Four Tools for Building Trust in the Workplace

Building trust in the workplace is serious business – and a key component of leadership success. Trust helps establish effective connections, and creates an environment in which others are motivated to achieve both individual and collective greatness. It's essential that managers and supervisors know how to build trust as a leader.

Very few people enjoy interacting with someone whose ego and sense of entitlement demand that respect based on title, privilege or other perceived unearned criteria. Respect is not assumed; it must be earned. One of the key principals of mutual respect is trust. Any leader who tries to manage others by coming from a place where they believe their experience, title, or wisdom entitles them to inherent respect will struggle to accomplish goals that a more humble leader will easily complete. As a leader, building trust in the workplace is vital - from the very first interaction each and every day.

How to Build Trust in a Team

Leaders need to build a level of comfort among team members, and that comfort can then grow into respecting leadership and mutually building trust in the workplace. People inherently want to be heard and understood. The importance of bonding and building rapport is important, because all things being equal:

Actively participating in bonding and building rapport during the communication process will enable leaders to consciously adjust speaking style, body language, and sensory cues to mirror the people with whom they need to connect. This active participation in the conversation is done subtly so team members are aware only of feeling familiar with their leader, and bonding and rapport can begin.

It's a common struggle with leaders who wonder how to build trust in a team. Here are four great tools to help increase awareness of active participation in the communication process and establish high trust in the workplace.

1. Effective Communication

  • The elements of effective communication are body language, tonality and words.
  • Body language is all about non-verbal communication. These include facial expressions, gestures, body movements, posture, eye contact.
  • Tonality is about the quality or character of sound. These include: tempo (rate or rhythm of speech); pitch (high or low range of tone); Inflection (an alternation in pitch or tone of voice so that a word or phrase is emphasized); Resonance (intensification or prolongation of a sound) and volume (the degree of loudness or softness).
  • Words are either spoken or written or typed. The power of these elements are evident in the type of communications considered: In face to face meetings, 55% of effective communication is body language; 38% tonality and 7% are the words used. In telephone communication, 83% of effective communication is tonality and 17% are the words used. Using email or texting, 100% is the words used, therefore 93% of effective communication is missing from these interactions.
  • Matching and mirroring involves subtly modeling the audience's gestures, habits, words, tonality, etc. The audience will simply find themselves liking the speaker more. It is because people feel understood by people they perceive to be more like them.

2. Active Listening

Active listening is simply reflecting back to the speaker the message you heard, so that you can either confirm or correct your understanding of that message. It also means being in the moment and intently listening on what is being said and what is not being said. Active listening is essential for building trust in the workplace. There are two ways to reflect the speaker's message:

  • Restatement – using their exact words
  • Paraphrasing – use their terms and words, not yours.

    This is not the time to get creative.
how to build trust in a team

3. Primary Sensory Dominance

  • People process and understand information from one or two of three primary senses: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
  • 55% of the population considers themselves to be "visual." More animated as they see and view things in their minds. They are show me people, tend to think fast, move fast and speak fast. Visual people are animated and use gestures as images are flashing in their heads. They hate to be interrupted and use their hands a lot. You'll hear them using words such as "see," "picture," "envision," "look."
  • About 20% of the population says they are "auditory." These people tend to communicate with themselves a great deal, hearing their words as they are spoken, often moving their lips in the process. They thrive on the spoken word and are very open to both sides of an argument and will speak slower and more deliberate than visuals. They tend to use words like "sound," "hear," "loud and clear," "ring a bell."
  • Kinesthetic people need to touch things to understand them, and represent about 25% of the population. These people measure their experiences on how they feel internally and there are those who like to touch, taste and feel. The tend to breath slowly and are very patient and intent when they speak. Use words like, "grasp," "hands on," "in touch," "get a handle on," "hang of it."

4. Personality Styles

DISC defines the four personality styles as: D = Dominant, I = Influencer, S = Steady Relators and C = Concise/compliant.

  • D's are decisive, tough, impatient, strong willed, action orientated, opinionated, competitive, demanding, independent and direct. You will need to tell them the bottom line and give them few choices and let them decide how to proceed. They never want to give up control.
  • I's are personable, trusting, affable, creative, humorous, life of the party, implusive and intuitive. They like talking in terms of ideas, feelings and people, not fact and figures. Their biggest fear is not being liked.
  • S's are steady, amiable, patient people who know how to keep peace and avoid conflict. They prefer constancy and consistency and therefore do not like change or surprises. S's are deliberate, slow to make decisions.
  • C's are cautious thinkers and are careful not to make mistakes. Their biggest fear is being wrong. C's like to research everything in order to make a sound decision. In seeking the perfect answer they are typically analytical. They like getting to the point with no small talk.

Building Trust and Creating Bonds

Creating a bond with team members is the first step in forming a productive relationship based on mutual trust. If you're looking for steps on how to build trust in a team, then exhibiting the traits of a servant leader - listening, effective communication, empathy, etc - is one of the most critical steps to doing so. Beginning to build a level of comfort and long term trust building requires becoming professionally different, changing the pattern of interaction based on the personalities involved.

Further, stepping back and understanding how the other party processes information can create strong bonds and start building trust in the workplace. This also creates healthy environment for good rapport. Practicing good listening skills in order to gain greater understanding of the other party allows leaders to focus on the person they are working with. This ability to focus will help leaders begin to build a more trusting and deeper relationship. If your organization needs guidance when it comes to connecting with their team, or need to enhance their coaching skills to better communicate, we're here to help! Click here to get started with the unique leadership development tools your organization needs to succeed.

If your organization’s managers and supervisors need to know how to start building trust as a leader, our A Better Leader lesson titled “Building Trust” may be just what you need! If your employees feel there a lack of trust, employee engagement will suffer and it's harder for everyone to work together. You can chat with our team of experts to get started or schedule a free demo!

In our "Building Trust" training, your leaders will learn the following:

  • How to restore employee trust in leadership and build trust in the workplace
  • How to hold themselves and others accountable
  • The importance of honesty in order to be a good leader and gain high levels of trust

We're looking forward to helping your organization solve their unique challenges and build trust between each leader and team member. We're just a click away - let's talk, here!

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About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is Director of IRI's Digital Workplace Solutions Group, and the founder of A Better Leader. Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.