How to Earn Employee Trust Through Good Leadership

Fostering employee trust is one of the trickiest challenges of being a manager. This is because trust between an employee and their employer is always full of subtexts and hidden meanings, which is why a nice smile or the occasional pep talk are not sufficient to get ordinary employees to trust those above them. Companies today invest large amounts of money to make sure that their employees trust their managers and co-workers. However, this policy is not just designed to make people work more efficiently, they are also designed to prevent conflict, avoid lawsuits and, at the same time, foster a safe and pleasant work environment for everyone involved.

Of course, for a company executive or business owner, employee trust primarily means getting their employees to trust them and the decisions that they make for the good of the company. So if you want to earn your employees trust, the most important thing that you can do is to provide them with leadership that is conducive to a lasting business relationship.

How to Earn Employee Trust Through Good Leadership

Conflict Prevention

One way to foster trust among employee is to simply make sure that there’s very little conflict in their work environment. Conflict or even just the possibility of conflict makes people wary and less trusting of their peers and colleagues. This is particularly true with regards to those issues which make people uncomfortable, such as gender relations, race relations, religion or any other topic that could potentially offend people. If or when such such issues turn into actual conflict, they are very difficult to resolve, especially if one or both parties in the conflict are not open to mediation or reconciliation.

The best way to approach these kinds of issues is to simply prevent them from happening. Well thought-out office policies, sensitivity training as well as psychological evaluation for all of your office personnel can help identify or rectify issues that may potentially cause problems in the future. Likewise, if you’re receiving a lot of complaints about one or two of your employees then you should take the necessary measures to speak with them as soon as possible.

Conflict breeds distrust, and employees who often fight amongst themselves are less likely to trust their boss because of the work environment that they’re in. So if you want your employees to trust you, make it clear to them that you know how to prevent conflicts. This will make your employees less defensive around the office, and help promote a more wholesome work environment.

Conflict Resolution

Office politics is a fact of life for many employees, and it affects all levels of a particular company. If these rivalries escalate into conflict then they will need to be rectified quickly before they get our of hand. To do this, you will need to establish detailed company policies regarding office or company related conflict. These policies should also be reviewed by your legal team, and they need to offer conflict resolution in such a way that protects your company from unnecessary damages and long term liabilities.

Such policies should also lay down stipulations and guidelines on how to deal with office related conflicts, whether it’s through mediation or even legal action. Since office conflict tends to attract a lot of attention, conflict resolution policies should also help to put everyone’s concerns at ease by helping your personnel cope with any fallout that may occur due to office rivalries.

With regards to fostering employee trust, conflict resolution and mediation proves that the office has the necessary policies in place to handle controversial problems whenever they come up. It also proves to your employees that whenever these problems do happen that the top management is only interested in the best possible outcome for all parties involved.

Job Security

Another way to secure the trust of your employees is to make them feel that they’re not expendable. People who feel that they might be laid off in the foreseeable future are less trusting than those who feel that they are valuable to the company. One way to deal with this problem is to give your employees certain guarantees about the status of their employment in the company by making it clear that personnel and employees will not be terminated without good cause. This way, all your employees will feel more secure about their place in the company, thus making them more loyal as a result.

Another option is to give your employees more options for self-advancement, such as employee training or open paths to promotion. These kinds of policies make personnel feel that they are valuable to your company, and therefore less expendable in the long run. By fostering this kind of attitude, your employees will feel more secure about their place in the company, and they will be more loyal as a result.

Develop Group Responsibility

One of the leading sources of distrust is the blame game. Whenever something goes wrong, some people instinctively point their fingers at those who they suspect to have caused the problem. Needless to say, this sort of behavior only increases distrust among personnel, and it needs to be rectified in order to foster a sense of trust among your employees.

One solution that managers can try is to emphasize group dynamics. For example, in rewarding success, you don’t reward any single employee or individual. Instead, rewards, whether they’re pay bonuses or extra benefits, should be given equitably to the entire group. This may seem unfair to the more individualistically minded, but it does foster group cohesion. Furthermore, since the policy is to reward group effort, you are less likely to get accused of favoring certain employees over others.

This egalitarian approach creates stability at the expense of competition and flexibility. However, if your company needs group cohesion more than it needs individual expertise then this is a good way to foster employee trust among your personnel.


It’s worth mentioning that there are no specific rules for developing employee trust. So feel free to use any strategy that fits the needs of your company. The important thing to remember, however, is that trust is something based on three things, namely truth, loyalty and self-interest. Employees who believe that they work for an honest company that is also concerned about their interests are more likely trust their employers. This is how you develop employee trust.

Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog