Get Emotional, And Other Tips For Building Trust

April 19, 2016 Sarah Payne

Smiley facesHow much do you trust your coworkers? Your boss? How about senior leadership?

If you’re striving to build a culture that really stands out from the rest, one key piece of the puzzle is trust—in colleagues and in leaders who are responsible for setting the tone for the rest of the business.

And if you’ve ever worked in a company with high levels of mistrust and suspicion, you know full well how it can seep into every corner of your work life. It can impact your productivity—can you trust your colleague to finish their piece of the project? It can really impact morale—can you trust your manager to go to bat for you? Or to give you a fair, unbiased review?

For years, Great Place to Work® has researched millions of employees in more than 90 countries. The data overwhelmingly shows that great workplaces “are built through the day-to-day relationships that employees experience.” According to Great Place to Work co-founder Robert Levering, a great workplace “is one in which you trust the people you work for, have pride in what you do, and enjoy the people you work with.”

Business case for trust

Sure, trust makes day-to-day life a lot more enjoyable at work. But it also has far-reaching impact on the business. Results from the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer show that when people trust companies, they are more likely to share positive opinions online, defend the company, and even shell out more money for their products.

And research from Great Place to Work confirms that best companies where there are high levels of trust provide nearly three times the stock market return.

Latest survey results on trust 

The new report from the WorkHuman Research Institute at Globoforce digs a bit deeper into trust and how it impacts culture. The fourth finding is: “Employees trust colleagues most, but it is trust for leaders that most impacts culture.”

First workers were asked whether they trust their colleagues, their boss, and senior leaders. Only 65% of workers say that they trust their senior leaders.

Trust = love

Next the report delves into the connection between trust and loving your job. It finds that workers who trust their senior leaders are almost twice as likely to say they love their job. Those that trust their colleagues are 31% more likely to love their job, and those that trust their boss are 34% more likely to love their job.

Workers who trust senior leaders are almost 2x as likely to love their job.
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Engagement and optimism

The impact of trust in senior leadership can be seen in other areas that are strong indicators of employee attitudes at work:

  • Nearly two times as likely to be engaged as those who don’t trust senior leaders
  • Almost two times as likely to believe they have a strong future in their organization
  • More than twice as likely to believe their company is a best place to work

Workers who trust senior leaders are nearly 2x as likely to be engaged.
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How to build trust

The survey not only shows the positive impact of trust, but suggests that one of the most effective ways of building trust for managers and senior leaders is through frequent recognition. Check out the chart below.

Trust and Recognition

Workers recognized in the last month are 34% more likely to trust senior leaders, compared to those those who have never been recognized. Likewise, workers are 33% more likely to trust managers when they have been recently recognized.

Workers recognized in the last month are 34% more likely to trust senior leaders.
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WorkHuman 2015 speaker Tim Leberecht also shares some tips for building trust in his recent article for Harvard Business Review, including:

  1. Get emotional.
  2. Be whimsical.
  3. Express doubt.

He explains: “We might think we want our leaders to be machines or heroes. But it’s impossible to trust a person who is always rational, serious, and in control. If you’re a boss, have the courage to present yourself as a more complex being: as a sinner, not a saint; a fragile identity, not a robust platform; a lively question-mark, not a dead-certain exclamation point.”

The more managers and leaders bring our whole human selves to work—by giving recognition and being transparent and authentic—the more likely we are to build trust and reap its benefits in our workplaces.

To learn more about trust at work, download our new report, The ROI of Recognition in Building a More Human Workplace.


Get Emotional, And Other Tips for Building Trust #workhuman
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