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Trust In The Workplace: How Team Leaders Can Build Trust With Employees

Updated: Apr 5

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Trust is essential for forming all kinds of relationships. Not only is trust important in your personal life, but it’s also incredibly important in the workplace.

If you’re a CEO, business owner, team lead, or whatever your role is, having team members that can trust and rely on you will help the success of your business.

Retaining long-term employees, growing your business, and building your brand is difficult to achieve without trust.

In this article, Tabetha Sheaver will share some effective tactics company leaders can implement to form a kinship with their employees, thus leading to trust and company success!

What Trust Looks Like In The Workplace

Building trust in the workplace doesn’t happen overnight; it’s something that takes time to earn. Creating trust at work starts with leadership, and then it takes involvement at every level in the office to create bonds between employees and leadership. The number one thing leaders can do to begin building trust is to align their words with their actions. Employees are less likely to feel committed to the company when there is a disconnect between what leadership is saying and doing.

Organizations that commit time to build trust with employees and actively work towards creating a safe and secure office environment have stronger employee retention rates and happier offices.

Trust takes on many forms in the workplace:

  • Employees can have a sense of security at work and in their position.

  • Feeling respected.

  • Employee Engagement.

  • Having reliable employees and leadership

  • Prioritizing trust can help employers build a diverse and inclusive office culture.

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How To Build Trust As A Leader

With workers leaving their jobs at an all-time high, it’s clear that employee needs are not satisfied. As an employer, this is an opportunity to create an office environment built on trust.

Micromanagement from leaders is a sign that they fear their team members don’t know how to do their job, so they need to step in and “help” while the leader thinks they’re being helpful, creating a schism between them and the team members. Productivity drops because employees feel they can’t be trusted to do their job or stop contributing because of a fear of rejection from their boss.

As a leader, how do you build trust amongst your employees? Trust is built over time but can break in a matter of minutes. Here are some simple, authentic ways to build trust between you and your employees.

  • Follow through on promises.

  • Admit to mistakes

  • Vocally showing support for your team

  • Being authentic

  • Showing interest in getting to know your team members

office culture and leadership

Follow Through On Promises

Effective leadership is following through on promises made. Following through on promises is aligning your words with your actions. Leaders who promise, then underdeliver are seen as unpredictable and not trustworthy. While your heart might be in the right place, promising an employee something down the road, then not being able to fulfill it, like a promotion, raise, or the promise of hiring more employees for role support, will lead to dissatisfaction and ultimately leaving the organization.

Admit To Mistakes

Mistakes are an inevitable part of life and work. Team members will mess up from time to time, and as leaders, so will you! Just because you dropped the ball doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a leader, but that you made an error, and error is human. What does matter is being able to admit to the mistake you made. Admitting to mistakes and owning errors builds trust, and employees will see you as human. But employees lose trust when someone in power can’t admit to their mistakes and then shift blame.

Leaders who get back up after falling and instruct team members on how to grow from failure remove perfectionist attitudes that can hinder growth.

Actively Listen

Sure, you’re listening to your employees, but do you genuinely listen to them? As an employer, you need to listen to your employees actively. Your team is made up of unique people who have their viewpoints and ideas. When you’re in a meeting with your team, ask them to elaborate on their thoughts and ideas, so you can truly understand where they are coming from. A way to improve active listening skills is to set up 1-on-1 meetings with team members. These meetings give the employee a chance to give feedback and discuss their work experience and struggles. Remember to listen to what your employee is telling you and respond to negative and positive feedback.

Vocally Show Support & Appreciation For Your Team

Employees like to know their hard work is appreciated. Employees who don’t feel valued and appreciated will begin to disconnect from their work and the company. To combat this, team leaders should give more compliments and praise to their team members after working on a project. People like to know that their work is appreciated. It can be as simple as calling an employee and saying “thank you” and pointing out something you liked in their work.

When leaders/employers get into the habit of showing gratitude, it positively impacts the workplace. Witnessing outward appreciation and gratitude become contagious, and more employees will start expressing gratitude to the other team members–relationships at work will improve, and the quality of work will increase.

Set Employee Expectations

People can only know what they’re told. As a leader, you’re responsible for setting and managing workplace expectations. Giving new hires a copy of their job description, establishing guidelines, and setting expectations for each project. By clarifying employee expectations, you limit misunderstandings, conflict, and what will be tolerated at work.

Some effective ways to establish expectations and boundaries with employees are:

  • During employee onboarding, define and establish expectations.

  • Develop methods and procedures for submitting work.

  • Have quarterly meetings with individual employees to ensure expectations are being met.

tabetha sheaver builds better businesses and trust

Building Trust Takes Time

Trust is built in leaders who stick by their employees. Leaders don’t just show up for the good times. They stand by their employees during the good and the bad times and lead their team members through the turmoil.

It takes time to build the trust of your employees, and it’s not a simple 2-step approach. It’s showing up for team members, speaking up when things don’t feel right, practicing gratitude, having uncomfortable conversations, and not avoiding problems.

When employees trust their leaders and leaders have faith in their employees–anything is possible!

Tabetha Sheaver works closely with entrepreneurs, CEOs, and high-level executives to implement new routines and practices that work! Through the Entrepreneurial Operating System, Tabetha finds ways to get teams on the same page as their leader. When teams work with a strategist like Tabetha, your days at work will become smoother, meetings will be more productive, and team happiness and success will increase.


Tabetha Sheaver is a CEO, executive coaching specialist, project management professional (PMI), and an award-winning business success partner. She helps CEOs regain control of their companies with organizational change management strategies. While helping entrepreneurial leadership teams to be open, honest, and healthy, Tabetha’s experience and insight have made her an in-demand public speaker and presenter nationwide.


Tabetha Sheaver

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