
  9. Provide constant feedback on performance — what people are doing well, their strengths, how they can use their strengths more often, and how to manage their weaknesses.
  10. Sincerely ask for feedback. Make it clear you know you are not perfect and are open to ideas from others — no repercussions.
  11. Be humble. Admit when you are wrong, and ask for help when you need it.
  12. Don’t waste your people’s time with meetings that start late, projects that go nowhere, or reports that are filed without review or consideration.



When people trust their managers, leaders, and bosses, they are more motivated to share their ideas and feedback. Can your company afford to get only a small percentage of the resources and talents that your people could be bringing to work?

Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is the founder of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations fulfill their true potential using strategies from the science of positive psychology.