top of page
  • Forbes Coaches Council

15 Ways To Build A Two-Way Relationship Of Trust With Employees

Originally Published on Forbes

Written By: Forbes Coaches Council

Mutual trust is one of the most important elements of a successful team. Employees who feel trusted by their manager also feel valued and important, and often go above and beyond to support the organization's goals. By the same token, if employees have faith in their manager, they'll always feel like decisions are made in the team's best interest.

Of course, trust is not a given. It's something that must be actively developed and maintained, and that can be easier said than done. We asked 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council to share their advice for building a two-way relationship of trust with your employees.

1. Ask Open-Ended Questions Without Assuming The Answers

When talking with a team member, try to leave your assumptions at the door. Instead of assuming you know how they are doing or where they are on a project, ask a big, open-ended question. "What's going on for you right now?" "What's your biggest opportunity" "What are you excited about?" Instead of making the narrative about you, make it about them. - Marcy Schwab, Inspired Leadership

2. Be Vulnerable

Vulnerability is a fundamental way to establish credibility and trust. Sharing parts of ourselves is a risk, and permits others to know and begin to trust us. One quick way to do this is starting a meeting with an icebreaker. Share a story from your life that shows you as vulnerable -- for example, the craziest thing you did as a teenager that you are willing to share. - Denise King Gillingham, DKG Coaching

3. Watch Your Body Language And Nonverbal Cues

We often forget that more than 50% of communication is nonverbal. Building trust has an important nonverbal element. Are our nonverbals projecting warmth and openness? Visible hands, an open body posture, a genuine smile and a social gaze can all build up trust. Too often, we focus only on the words we will use in a conversation and not on the message our nonverbals are saying. - Irvine Nugent, Ph.D., Irvine Nugent & Associates

4. Prioritize Fairness And Honesty

Your employees don't expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to be fair. A large part of fairness is honesty. When a person knows that you're going to be straightforward with them, that person will move mountains for you. Instead of feeling isolated when the consequences of negative environmental factors begin to manifest, you'll all be in it together. Honesty is the best policy. - Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell, Leading Through Living Community

5. Put Yourself In Your Employees' Shoes

Employees want to belong and they want to be seen. Engage in the practice of stepping into someone else's shoes. Imagine yourself as the other person listening to you. What does this person see, hear? Practice this once a day and you'll be amazed at what you'll learn about how you're perceived by others and what you need to do differently to initiate trust. - Sharon Spano, Spano & Company, Inc.

6. Always Fulfill Your Promises

Trust is the consequence of promises fulfilled. Make explicit promises, even small ones, and then fulfill them. This can be on small things ("I'll have that report to you on Thursday morning.") or something bigger: "At your last performance review, I said that you needed to meet these benchmarks to be promoted. You have met those benchmarks, and I have put in for your promotion." - Helio Fred Garcia, Logos Consulting Group

7. Be Present And In The Moment

Be here now. Trust is built by demonstrating respect, illustrating to people that you value them. In this fast-paced, stressful world, we try to multi-task. We look at our phones when sitting right in front of another person. We miss details. And we send messages, conscious and unconscious, that they are not valued. If we want people to trust us, we need to put them front and center. - Brad Federman, F&H Solutions Group

8. Tell The Hard Truths (And Encourage Others To Do The Same)

Support a culture where telling the "hard truth" is acceptable and actually encouraged. Too many organizations keep doing the same things because nobody is encouraged to say, "this isn't working" for employees or customers. If leaders can do this, then they also invite that kind of dialogue with their team members. Focus on the outcomes for success for employees and customers! - Jeannie Walters, 360Connext

9. Listen More Than You Speak

Managers who make listening and inquiry a priority are more likely to establish mutual trust. Managers should think about turning half of their statements into neutral, thought-provoking questions. Further, managers who ask for feedback and provide feedback on a regular basis create not only an environment of mutual trust, but help make work a place of growth and development. - Renelle Darr, InSight Coaching & Consulting

10. Keep Your Ego In Check

The greatest killer of trust is ego. If leaders and managers want to build more trust with employees, they must learn to tame their egos; subordinate them to causes and journeys that promote well-being and prosperity for both managers and employees, not just the former. Finally, managers must migrate from "I" power to "We" power. Then trust will follow. - Gaurav Bhalla, Knowledge Kinetics

11. Hone Your Emotional Intelligence

Continuously work on your emotional intelligence levels to identify reasons for emotions and behaviors, and intentionally show interest in an employee's well being and personal needs. Showing authentic empathy is a bonus. People are more likely to trust you when they feel like you genuinely care about them. All of this begins with a willingness to actively listen. - Gina Trimarco, Pivot10 Results

12. Say 'Thank You'

Timely, specific and honest acknowledgment of individual or team performance is critical. There is a tremendous power in gratitude. Everyone appreciates acknowledgment. Be willing to celebrate your team members performance. Say "thank you." Practice being the last to speak and appreciate others ideas. Develop an attitude of gratitude to gain trust. - Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC

13. Manage People Based On Their Strengths And Happiness

Accepting someone for who they are builds trust. So, acknowledging someone's strengths and what makes them feel happy -- what provides pleasure and meaning -- helps them feel valued. Take time to evaluate an employee's strengths and manage to those strengths. Understand what makes them feel happier and provide those opportunities, even if it's a small example. These efforts help build a connection. - Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching

14. Lead By Example And Align Your Actions With Your Words

Ensure congruence between your actions and words. Smart employees have learned to ignore the rhetoric and listen to what their leaders "do." As the leader, set rapport building tone by communicating with forthright ease and reasonable accessibility. Once you have established your trustworthy presence, invite your employees to do the same. - Hayward Suggs, Commonquest Consulting

15. Maintain Consistency

A key way to ensure a relationship of trust with anyone is to maintain consistency in your words and actions. This is especially true of a manager and employee relationship. The employee is dependent upon the leader to be clear in their intentions, to communicate effectively and to do so consistently. - Indira Jerez, INNERtia Project

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Adapt or Die: How Change Really Happens

Companies, teams, and cultures are ever-shifting. Change is a vital aspect of company survival and success. Adapt or die. Despite its necessity and prevalence, change consistently proves to be a diffi


bottom of page