Avoid Trust Breakers

Avoid Trust Breakers

April 26, 2023


Have you ever noticed it takes a lot longer to build something than to tear it down? It’s true whether we’re talking about buildings or about relationships. Sometimes it takes longer to rebuild something that has been destroyed than it took to build in the first place.

That’s certainly true when it comes to trust.

Trust within the workplace is not automatic. The team does not trust you just because you are the leader. In fact, it might be just the opposite. Employees may be wary or outright distrustful when they come into the workplace.

Trust is built over time with consistent behaviors that prove you can be counted upon to deliver what you promise. Team members want to know that you are as concerned with their welfare and success as you are with your own.

It’s important to build up a significant “trust account” so that you can withstand the occasional mistake or moment of inattention. Some things can make a major dent in your trust balance, leaving you with an uphill climb to restore the trust that is so essential for business success.

To keep your trust balance healthy, avoid these Trust Breakers:

  • Breaking Promises – Nothing destroys trust as quickly as a failure to keep your promises, particularly if that failure occurs without an apology or explanation. Make promises carefully and advise your team early if it looks as though you may fall short on what you promised.
  • Shifting Blame – A workplace that runs on shame and blame is not well-positioned to be successful. A good rule of thumb for building trust is for the leader to share credit and shoulder blame. Of course, there are times when team members will share a portion of the responsibility for a problem or mistake, but ultimately the buck stops with the boss.
  • Concealing Information – In business, there are very few good surprises. Be honest and transparent about what’s going on in the business, especially if a change is looming. In the absence of information, people will fill in the blanks, often with inaccurate or unfavorable results. Your team is more likely to manage change if they can react to what is real, rather than to what they imagine.
  • Preferential Treatment – Fairness and equitable treatment is a significant factor in employee retention and satisfaction. Create consistent and reasonable expectations and communicate them clearly. When expectations are not met, be sure that consequences are evenly applied to all responsible.
  • Micromanagement – Trust is a reciprocal commodity. It’s hard to trust someone if you don’t feel that they trust you. If you micromanage an employee, you send a message that they are not trusted to do their job. This damages morale and can ultimately damage performance as well. Assist when necessary and make sure you create a culture where it’s okay for people to ask for help.

When any of these trust breaking behaviors occurs repeatedly or if a single incident is significant enough, you can quickly destroy the trust that you built so carefully over time. While broken trust can be rebuilt, it’s easier to maintain trust once it’s built than it is to restore it once it’s broken.

Keep building – and maintaining – trust. You’ll also be building success.




Chris Ann Williams, CEO