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Developing Trust in The Workplace

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, trust is the cornerstone of any successful workplace. Yet, the number of employees who share they don’t trust their leaders remains high.


Understanding the importance of having and developing trust in the workplace, in this blog, we look at:


  • The benefits of developing trust in the workplace.

  • How to develop trust in the workplace with executive coaching.

  • Why vulnerability is important when it comes to developing trust.


We additionally share some exercises that can help you get started on enhancing trust in your organisation.


What Are The Benefits of Developing Trust In The Workplace?

Whether you’re new to your leadership role or a seasoned pro, it’s common to wonder what the benefits of developing trust in the workplace are.


In a report by Paul J. Zak titled ‘The Neuroscience of Trust’ published by Harvard Business Review, it was reported that those working in high trust companies report benefits including:


  • 74% less stress

  • 106% more energy at work

  • 50% higher productivity

  • 13% fewer sick days

  • 76% more engagement

  • 29% more satisfaction with their lives

  • 40% less burnout


In addition, the report highlighted that:


  • 60% enjoyed their jobs more when there was trust in the workplace.

  • 70% of employees were more aligned with their company’s purpose when trust was apparent at work.

  • 66% of people felt closer to their colleagues when they trusted them.

  • 41% of individuals felt a greater sense of accomplishment when they trust their organisation.


Compared to the detrimental effects of mistrust, such as reduced employee engagement, poor team morale, and high staff turnover, all – or at least most - organisations desire the above outcomes.


But what happens if there is a lack of trust in the workplace?


Without trust between leaders and others within the organisation, various harmful effects can manifest:


  • Decreased Employee Engagement: When trust is lacking, it’s not uncommon for us to feel disconnected from our leaders and the organisation's mission, leading to decreased motivation and engagement.

  • Poor Communication: A lack of trust can hinder open and honest communication within the workplace, resulting in misunderstandings, rumours, and a breakdown of teamwork.

  • Increased Turnover: Employees are more likely to leave an organisation where trust is lacking, as they may feel undervalued, unsupported, or uncertain about the company's direction.

  • Stifled Innovation: In an environment of low trust, employees may be hesitant to share ideas or take risks, fearing judgement or repercussions. This stifles creativity and innovation, hindering the organisation's ability to adapt and thrive.

  • Erosion of Company Culture: Trust is foundational to a positive company culture. Without it, the culture can become toxic, marked by fear, suspicion, and disengagement.

  • Difficulty in Achieving Goals: Trust is essential for effective collaboration and teamwork. Without it, achieving organisational goals becomes increasingly challenging as teams struggle to work together cohesively.

  • Damage to Reputation: A lack of trust within the organisation can spill over into the external perception of the company, tarnishing its reputation among clients, partners, and stakeholders.


Developing Trust in The Workplace with Executive Coaching

As we can see from the above, trust forms the bedrock upon which effective communication, innovation, and productivity thrive. However, developing trust in the workplace is not always easy.


A study published by Gallup in 2022 shares the reality of trust in the workplace. Sadly, the results showed that only 23% of employees in the United States strongly agree that they trust their leaders and the leadership of their organisation.


In the United Kingdom, results are similar, with a survey of more than 3,000 employees highlighting that only 25% trust their leaders.


But as a leader, what can you to do develop trust in the workplace? A great place to start is executive coaching.


Working with an executive coach can support you in various areas of your personal and professional life, many of which have the potential to impact trust between you and your people.


But how? Find out below.


  • Identifying Blind Spots: Executive coaching can support you in understanding what blind spots in your behaviour or communication might be and how these could hinder trust-building in your organisation.

  • Enhancing Communication Skills: Progressing through an executive coaching programme offers you the chance to take advantage of personalised guidance on effective communication techniques, such as active listening and clear articulation, which are crucial for building trust.

  • Fostering Transparency: When you work with an executive coach, you’ll be able to gain support in navigating the balance between transparency and professionalism. This will enable you to share information authentically while maintaining credibility.

  • Cultivating Empathy: Through executive coaching sessions, you’ll develop empathy skills, allowing you to understand and relate to your team members' perspectives, which fosters trust and rapport.

  • Creating a Safe Space: Executive coaches provide a confidential and non-judgemental environment for you to explore challenges and vulnerabilities, facilitating personal growth and trust-building.

  • Offering Accountability Strategies: Through executive coaching, you’ll establish accountability mechanisms within your teams, fostering trust through mutual respect and responsibility.

  • Empowering Team Members: In addition to the above, executive coaching can guide you in empowering your team members, delegating effectively, and fostering a culture of autonomy and trust.

