C-Suite Advisory

Does Your Team Trust You?

Rhett Power

Trust is the foundation for success in any organization. If your employees don’t feel safe speaking up or feel like important company information is being withheld, they are more likely to leave. This article discusses strategies on how to create a culture of trust in your workplace.

Just how much trust are employees putting in their employers? Quite a bit. According to a recent Edelman Trust Barometer report, 77% of workers claimed they trusted their direct managers and 71% said the same thing about their head executive. A PwC U.S. Business Survey came back with similar figures, with 80% of workers saying that the pandemic and post-pandemic experiences haven’t shaken their trust in their employers.

Those numbers bode well for bosses. They also show just how much power companies have in the eyes of their team members. A business that can keep trust levels strong across its workforce is bound to hang onto a competitive edge. A business that loses trust may risk losing everything.

So how can you ensure that you keep the trust spigot flowing in your organization? Below are a few suggestions that may help. Putting these tips into action will help you create an atmosphere of trust where everyone feels like they have a voice.

  1. Look for ways to measure trust.
    Remember the saying, “you can’t improve what you don’t measure?” You must find objective ways to assess trust. Otherwise, you’ll end up relying on your gut to tell you if your people trust you. And your gut is always prone to being subjective, whether you realize it or not.

    A simple way to begin measuring the trust levels at your company is with surveys. Employee satisfaction surveys allow you to put a number to how trustworthy your workers see you or the business as a whole, giving you a foundation to work from. For instance, you might track employee engagement rates, which Gallup notes is hovering around 32% on average. Engagement and trust frequently go hand-in-hand, so a bump in engagement could indicate a bump in trust.

    In addition to sending out surveys, you can get feedback through town halls and other open forums, too. Large group meetings, whether in person or virtual, can give you the chance to take your employees’ collective pulse. These events give people a chance to find out what’s happening and ask questions of leaders, too. Just make sure you’re ready to answer honestly — otherwise, you could cause a trust cascade failure.

  2. Be 100% transparent. No exceptions.
    It’s going to be hard for employees to trust you if you continuously shield them from the right information. Certainly, most workers understand that you may be privy to some data and insights that you must keep under wraps. However, you can probably let your employees in on more than you think — and they will thank you for it!

    In a piece on earning customers’ trust, Christine Alemany, advisor at TBGA, explains that half-truths can be almost worse than full-on omissions. In her experience as an entrepreneur and marketer, omission “is akin to lying.” And if you fail? Be bold and honest. “Being vulnerable about where you have fallen short in the past suggests honesty,” she writes, “which sits at the foundation of consumer trust, brand affinity, and long-term engagement.”

    The next time you’re tempted to withhold information, ask yourself why. Is it out of necessity or legality, as in the case of a signed and sealed non-disclosure agreement? Or is it simply out of habit? If it’s the latter, you may be keeping too many secrets, which can create a trust barrier between you and your employees.

  3. Switch up your tone to promote psychological safety.
    A psychologically unsafe corporate culture will never be one that fosters trust. Never. For people to trust one another, they need to feel that they won’t be treated poorly by speaking their minds, owning up to an error, or proposing a new idea. So how do you build a psychologically safe climate? McKinsey research recommends that you put a premium on positivity in all its forms.

    For example, you might want to learn how to adopt the right tone and use the best words to get your thoughts across to your team members. Tone and language can play a huge role in how announcements, responses, and sentiments are received. We’ve all misinterpreted the meaning of an email or text that sounded terse but wasn’t meant to be anything but factual and quick. Awareness of how to speak to others appropriately can increase trust.

    As you begin to make inroads in your speaking patterns and habits, consider sharing your findings with your downstream managers. That way, you can produce a trust “ripple effect” throughout the whole organization.

Does your team trust you? Maybe, but maybe not as much as you’d like. Fortunately, you now have some proven strategies to prioritize a culture of trust in your workplace. When trust is strong, you’re able to innovate more readily, enjoy less churn, and blow past your industry competitors.


Written by Rhett Power.
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Rhett Power
Rhett Power is responsible for helping corporate leadership take the actions needed to drive impact and courage in their teams that will improve organizational performance. He is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful (McGraw-Hill Education) and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award-winning start-up toy company. After a successful exit from the toy company, Rhett was named the best Small Business Coach in the United States. In 2019 he joined the prestigious Marshall Goldsmith's 100 Coaches and was named the #1 Thought Leader on Entrepreneurship by Thinkers360. He is a Fellow at The Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. He travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship and management alongside the likes of former Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and AOL Founder Steve Case. Rhett Power is an acclaimed author, leader, entrepreneur and an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.