Deb Clifford

Article Summary:

How can you build trust in your workplace?

Building Trust In The Workplace

Trust & Profit
Employees who trust their senior management bring back 108% value to their share holders. On the other hand, employees who do not trust their senior executives only bring 66% back to their share holders. Once again, the numbers show that organizations can boost their profits through their people.  How?  Build trust.

 I use an exercise with many of my clients in which we come to consensus on the three top values of people in the room. I’ve done this task hundreds of times and always, always; integrity is picked, and listed first. Keep your word if you want to keep your employees.

With all the events of recent history, we understand how important trust is; but have you ever made a connection between trust and profits? The statistics show that creating a genuine and trusting environment will impact your bottom line!

Here are five behaviors to build trust in your workplace. 

Five Trust Building Behaviors

  1. Promise only when you are positive
  2. When you don’t have an answer, say so …then get one!
  3. Tell the truth, as much as you can, as fast as you can
  4. Don’t say one thing and mean another – be it!
  5. When you ask for feedback, circle back.

Promise only when you are positive
This one comes from Rudy Giuliani’s book, Leadership: Don’t make promises unless you know you can do it. Mr. Giuliani states "this rule sounds so obvious that I wouldn’t mention it unless I saw leaders break it on a regular basis".  He shares the pressure he felt, after the World Trade Center attacks, to tell the country when the airlines would be operational once again.  The motives were good – reassure the people that life would get back to normal very soon.  However, he resisted the desire to pacify the press until he knew that what he said would actually happen.  We, too, need to resist the impulse when pressed for information to release an inaccurate response.

When you don’t have an answer, say so. And then find one.
Perhaps this is another obvious behavior.  I believe that lack of confidence is the main culprit when we guess, or fake, an answer rather than admit we do not know.  In today’s workplace, fear of being perceived as inadequate is understandable.  We want to be known as the ‘go to’ person.  Believe me, no one is going to ‘go to’ you if you give unreliable answers rather than admitting you don’t know.  Build trust.  Go get that answer.  Follow through.  Then you’ll be the go to person.

Tell the truth as much as you can and as fast as you can. 
Due to your leadership position, you might not be able to tell folks everything. Say as much as you can.  Deliver the information, even if the statement is "I won’t know until tomorrow".  Let employees know you are concerned about informing them.  This step is half the battle.  Then, as soon as you know something, inform rapidly.  The longer you wait to communicate, the more time fear has to creep in and fill in the communication void with rumors. 

Don’t say one thing and mean another.
Be it.  Walk the talk.  Do what you tell others to do.  It is very important that you live the values you are articulating, because people can see right through it when you don’t.  Sometimes you plan to walk the talk, yet processes or systems within the organization undermine your intentions.  Check your policies to ensure they comply with the values you set forth.  Don’t allow antiquated or unexamined procedures to erode trust in your workplace.

When you ask for feedback, circle back.
If you aren’t going to tell me what you did with my feedback, then don’t bother asking me.  Please!  It is very discouraging to be given the impression that your thoughts count, only to find they have disappeared into a giant black hole.  Circle back at the next meeting. Or, generate an e-mail to let folks know the results of the feedback session.  People can accept that their idea was not implemented.  It is more important to know that the idea was understood and considered.

Deb Clifford is an internationally recognized business leader who for the past twenty-six years has worked with organizations of all sizes, building confident and capable leaders. In 1999, she founded Inspired People. Deb brings her powerful message and successful programs to Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, and associations. Creator of the PEPTM program used throughout New England, she brings her leadership and team development expertise and contagious enthusiasm to organizations. Her focus is to help participants harness the power of people effectiveness so the company can boost their profits through their people. For more information, visit

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