Distrust in the Workplace


In one of the studies conducted by Dr. John F. Helliwell, he concluded that the benefits of trust extend to the workplace, “Just moving up one point on a ten-point scale of trust in your management has the life satisfaction equivalence of something like a one-third increase in income.” Management that values trust in the people, reaps the benefits by getting maximum productivity and employee satisfaction.

A workplace that lacks trust in the leadership is considered dysfunctional which ultimately creates workplace conflicts. If you have experienced any of the following indicators, there are signs that your workplace has a trust issue:

Negative Workplace Conversations – If interactions between employees are marked by pessimism or furtiveness, that’s a bad sign. Negativity can indicate employees don’t feel secure in their positions or around their co-workers.

High Turnover Rates – If you’re not sure why employees keep leaving your business for your competitors, look to your workplace culture. According to a study, 75-80% of people leave jobs because of relationship issues, either with co-workers or the people they report to.

Lying and Rumor Spreading – Rumors are an opportunity to gain information without exposing yourself. Likewise, if you catch your employees in lies from time to time, you need to ask why they don’t feel safe telling you the truth.

Providing a safe environment and an ear to listen to the problems and concerns also creates a positive image. Management expert, Ken Blanchard, has outlined what he calls the ABCD Trust Model which provides a useful framework.

Able – Are you perceived as competent in your role? When others perceive that you are committed to your own growth and development, it builds confidence.

Believable – Do others feel that you are honest, open, and fair?  Employees and employers want to know that you can be trusted to be straight with them, even when things aren’t going well.

Connected – People want to know that their people care about them. They also want to know that you are human and that you can relate to their challenges.

Dependable – Once these three foundations are laid, people want to know that you can be counted on consistently. Dependability is really about integrity and accountability to your people.

If the work environment is having some serious trust issues, there are steps that can address this issue. The most important part starts with assessing your personal level of conversational intelligence; your ability to be open with people and understand their responses. In the process of understanding this skill, you need to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses and that of others. Understanding your own role and that of others allow to see a bigger picture and creates a trust among employees.