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The 6 Pillars to Building Trust in the Workplace

Posted by CLIMB Professional Development and Training on June 23, 2017


Updated April 10, 2023

Those looking to motivate their workplace teams, instill confidence, and increase productivity often find that the missing ingredient is a culture of trust among their employees. Without trust in the workplace, workers are simply doing a job with little emotional investment rather than being a complete team with different parts working together for the organization's greater good.  

Here, we look at establishing trust in the workplace by demonstrating and incorporating these six pillars into your workplace culture.

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Pillar 1: Honesty in All Aspects of Work 

When employees face less than transparent leadership, they often do not understand the necessity of specific tasks. That leads to less buy-in for new projects designed to increase productivity and thrive in a competitive business environment. Company leaders should be open and transparent in their dealings with employees while remembering the importance of giving credit to the employees for jobs done right. Doing so helps create a positive culture that empowers workers to own up to their mistakes and work together to effect positive changes in the work environment. 

Pillar 2: Consistency and Accountability 

Workplace leaders can also build a culture of trust by being consistent and accountable in their dealings with employees. They keep the promises made to workers and hold to their decisions, even if their team is less than enthusiastic about the changes occurring. It is important to remember that honesty often begets honesty, meaning that workers within a workplace culture of trust who see their leaders being consistent and accountable with the team are likelier to demonstrate consistent and accountable behaviors. 

Pillar 3: Reinforcing Trust with Body Language 

There is an adage never to trust someone who won't look you in the eye. You can reinforce trust among workers through body language by providing visual cues to develop trust: 

  • Maintaining regular eye contact while conversing with workers and customers. 
  • Smile often to indicate that an employee is welcome to participate in the conversation. 
  • Leaning slightly forward to further show interest and engagement in the worker's words. 
  • Shaking hands. While the handshake seems to be a fading institution in the business world, it remains one of the fastest and most effective ways to establish rapport. 

Using "active gesturing" (also known as talking with your hands) generates positive emotions from others. It conveys energy and warmth that they can connect to far more than someone standing woodenly before them. Leaders whose hands are hidden or are hanging limply at their sides get viewed as cold or disengaged from the subject they're speaking about. 

Pillar 4: Having a Good Attitude 

Attitudes are often contagious in the workplace. When the leaders of an organization appear unwilling to trust their workers or to understand their needs, they generally run an unmotivated team that doesn't feel confident in sharing ideas or asking for help. Whereas leaders who approach their job with energy, purpose, and the desire to help each team member have a role in the company's success find a team that feels confident, supported, and ready to participate. 

Pillar 5: Using Good Judgment 

Using good judgment as an organizational leader means using the most accurate information to make the best decisions for the team. That involves listening to team members' input and being open to their ideas, carefully considering those ideas, and ensuring workers are on board with proposed changes rather than making a snap judgment based on opinion and with little regard to the input of those tasked with carrying out the decision. 

Pillar 6: Having Clear Expectations 

When employees are uncertain as to the expectations of their job, they are simply taking a shot in the dark without knowing if their efforts will pay off or even matter to the big picture. Building trust in the workplace relies on the ability of the organization's leaders to provide clear expectations of each worker, keeping these expectations attainable and realistic.  

The objectives of the worker's job should be clear to them. Employees should have the opportunity to receive a regular performance review to ensure they're meeting workplace expectations. They should also have a voice in setting new expectations and expressing the need for assistance in achieving workplace goals. 

The Importance of Trust in the Workplace 

Instilling trust in the workplace has many benefits. Employees who trust their team leaders and peers are more likely to own up to their mistakes, feel confident in making decisions, and make suggestions to improve the workplace. They feel secure in their job and proud of their company's success. They are more engaged with the company workflow, leading to better quality work and reducing employee turnover. 

For more information on establishing trust in the workplace and obtaining the skills you need to take your organization to the next level, reach out to Portland Community College. 



Topics: Professional Development, Management

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