Building and Sustaining Trust in a Business

Trust. What a loaded word! Trust is one of the most fragile elements of life. If one person breaks trust, both in a professional or personal relationship, it can be a long road of recovery to build it back up again.

As George MacDonald stated: “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.”

I recently had the opportunity to work with a client on assisting with marketing company culture to its employees. A few overlying themes were incorporated in this campaign, but the one that stuck with me the most was trust. The company wanted to not only emphasize the importance of trust to its leaders but also highlight how trust has a trickle effect down to every last staff member, playing a major role in success for both individuals and the company.

A Fast Company article by Andy Atkins titled “How Leaders Build Trust” outlines the following three important components for leaders to consider when building trust:

1.Involve people in decisions that directly affect them. When a dialogue is open about the decision-making process and ideas are bounced back and forth, both leaders making the decision and those that are affected by it feel more onboard and supportive of the end result or goal.

2.Be transparent and consistent in your actions. This is key. If leaders want consistent results from their employees, their directions and reasoning must also be consistent. Atkins makes a great point in saying “we tend to focus on outcomes and ignore the process.” If transparency of operations, expectations, and policies is evident, employees will better understand the expectations that are driving the processes and results.

3.Pay attention to relationships. The stronger the relationship is between a leader and employee, the stronger results will be. This ties the first two points together nicely: employees being involved in decisions, actions being transparent and consistent, and communication being open, all leads to cultivating these relationships which build happy employees. Happy employee/manager relationships build a better organization.

Typically, trust can be underlined at the management level and stop there. However, if you look closely at the benefits of trust (just like the client mentioned above did), it’s really a partnership that needs to be developed and nurtured amongst a manager and employees. Both parties need to be held accountable.

Let’s switch the word “leader” with the word “employee” (or someone in a subordinate role) in the list above. The list can apply to both those managing and the ones being managed. Think about it – read it again with the words switched. How often do subordinates find themselves pitching new ideas to managers? Or leading projects that will be presented to managers? In many companies, these situations are quite frequent. Employees usually want to be in good standing with managers but also often want to be trusted, and made noteworthy as a capable and strong employee. When incorporating the methods above, employees can help build a trustworthy relationship with his or her management team.

We’re not all perfect. Managers make mistakes. Employees make mistakes. This is part of being human. However, having the right intention in mind and keeping this mindset as a priority, can help companies mold trustworthy managers and employees who all will be more willing to engage in the company’s success.


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