Building Trust With Your Employees

In order to have a healthy work environment, there has to be a certain level of trust between you and your employees. Of course, trust is important in any relationship, but if you want your staff to feel comfortable and empowered to do their best work it is critical that they know you believe in them. Here are a couple of things that you, as a manager, can do to start doing to build more trust with your team.

Always Be Honest

According to author Don Miguel Ruiz, honesty is among one of the most important things you can do to transform your life. It’s one of what he calls the four agreementsOpens in a new tab., although he refers to it as being impeccable with your word. Honesty is a good life policy in general, but it’s even more important if you’re a manager who supervises people. By default, managers are leaders and in order to be an effective leader people need to believe what you say. Even if you’re afraid you won’t look good by admitting you don’t know something, you will look much worse if it comes out that you weren’t truthful about something. If you want your employees to believe in you it’s important to always be honest with them.

Treat Employees as Individuals

Even if you supervise dozens of people it’s critical that you treat them as individuals and not just names or numbers on a roster. As a manager you should be doing everything you can to increase independence and individuality for each person on your team. Everyone wants to be seen and appreciated as a unique person, but it might be hard to treat everyone on your team as separate and distinct if you supervise a lot of people and have to rely on automated tasks or processes. You might want to reexamine some of your standardized office protocols and try to find a way to make them more personal. For example, time cards. Punching a time card doesn’t generally instill a sense of self worth. One thing you can do to help instill independence is to utilize a time card appOpens in a new tab.. This puts the onus of timekeeping on the employee, and also let’s them know that you have confidence in them being honest and accurate with their time. In the long run, digitally automated information is also much easier to manage than antiquated clocks or filling out paperwork. You don’t want or need to become best friends with your staff, but it will help everyone if you treat them as valuable and trustworthy individuals.

Own Your Mistakes

No one’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. If a team is truly going to work together effectively, though, it’s important that everyone feels comfortable admitting when they make a mistake. As a manager, you have the opportunity to demonstrate how to work through something if it doesn’t go according to plan. Perhaps one of the best ways you can do so is to lead by example and admit when you were wrong. Even more important, though, is if you owe someone an apology due to a mistake you made. It is absolutely critical for supervisors to apologize for any wrongdoings. Again, everyone makes mistakes, but if you say you’re sorry and let your staff know that you’re genuine it will help your team immensely in the long run. 


As a manager you need to be able to put aside your thoughts and feelings and genuinely listen to your team members. You want to practice active listeningOpens in a new tab. and make sure your direct reports have the time they need to voice their concerns. When or if the time comes when someone needs to tell you something, you need to make sure they feel comfortable doing so. Yes, chances are you’re probably busy, but it’s always a good use of time to listen to your employees. It’s important to take the time needed so your staff feel heard and valued. Ideally when the time comes for you to say something important you will feel heard and valued as well.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

It can be hard for some managers to give staff credit for accomplishments. Some managers take credit given as their own, especially in public situations. If you want your team members to trust you, you should be able to let others know when they’ve done a good job. It reflects positively on you, and helps build self-esteem in your staff. If someone’s done a good job with something, they deserve to take credit for it.

Being a good manager is hard. It takes a lot of time and patience to effectively lead and mentor people to success. However, the most important thing you can do as a manager is to build trust between you and your employees and any time you can spend doing that will be time well spent.

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