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How to Build Trust at Work

Trust is an essential component of effective organizations. Trust in the workplace is directly linked to increased productivity, morale, and commitment. It’s essential for building and maintaining workplace relationships, and it’s essential for collaboration and success.

Trust is critical to build the relationships we need to be successful, both professionally and personally. Work—like other aspects of our lives—is a social system. We don’t do everything ourselves. We need other people to succeed, and that’s where trust comes in. 

Every day, we trust other people to do what they are supposed to do, to hold up their end of the bargain, so to speak. We rely on the mail to get delivered, the office to get cleaned, the network to work properly, the paperwork to be filed on time, etc. Trust is all around us, every day, and yet we don’t really consider how important it is.

Trust means relying on other people. It means having faith that people are going to do what they are supposed to do. Even though trust is all around us, every day, it isn’t something that just happens. Building trust takes time and effort, and it’s a two-way street. You want to become a trustworthy person, and you also want to be able to trust others.

Here are five steps to build and improve trust at work:

  1. Think about your capacity to trust.How willing are you to trust others? Do you have to do everything yourself because you don’t trust anyone else? If you are not willing to trust others they will not be willing to trust you. So, start at a place of trust, and work from there.
  1. Have competency trust in others.If you want to increase trust in the workplace you have to increase your trust in the competence of others. That means that you cannot micromanage people. You have to let them do their work. You have to trust their ability. If you are a manager, you have to trust that you have given clear directions. Let people do their work without micromanaging them. 
  1. Engage in contractual trust.This means do what you say you are going to do. You have to hold up your end of the bargain. When you say you will do something, treat it like a contract, and do what you say.

By the same token, don’t set yourself up for failure; you have to be honest and manage other people’s expectations. Don’t just give a blanket “yes,” for example. Be sure you know what they expect and then make sure you tell them when and how you will deliver. Manage their expectations, otherwise you won’t build trust.

  1. Trust through communication.In order to build trust you have to be a good communicator. You have to be willing to share information, tell the truth, admit mistakes, speak with good purpose about others, and not betray confidences. There is no room for gossip when you are trying to build trust. Trustworthy people do not gossip. Speak to good purpose. Build trust through effective, honest communication.
  1. Save room for repairs.It is inevitable that a trust will be breached. We are all human, after all. When you breach someone’s trust you probably won’t even know it. If someone has betrayed your trust, you have to tell them, and then give them a chance to repair it. And if you have betrayed someone else’s trust, ask how you can repair it and work hard to do so.

Trust is essential for success. If you don’t trust others, and they don’t trust you, you won’t be successful in the workplace, or any place. But trust can be built through honesty, open communication, managing the expectations of others, and doing what you say you will. Good luck!

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