7 Ways to Build Work Team Trust

Trust is the confidence that others around you will do what they say, when they say they will, to the best of their ability. Trust is crucial in all areas of life, but work team trust is essential to a thriving team environment. It builds strong and effective teams. Work team trust also brings many other benefits to your employees and company. In fact, when trust exists within your work teams, employee engagement and satisfaction increase, making a positive impact on employee retention.

Conversely, when there is a lack of work team trust, engagement and satisfaction suffer, productivity declines, and negative feelings circulate in the workplace. The whole organization feels the impact.

Since it’s beneficial to develop trust among team members, how can leaders build trust? First and foremost, employees need to know their leader or manager is committed to the team, will act transparently, and ultimately has their best interests at heart.

Trust is something you must earn. As you can imagine, it takes time, consistency, and hard work. As a leader, you must also find ways to build trust within your teams to encourage their success.


Here are seven steps to enhancing work team trust:


#1 Get to know each other.

There is no better way to build trust than by getting to know each other. When you have a firm understanding of each other’s communication preferences, strengths and weaknesses, and likes and dislikes, it’s easier to work together. Also, getting to know each other personally brings a new depth to relationships within the team. Organize team-building activities, social outings, or lunch-and-learn sessions to encourage these connections. Leaders can also get to know individuals better through regularly scheduled one-to-one meetings.


#2 Set clear expectations.

One of the easiest ways to develop work team trust is to set clear expectations from the onset of any project or task. When there is ambiguity, misunderstandings may occur, which lead to mistrust. Leaders should be clear about expectations from team members and what they can expect from you. For example, a team leader may set expectations around project deadlines, quality of work, or overtime approved to complete a project. They may clarify the impact of the project on the organization’s mission or goals and if there is any recognition or compensation as a part of completion.


#3 Be real. Be transparent.

Anyone can make a mistake. As a leader, you must own up to yours. Likewise, there are some things you need to learn. When you’re willing to admit this, it shows your human side. It makes you trustworthy and will encourage others to be open and honest about mistakes and what they don’t know. Plus, it’s essential to learn from each other’s mistakes.

So, if you don’t know something, admit it. Seek advice and input from experts, including those within your team. If you made a mistake or took an incorrect action, take responsibility. Explain to your team what happened. Share what you learned. Let them know how you will rectify the situation. Showing your imperfections and vulnerabilities is a significant step to building trust and creates a safe place for your team members to do the same.


#4 Model good behaviors.

Another way to build trust is to lead by example. Your words will mean nothing if they don’t match your actions. So, if you want more team comradery, display it. If you want more positive, encouraging talk among employees, speak it. If you want employees to deliver on time, do it. Leaders set the tone. Employees will follow your lead.


#5 Don’t play the blame game.

There is a fine line between holding employees accountable and blaming them for failures. Failure is most likely a combination of a variety of things. It could start with unclear expectations, decisions made in a silo, or even factors outside your control. Whatever the reason, avoid blaming team members and instead dissect what you’ve all learned from the failure. What will you do differently next time? Explore it from all angles.

Avoid finger-pointing. The last thing you want is to foster a team culture of fear to explore new ideas, take calculated risks, or get creative. Look at each problem or failure as a learning opportunity, and learn together as a team.


#6 Encourage feedback at all levels.

Ideally, team members get comfortable giving each other feedback. The best way to encourage that is to ask for feedback. Employees feel valued when you’re actively listening and discussing (or even acting on) their feedback. In turn, they’ll become more comfortable giving feedback in the team setting. It’s a great way to build trust, respect, and rapport with team members.

Additionally, reciprocate with feedback. Make sure to balance between positive and constructive feedback. This will enforce the good behaviors and allow employees to correct or improve the bad ones.


#7 Publicly praise and recognize.

Another fantastic way to build trust is publicly recognizing team members for work well done. It makes them feel valued and appreciated. Coincidentally, this also helps reinforce and encourage good behaviors and outcomes! So, openly share those success stories.

Also, highlight how your team’s achievements contribute to the company’s mission and goals. There is nothing like the feeling you made a difference in motivating productivity!


Trust provides the foundation for employees and teams to work together successfully. While building work team trust requires effort, it enables employees to collectively contribute to your organization’s success.