How to Earn More Trust at Work

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect


Story: Throughout my career I’ve heard people blurt out, often in exasperation, “I just don’t trust ___!” TRUST is one of the most fleeting and challenging values amongst people at work. What can we practically do to address this? Respected leadership consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman recently published important work on trust based on substantial research. Three key elements emerged: Judgment, Relationships and Consistency. Of the three, which do you think had the biggest trust impact?

Key Point: Positive relationships have the biggest impact on trust, period. The authors note:  “Intuitively we thought that consistency would be the most important element. Saying one thing and doing another seems like it would hurt trust the most. While our analysis showed that inconsistency does have a negative impact (trust went down 17 points), it was relationships that had the most substantial impact. When relationships were low and both judgment and consistency were high, trust went down 33 points. This may be because many leaders are seen as occasionally inconsistent. We all intend to do things that don’t get done, but once a relationship is damaged or if it was never formed in the first place, it’s difficult for people to trust.”

My observation is that building and maintaining positive relationships requires our personal energy and intentional investment. Yet, people too often under invest in caring about the situation or concerns of people who work around them. We obviously know relationship building is important, still we seem to show up most when WE need something. That does little to inspire trust. Are you known as a builder and investor in positive relationships? Do people trust you?

Actions we can take:

Based on Zenger/Folkman’s findings, investing in and building positive relationships for increasing trust includes (but not limited to): Proactively staying in touch on the issues and concerns of others; balancing results with concern; generating cooperation; resolving conflicts; giving honest feedback in a helpful way.                              

  1. After reading this, take one small action to proactively invest in an underdeveloped relationship at work.

More investment in positive relationships,


One Millennial View: We’ve talked a lot in these blogs about the value of giving people respect, in contradiction to the more popular take that someone should have to earn our respect. Trust, whether we like it or not, is still very much an “earned” value, and that’s completely understandable to me. How are we supposed to put trust in someone we don’t know, let alone don’t have any relationship with? We all put in the hours at work to earn a paycheck, but perhaps trust is another valuable currency that deserves a few hours of our time each week too.

– Garrett

Blog 966

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis