Navigating Trust Deficit; A Guide to Foster Trust in the Workplace

Your team members are the most value-creating and value-sustaining assets to have. They are the ones responsible for efficient work processes and contribute to the overall success and effectiveness of the organisation. As a high-performing manager, your role extends beyond task delegation; it involves cultivating an environment where trust flourishes. In this blog, we discuss the basic causes of trust deficit among co-workers and practical strategies from the perspective of a seasoned manager to build and maintain trust within your teams.

Why is Trust Important in the Workplace?

Trust – the foundation of every relationship, is not just confined to employers. Trust among colleagues is equally important as it drives open and honest communications in the workplace, thereby building collaborative workspaces. 

A high-performing manager knows the limitations of working in a trust deficit environment; the top limitation being people not working to their full potential.

Managing lingering distrust in the workplace can be a tricky task. You need the innermost sincerity and patience to actually solve this problem and build a workplace where everyone is working towards the achievement of common organisation goals.

Causes of Distrust in the Workplace: 

A lack of trust in the workplace can lead to a myriad of challenges, meaning constant disputes and an unhealthy work environment. Here are some common causes of distrust in the workplace: 

1. Not Standing Up for the Team

High-performing teams function well on trust and transparency. They also need a strong backup from their managers for their new ideas and visions. 

Employees lose trust in you if you don’t have their back. They feel excluded or suspicious, leading to workplace distrust.

2. Not Trusting Your Team’s Abilities

If you don’t trust your team members to take on new challenges or responsibilities, it can hinder their professional growth. Constantly monitoring and controlling every aspect of your team’s work signals a lack of trust in their abilities. When team members feel their contributions are undervalued, they are less likely to perform their roles and responsibilities with full commitment. 

3. Contradictory Actions and Words

Employees also begin to lose trust if the behaviour of supporting managers is inconsistent with their communicated values or promises.

The development of distrust within co-workers and teams negatively affects the overall performance of the organisation. At SBL, we recognise the significance of trust in laying the foundation for effective leadership and co-creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture. Establishing trust within your team is of crucial importance for fostering open communication, promoting innovation, and enhancing overall team performance.

How to Manage Trust Deficit in the Workplace? 

Here’s how you can manage to have a healthy and productive workplace while maintaining trust:

1. Good Communication is Key

Every team member is unique, and so are their workplace concerns. Talk to your employees while respecting their individual differences and understanding their specific concerns and issues. One-on-one meetings help ensure confidentiality. 

Creating a culture of open and honest communication is pivotal where employees share their grievances freely instead of keeping them to themselves. Prioritize transparency, ensuring information is shared effectively and that team members feel valued and respected in all cases, including decision-making processes.

2. Build Accountability With Your Actions

As a manager, your actions set the tone for the team’s work ethic and commitment to shared organisational goals. Clearly articulate the roles and responsibilities of each team member, ensuring everyone understands their contributions to the team’s success. Your role doesn’t end here! Demonstrate accountability in your own tasks and responsibilities. Commit to set timelines and deliver expected outcomes. When your team sees you taking ownership and meeting deadlines, it sets a standard for them to follow.

Be transparent about challenges that come your way and admit your own mistakes. Modelling a willingness to take responsibility for errors encourages a culture of accountability where team members feel safe admitting their own missteps.

3. Address Conflicts Head-on in Time

Disagreements and conflicts are inevitable in any group of people, workplaces are no different. Not addressing conflicts within time not only increases the intensity of underlying issues but also escalates trust deficit. 

Conflict resolution is a critical skill for managers. High-performing managers address conflicts promptly and effectively, demonstrating fairness and a commitment to maintaining a positive team dynamic. 

4. Involve Teams in Decision Making

There’s no denying that making important decisions is your call but ensuring that people in your team know about your decisions is another key to unlocking team trust. Every decision you make directly impacts them so nothing should come off as a surprise. Rather, harness their collective intelligence for quality decisions that are better aligned to the achievement of collective goals.

5. Acknowledge and Appreciate Your Employees

Recognition is a powerful tool in the manager’s arsenal. Regularly acknowledging and appreciating the efforts of team members fosters a positive work environment and reinforces a sense of value and trust.

6. Invest in Professional Development

Management must regularly assess the skills and competencies of their people and identify areas requiring improvement. The next step will be to identify training programs, workshops, and courses that align with the skills needed for individual and team success. You can also consider organizing in-house training sessions or workshops. 

Investing in the growth and development of your team is not just a strategic move but a vital necessity. 


Building workplace trust is an ongoing process and requires a proactive approach. Trust thrives when the aforementioned practical strategies come into being. Embrace the role of a trust-building leader with dedication and authenticity, and watch your team flourish under your guidance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to build trust in the workplace?

Building trust in the workplace is a nuanced process that requires dedication, authenticity, and sustained efforts. Consistently model honesty and integrity in your actions and decisions. When your team sees you embodying the values you expect from them, trust naturally follows.

2. How to create a culture of trust in the workplace?

Creating a culture of trust in the workplace is a fundamental aspect of effective management and team collaboration. It begins with trusting your people with decision-making processes and other responsibilities. Empowerment instils a sense of ownership and confidence, contributing to a culture where individuals feel trusted to take initiative.