  • Strengthening Integrity: Finally, executive coaching can support you in aligning your actions with your values, demonstrating integrity, and earning the trust of your team members through consistent behaviour.


How Does Executive Coaching Support Leaders in Maintaining Trust?

Once trust has been established, it’s not a case of moving on to the next thing. It’s equally as important to maintain trust. But how can executive coaching support this?


  • Executive Coaching Supports the Development of Authentic Leadership: Executive coaching helps you cultivate authenticity by aligning your actions, decisions, and communication with your core values and beliefs. Employees see authentic leaders as genuine and trustworthy, as their behaviours are consistent and transparent.

  • Stronger Communication Skills: Coaches work with you to enhance your communication skills, including active listening, empathy, and clarity in conveying messages. Effective communication fosters understanding, reduces misunderstandings, and builds stronger connections, thus reinforcing trust among team members.

  • Emotional Intelligence: Executive coaching focuses on developing emotional intelligence, which enables you to understand and manage your own emotions and those of others. With high emotional intelligence, you’re better equipped to empathise with your team members, handle conflicts constructively, and build meaningful relationships based on trust and mutual respect.

  • Creating a Culture of Feedback and Accountability: Executive coaches help you establish a culture of open and honest feedback, where constructive criticism is welcomed and valued. Encouraging accountability at all levels of the organisation supports you in demonstrating your commitment to fairness and transparency, fostering trust in your leadership.

  • Navigating Complex Situations and Challenges: Executive coaching equips you with the skills and strategies to navigate complex situations and challenges effectively. By providing guidance and support during times of uncertainty or crisis, coaches help you maintain your composure, make sound decisions, and uphold trust in your leadership abilities.

  • Encouraging Collaboration and Teamwork: Executive coaches can assist you in fostering collaboration and teamwork among your team members, emphasising the importance of mutual respect, inclusivity, and shared goals. By promoting a collaborative environment where everyone feels valued and heard, you can build trust and cohesion within your teams.

  • Modelling Transparency and Integrity: Executive coaching emphasises the importance of transparency and integrity in leadership. Leaders who are open and honest in their dealings, admit mistakes, and take responsibility for their actions inspire trust and credibility among their team members.


Why Is Vulnerability Important When It Comes to Developing Trust in the Workplace?

At The Leadership Coaches, we often hear leaders sharing that they’ve noticed a lack of trust in the workplace or are unsure of how to develop trust at work.


Although crucial for fostering collaboration, innovation, and productivity, one common pain point that leaders often struggle with is navigating transparency and vulnerability.


Many leaders find vulnerability difficult because it exposes us emotionally and is usually uncomfortable. It has a certain amount of risk and uncertainty that allows others the opportunity to take advantage or gain knowledge that could hurt or damage us in some way.


Vulnerability requires a step of faith that the other person can be trusted. This level of trust goes beyond trusting that someone will do what they say they will do to a far deeper human connection that says:


  • “I trust your intentions and the actions that will follow.”

  • “I trust you enough to expose my genuine emotions, feelings, motives, and intentions.”

  • “I trust you to give me feedback in areas that I find most sensitive and complex.”


Building Trust at Work

Here are some trust exercises that focus on allowing team members to be vulnerable.


1.    Ask each person, in turn, to share with everyone else where they were born, how many siblings they have, which school they went to, and a challenge that they faced growing up.


2.    Either with a piece of paper or using a virtual whiteboard or similar, choose someone, to begin with; this should be the leader. Then ask everyone else to write on one side of the paper or whiteboard what the individual brings to the team that benefits the team. On the other side, what the individual brings to the team is detrimental to the team. Then, the person who is the subject of the feedback responds. The group moves on to another person, and the exercise is repeated.


Many other exercises can occur, and trust can form part of a standing agenda item in meetings and one-to-ones. Developing a coaching leadership style also builds relationships and high-trust environments.


It should be noted that these exercises are best introduced with the assistance of an external facilitator following training about building high levels of trust in teams.


We’re Your One Stop Provider for Executive Coaching

At The Leadership Coaches, we’re your one-stop provider for executive coaching.


When you opt to work with us, you and your people will have the opportunity to select from twenty credible coaches all under one roof. We do all the due diligence and the coach-matching process.


Our coach matching process sees a member of our Senior Leadership Team have a conversation with you/your people to establish expectations of coaching. Our team then looks across the coaching pool and matches each individual with one or two coaches whom they review on the website and have chemistry calls with.


To learn more about our process or to enquire about executive coaching with us, contact us today.


“The Trusted Executive” by John Blakey

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni

“Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown


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