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Earning Trust in the Office

A combination of what you do, what you say, and how you choose to conduct yourself dictates if and when you will earn the trust of your co-workers.

Trust is built with consistency.

-Lincoln Chafee


Earning trust in the office place, whether you are a member of the rank and file or a manager, takes time and effort. It’s a combination of what you do, what you say, and how you choose to conduct yourself that dictates if – and how quickly – you will earn the trust of your co-workers.

It is entirely possible you will spend more time with this group of people than with any other person in your life right now, including a spouse or significant other, so trust and success travel hand-in-hand.

Trust is important because you have to know that your manager and your team members will support you, but also because you have to trust them to do their jobs. If a ball gets dropped, knowing someone is there to pick it up and run with it is a key to everyone’s success.


The single most important ingredient in the recipe for success is transparency because transparency builds trust.

-Denise Morrison


Robert Rivera is Xceleration’s Director of Growth Strategy, and he manages a large team of developers and project managers.  He says trust is absolutely a two-way street, and it begins even before an employee is hired.

“I’m very transparent about the everyday operation, maybe to a fault,” Rivera admits.  “I like to be upfront during interviews. I’ll say ‘we have our challenges, and here’s an example. This is why we’re hiring this position; we need someone with expertise in this area and we’re bringing someone in to help us.’ I like to be extremely transparent.”

Many of the things Rivera is transparent about in the hiring process are issues that will make themselves apparent early in an employee’s tenure with the company. Getting the notion that the company isn’t perfect on the table early avoids conflict later on.

“I don’t want them coming in on day 30 and saying ‘you didn’t tell me about this,’” Rivera continues. “Expectations are set early. Visions are set early. Being genuine just builds trust.”


If people like you, they’ll listen to you. If they trust you, they’ll do business with you.

-Zig Ziglar


Networking expert Bob Burg developed the “Know, Like and Trust” equation in his book “Endless Referrals.”  It’s a technique best known for cultivating sales, but Rivera uses it to manage his team as well. Getting to know some of the individuals on the team will be easier than others, but for all of them, it starts by being observant.

“You have to take a step back and ask questions – over time you buildup trust,” Rivera explains. “See what they hang up in their office, what pictures and tchotchkes they put in their cubicle or on their desk. Don’t be creepy about it, but it can offer a lot of insight into just who you are working with. If you know, like and trust the people you work with, you build that rapport.”


Managers can earn the trust of their team members by noticing how they decorate their workspaces, and asking questions about their interests. This develops a rapport that leads to trust.

The job is… building good work habits and building trust. You want to get to a point where you can say anything and talk about anything. There needs to be a real connection.

-Rick Rubin

In the workplace, connections come through shared experiences – everyone on the team pulling in the same direction on a project over a period of time.  Paramount to this, for managers, is making sure the team knows you’re going through it, too. Don’t ask your team to do things you, as their manager, aren’t willing to do.

“I can’t ask my team to work late – or work on a weekend – if I’m not right there with them. Making them work a weekend and telling them I’ll see them on Monday is a great way to lose the team’s trust.”

Follow these guidelines and sometimes, Rivera says, even a failed project can bring a group together.


Say thank you. Say it often, and say it with meaning.

-Marne Levine

Over and above all, Rivera says, whatever you say and do must come from a genuine place to earn the trust of your team and co-workers.

“If I, as a manger, can provide all six of the human basic needs (certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth, contribution), I can move mountains. But, it’s got to be genuine; it has to come from a real place. If you are emotionally impacted by what they did, express that as often as you can.”


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