How To Build More Trust With Employees

We've all heard that trust is a two-way street. What's one way leaders can build a two-way relationship of trust with their employees?

To help business owners build a two-way relationship of trust with their employees, we asked business leaders and HR experts this question for their best tips. From making promises you can keep to creating a shared vision, there are several ways to help you build a two-way relationship of trust with your employees.

Here are 15 ways leaders can build a two-way relationship of trust with their employees: 

  • Involve Them In The Hiring Process
  • Make Promises That You Can Keep
  • Involve Them In Ideation
  • Create A Space For Open And Honest Conversation
  • Hire An Operations Manager
  • Express Gratitude Authentically, And Often
  • Share Personal Stories
  • Create A Shared Vision
  • Be A Mentor
  • Balance Freedom With Responsibility
  • Lead With A Spirit Of Partnership
  • Be Vulnerable
  • Base Success Off Of Deliverables, Not Presence
  • Offer Training Programs
  • Communicate Regularly

Involve Them In The Hiring Process

Involve employees in the hiring process – especially for executive-level positions. Providing employees with a say in who their future managers are will help establish a level of trust between leadership and employees. Employees can get involved in the hiring process by participating in an interview or being involved in a candidate meet and greet event. Getting candidate buy-in from team members helps attract the right people while increasing levels of trust throughout the organization. 

Jon Schneider, Recruiterie 


Make Promises That You Can Keep

Trust is the consequence of promises fulfilled! When a leader says they are going to do something, it is so important that they follow through or communicate a change of plans, in order to create trust with their team members. Since trust is a two-way street, it is just as important for team members to fulfill their promises to leaders as well. When both leaders and team members know that if someone says they will do something, they will follow through or communicate, the trust will flow easily.

Bob Newstrom, Arrow Lift 


Involve Them In Ideation

Involve employees in the ideation process. Good ideas can come from anywhere, whether that’s a call center or the C-suite. By ensuring that the flow of ideas can be a two-way street, the relationship between employees and their employer can grow that much stronger. 

Randall Smalley, Cruise America


Create A Space For Open And Honest Conversation

The key to building trust within your employees is to take the time to meet with them and create a space for open and honest conversations. Whether this is in a quarterly review or through regular team meetings, you need to make it a priority! More importantly, when you are given insights that don’t line up with your own, don’t get defensive. Dig deeper to see their perspective so your employees know their voice matters.

Blake Murphey, American Pipeline Solutions


Hire An Operations Manager 

The quickest way to destroy trust with employees is to not deliver on a promise and let the little things fall through the cracks. If your business can afford to – and even if it can’t – consider hiring an operations manager to serve as a buffer between leadership and employees. By hiring someone to be responsible around areas like accountability and operations, leadership can better focus on delivering on the big objectives and earn employee trust through collective success. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors


Express Gratitude Authentically, And Often

Like any relationship, by regularly paying compliments and gratitude for the other person, you invest in trust over time. By consistently recognizing their small and large contributions to the company mission, they will feel more fulfilled and connect to the company cause. Your mission is accomplished by the team when everyone works together and applies their skills and abilities. As gratitude is expressed as part of the culture, your team will step up when that occasional last-minute project occurs because they know the extra effort is appreciated.

Mark Jamnik, Enjoy Life Daily


Share Personal Stories

There are two primary types of trust; one is competency-based trust, and the second is benevolence-based trust. If a leader is looking to build competency-based trust with their team, the best way to do that is to do what you say you’ll do — always follow through. And, if you fail to follow through on something, admit your mistake and own it — be transparent — your team will appreciate it. Building benevolence-based trust requires a different approach, one that leans into our shared sense of vulnerability and humanness. A great way to build this type of trust is to share personal stories or moments from your life. These types of story-sharing experiences will help your team see the real you and help them connect with you as a person. And, take a sincere interest in the personal stories and moments from your teams' lives — they will appreciate it. As famous psychologist Carl Rogers says, “that which is deeply personal is the most universal.”

Brian Mohr, anthym


Create A Shared Vision

One of the most effective ways that leaders can gain trust from their employees is by creating a shared vision of what will drive the company and then include employees in decision-making and ensuring that their voices are heard. Back and forth communication is a must to drive this relationship of trust and this, in turn, will also lead to increased development for all employees as well. All the while this “relationship” must be accomplished while adhering to defined ethical values and predetermined rules and guidelines.

Ronald Kubitz, Forms+Surfaces


Be A Mentor

When you step into the shoes of a leader, you’ll become much more than someone who will simply assign tasks and projects, and call an employee into your office when there’s been an “incident.” To build real trust with your team, you’ll need to be a mentor — even before a leader. If your employees can not only learn by example, but also by your instruction, then you\'ll quickly see a huge shift in productivity. Employees will always do their best for a leader that they not only trust but also respect. And the best way to gain that level of respect is to share your knowledge.

Heidi Robinson, Because Market


Balance Freedom With Responsibility

I believe that building trust in the relationship between the employer and the employee is based on balancing freedom with responsibility. Increased work flexibility should be paired with an adequate approach to meeting goals and maintaining high performance. Such a sustainable and gradual assumption of one's ownership over their responsibilities fosters a bilaterally beneficial relationship.

Michael Sena, Senacea


Lead With A Spirit Of Partnership

Each person on the team has a strength that complements what the leader has or makes up for what the leader may be lacking. Likewise, there are strengths and experiences the leader brings to the team that can benefit each person, too. Inasmuch as “the buck stops here” in leadership, moving towards mutual success is a shared responsibility between the leader and the team.

Parissa Behnia, Sixense


Be Vulnerable

Building healthy, trusting relationships requires a willingness to be open and vulnerable yourself. This can be very difficult for those in leadership roles who feel they need to always be the rock of calm and stability for the entire company, but demonstrating humanity and empathy is critical to team health. The moments I was willing to show what I felt at the time was a weakness in front of my company were actually what cemented the connections with my teams and enabled them to share their own vulnerabilities with me and each other.

Scott Elser, The Traction Hub


Base Success Off Of Deliverables, Not Presence

One way leaders can build trust with their employees is by creating a culture that bases success on deliverables, not presence. Too often, managers think someone is only productive if they see them working in the office between 9 am and 5 pm – even if that schedule isn’t conducive to that person’s success. By offering flexible work schedules and remote work opportunities, you begin to build trust by showing employees that you trust them to get their work done, even if you aren’t there to monitor it.

Eric Mochnacz, Red Clover


Offer Training Programs 

With all the changes in the past year, companies have had to adapt their training programs to help employees transition to new norms and be aware of new issues like cyber threats online. These training programs are a great opportunity for leaders to build trust with their employees. By making training fun, and by investing in the right programs, leaders can better establish a safe foundation for their organizations. Only when safety is established can trust take place, and that doesn’t happen overnight. 

Nick Santora, Curricula 


Communicate Regularly 

Leaders can establish a foundation of trust with employees by acting with honesty, integrity, and respect, inside and outside of the workplace. Trusted leaders have the ability to express empathy and appreciation and inspire employees, especially during times of unprecedented changes. Trusted leaders also communicate regularly with employees about what the organization is doing to ensure a respectful, inclusive workplace that is free of discrimination, sexual harassment, and other misconduct.

Andrew Rawson, Traliant

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