Developing And Maintaining Trust At Work

There is a universal saying: Trust is a bit like oxygen; when it is available, things run smoothly and you hardly notice it, but when you remove it, you cant get anything done.

An effective leader must be able to successfully interact with peers, employees, seniors and many other individuals both within and outside the organization. Leaders must earn the support of many people to achieve or exceed established objectives. This requires development of a unique understanding of people. The ability to coach-mentor and teach leadership skills to others is the driving force that will create a winning organization. Being an effective leader requires the understanding of the principles that govern employee behaviour.

The following are some of the pitfalls that that could cause a leader to lose both trust and respect:

1. Making promises when one is not sure if they can be kept

A leader should take making promises seriously. A promise should be viewed as a commitment made with an understanding that circumstances might arise that would make it impossible to keep them and those circumstances should be very clear to the person at the time promises are made. In rare circumstance that they do break a promise, they should face the employee eye to eye, be honest and explain in detail why they were not able to keep their promise.

2. Ignoring complaints from some employees who whine more than others

No employee thinks their complaint is insignificant even if the leader thinks it is whining. It is still a problem even if the complaint is taken lightly or ignored. In fact it may grow and fester. An effective leader should address the complaint and not be afraid to tell the employee it is whining or trivial by explaining why. Even though the employee may not hear the answer she/he is looking for, the leader will not lose respect due to inattention. Delivering the message is also important and should be done without belittling the employee.

3. Inconsistent behaviour or partiality towards certain employees

A leader should avoid varying their approach with their employees, i.e. being lenient with some and strict with others. There is a fine line between treating all employees exactly the same and showing consistency in the treatment of employees. Employees are all individuals with different backgrounds, different values, different goals, different ideas and different motivational factors. The ability to recognize the differences in people and the ability to apply variable leadership methodologies is an important characteristic of effective leadership. It is imperative that a leader does not show favouritism and give preferential treatment to employees. A lack of consistency in the leader’s treatment of employees destroys teamwork and trust.

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4. Becoming buddies with their employees

Leadership is about relationships but a leader must not develop a personal relationship to the extent that it compromises their ability to take command and show control when necessary. Unfriendliness can detract from effective leadership. A leader can be friendly without losing authority or compromising their position. A leader must demonstrate competence and vision and at the same time show a sincere interest in the well being of their employees. Anyone whose job is to influence people and direct them in their work must maintain friendly contact with the group.

5. Be threatened by the transfer of intellectual capital

To promote a team concept and an atmosphere that promotes confidence a leader must share ones thoughts, experiences, and knowledge along with coaching. This supports a culture of fellowship. A leader should share information whenever issues in ones realm of responsibility affect operations in other manager’s areas. A leader must not dodge the authority of managers reporting to them and neither should go around other managers.

6. Refuse an employee’s request without creating resentment

It is important for a leader to have the ability to say no without creating hostility. The key to accomplishing that objective is to recognize the request with sincerity and explain in detail why the request cannot be granted. Being sincere demonstrates concern and makes the leader’s personal regret believable.

7. Divulging confidential information

Confidentiality is another important element of leadership. Confidentiality is not an absolute obligation. Situations arise where the harm in maintaining confidentiality is greater than the harm brought about by disclosing confidential information. A leader must also have the ability to know when to maintain confidentiality of what has been disclosed in a closed room conversation.

To summarize, trust is the foundation of all healthy relationships. It is the confidence people have that the leader will predictably act in their best interest, never knowingly committing actions that might harm them. There is no single activity that will build trust; rather, the leader must establish trust over time by consistently exhibiting a number of behaviours and values listed above. Success is imminent for a leader who can accomplish that.

Building the team

Group and Team may seem to sound similar terms but in actuality they vary from each other. Often many people use them interchangeably it is important to distinguish one from the other. Below are two basic definitions of a group and team.

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A group is usually composed of 2-4 members that work interdependently with each other to a significant degree. They are committed to work together and willing to be handled by a leader. Though they are interdependent with each other but still they have individual responsibility that they have to perform, and that specific accountability, when done well, can help the group accomplish their goals.


A team is considered to work interdependently and is committed to achieve one common goal. They share the responsibilities and deliver results until they reached the conceived output of their efforts. They are usually composed of 7-12 members and are helping each other to develop new skills to which it can help improve their performance. They don’t usually rely on a leader for supervision.

Groups and teams can be seen in every organization. Below is an example of group and team found in the organization I work. A group can be formed by people in different departments or divisions (Sales, Finance, Marketing, Human resource) brought together to work simultaneously with each other. A team is formed by people within a department or divisions i.e. Finance Team (CFO, Financial Controller, Finance manager, accountants, and cashiers) working together towards a single unified task.

Group Formation

In our book Tuckman and Jensen draw on the movement known as group dynamics, which is concerned with why groups behave in particular ways. This offers various suggestions for how groups are formed and how they develop over time. The formation of some groups can be represented as a spiral; other groups form with sudden movements forward and then have periods with no change. Whatever variant of formation each group exhibits, they suggest that all groups pass through five sequential stages of development. These stages may be longer or shorter for each group, or for individual members of the group, but all groups will need to experience them. They are forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

The terms are pretty self explanatory. When a group is forming, participants can feel anxious not knowing how the group will work or what exactly will be required of them. Storming, as the word suggests, is when things may get stormy. Conflict can emerge, individual differences are expressed and the leader’s role may be challenged. The value and the feasibility of the task may also be challenged. After the storm comes the calm of norming, where the group starts to function harmoniously and where participants co-operate and mutual support develops. This enables the performing stage to occur where the work really takes off and the group accepts a structure and method for achieving the common task. When the group retires or adjourns, much learning happens through informal chat and feedback about the group performance. Tuckman and Jenson recognise that when groups dismantle themselves and the loose ends are all tied up, participants often go through a stage of mourning or grieving.

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Team Building

Team building is an ongoing process that helps a work group evolves into a cohesive unit. The team members not only share expectations for accomplishing group tasks, but trust and support one another and respect one another’s individual differences. The leader’s role as a team builder is to lead the team toward cohesiveness and productivity. A team takes on a life of its own and the leader must ensure to regularly nurture and maintain it.

Team building can lead to:

Good communications with participants as team members and individuals

Increased department productivity and creativity

Team members motivated to achieve goals

A climate of cooperation and collaborative problem-solving

Higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment

Higher levels of trust and support

Diverse co-workers working well together

Clear work objectives

Better operating policies and procedures

In summary comparing Group & Team, there is no one is better than the other. They basically are the same. A team can be described as a group of people that have a common goal and recognize that their success is depended on the success of others. Although a group is easier to manage and they are great for short term output, since they would divide the work amongst their skills, they can easily get the job done.

A team on the other hand works best for long term projects, since they work together as a whole equally distributing the tasks at hand regardless if they have the proper skills or not. This paves the way for the each member of the team to have ample time to develop abilities that can further enhance their performance as a whole. As a result of the length of time that the members spend with each other, it’s a good ground as well for fellowship within the team.

“Together Everyone Achieves More”

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