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Trust: The Missing Link for Many Employees Toward their Leadership

Updated on October 17, 2012
ChrisMcDade8 profile image

Christine McDade is a Human Resources professional (PHR & SHRM-CP) with over 18 years in the public sector.


Leadership and Trust

One thing that I often hear from employees who seek advice about their concerns at work is that they just do not "trust" their boss. Whether they feel this way because they did not get a promotion they felt they deserved, received a low score on their performance evaluation, or truly have a boss who is not leading in an ethical manner, employees often start feeling a lack of respect that makes them no longer trust their leadership. Whether justified or not, the relationship between employee and supervisor suffers significantly. And, as everyone knows, when an employee is unhappy at work, they will be unhappy about the work they do and therefore not do not their best in the performance of their job.

What Goes Wrong?

As mentioned above, there are many reasons why the relationship between the supervisor and employee deteriorates. Trust can dwindle if the employee suspects a dishonest action on the part of their supervisor. When directives seem inconsistent and favoritism is the norm, employees will not want to follow this supervisor and may disrupt the harmony in the work environment by being uncooperative or displaying their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Trust diminishing in the workplace can erode over time or simply be the result of a single situation. When you add the human element of different personalities and diverse values to the picture, it is easy to understand how trust can be lost in the workplace.

Getting Back to Good

To reestablish trust in the relationship, try considering the following:


Trust begins with confidence in your leadership. For trust to be a part of a working relationship, the employee must be able to rely on the integrity of the individual who is leading the team. As the leader/supervisor, everything you do counts. Set an example by the way you conduct yourself in your position as the head of your team. Trust will result as they see you leading by being fair in your decision making, and by following a solid code of conduct. Consistently performing your leadership role in this manner will build trust with the employees you supervise over time.


Respect one another for the contribution that everyone makes to the organization. Leaders rely on members of the team to help reach the goals of the organization. Everyone contributes to getting that job done in one way or another. By respecting the contributing efforts of every role and function, trust will build among the team and success can be had by all. Leaders who embrace diversity in the workplace will set a positive example for all employees to follow.


Understand that there will be times when decisions get made that employees do not understand and, therefore, second guess when they are made. When an employee understands that leadership has to make difficult decisions that are complicated or unpopular, they can learn to trust that decision making is for the good of all. Again, this feeling of trust will only happen if the leadership is demonstrating an ethical and positive lead for others to emulate.


Significant change comes when the supervisor and employee make an effort to work on improving the working relationships in the workplace. Doing so will improve the atmosphere that fosters honesty and trust among team members. This type of environment can only exist when trust is made a priority by the leadership.


Time is needed to develop all worthwhile relationships. Work relationships are no different. When supervisors and employees trust one another, their relationship will grow stronger and the results for the organization can be limitless.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication is crucial to all relationships. When there is understanding and honesty demonstrated consistently between the leadership and the employee, employees will grow to trust their leader and follow them because of the faith and reliance they have in their abilities. The employee must have confidence that their leader is trustworthy and will do what is best for the employees and the organization.


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