Two Employees

As individuals, we each choose whether we will trust someone or not. Within an organization, that decision to trust plays a bigger role in your company’s success than you might think.

The Great Places to Work Institute regularly names top companies across countries, regions and industries, basing more than half of its criteria on trust. According to their research, trust between managers and employees is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces. They’ve found that companies with high trust regularly outperform the S&P 500 by a factor of three.

When we began developing content for our Building Trust Power of WE workshop for teams, we found a survey from Paul J. Zak, author of the Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies, which studied organizations that employees felt were highly trustworthy as well as those that employees rated with low trust. Looking at the top trusted companies compared with the bottom ranked companies, he found that employees at these highly trusted organizations had:

  • 106 percent more energy
  • 76 percent more engagement
  • 50 percent more productivity
  • 50 percent more interest in staying at their company over the next year

Managers play a key role in their employees’ trust. The American Psychological Association found that when employees feel supported by their supervisor only 22 percent reported distrust with their employer. That number more than doubled without supervisor support with 56 percent of workers feeling distrust.

As a leader of an organization, department or team, building trust in the workplace is important to the overall success of your department and company, and there are actions you can take to build this rapport.

Building Trust in the Workplace through the Emergenetics® Preferences

Each attribute needs something different to establish trust. It’s important for everyone, especially leadership and managers, to model each of these behaviors. And, as you work one-on-one with employees or colleagues, be mindful of their preferences and use these tips to create trust based on their individual needs.

  1. Be as transparent as possible.

Those with a preference in Analytical care about data. They want accurate, credible information, and they want to make sure they have all of the relevant data, not just the points that support one perspective. Being transparent and accurate will help earn credibility with employees who have an Analytical preference.

  1. Follow through on your commitments.

When you say you’re going to do something, do it. This action will foster trust in those with a Structural preference because they feel a sense of appreciation when timelines and expectations are met. When you complete projects on time and reliably follow through on your commitments, you will build confidence with others.

  1. Show care for others.

You can support individuals with a Social preference by demonstrating that people and relationships are part of your organization’s and your own decision-making process. Demonstrate that you care for and value your people. One way to start is to make the decision to give them the benefit of the doubt and presume positive intent.

  1. Connect to the bigger picture.

People with a Conceptual preference need to understand the vision for the company and themselves. To build trust in the workplace, communicate about the bigger picture and the hope for the future. Share where you see your team members going in the long-term, and invest in new ideas and processes as well as the people who will help get you there.

  1. Communicate conscientiously.

Expressiveness connects to the way that your team members process information. Some will be internal processors and need time before responding. Others will want to talk through their thoughts. To build trust, be conscientious in your communication. Provide information in multiple ways like email, over the phone and in person. Give others a chance to talk and take time to listen.

  1. Manage conversation and conflict respectfully.

Assertiveness is the style and pace with which you advance your thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Some of your staff will advance their ideas in a more peacekeeping manner, while others will be direct in promoting their opinions. To create a psychologically safe environment for all sides, focus on being respectful in the way you manage conversations, discussion and conflict. Calmly mediate discussions and encourage open conversation. Set norms that allow for challenging ideas so long as it is done thoughtfully.

  1. Be open to different approaches.

Flexibility measures your willingness to accommodate the thoughts and actions of others. Those with a preference in first-third Flexibility like to commit to a task and gain energy by following through on decisions. Those in the third-third love change and new ideas even after a decision is made. To build confidence across Flexibility preferences, demonstrate that you are open to different ideas and perspectives than your own and entertain multiple options. Once a decision is made stick with one approach, and if it must change, be transparent about why a new approach is being taken. And allow time for those is the first-third to process the change before pushing them to get on board.

Ultimately, we all have to make a personal decision whether we will trust our colleagues, managers or leadership. By following these steps, you can make that choice a lot easier on your employees and begin building a culture of trust across your workplace.


What questions do you have about fostering trust in your organization? Fill out the form below to connect with our team.

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