How to ruin trust in the workplace

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Alexander Oweka

Lack of trust in the workplace

One of the biggest challenges any organization can face is a lack of trust amongst its employees. This lack of trust has been known to breed toxic work environments, as well as create petty rivalries that extend beyond the office. Also drama…lots of drama.

If you wake up on Monday morning, and the first thing that crosses your mind while preparing for work is, “great, another week of this mess”. You have probably had an encounter that caused you to lose trust in the people you call your co-workers.

According to a Forbes article by Shelly Smith, there are three directions of trust that workplaces need to be healthy:

  • The team must trust the leader, 
  • The leader must trust the team and
  • Team members must trust each other.

Just like respect, in any organization, trust is reciprocal. If you don’t trust your people, your behavior towards them would create a vicious circle. This would in turn cause them to look upon you with equal distrust.

What could you be doing wrong?

In any prolonged social interaction, it is likely we display certain habits that breed distrust in the minds of other people. That snarky comment you made about Sylvia’s blouse.


That time you dodged work, and Mark had to handle the presentation.

How about

When you weren’t clear with your expectations, and left Jade to figure out the proposal on her own.

You could also be

The type of person that emphasizes the importance of teamwork, but you single out John’s effort as the “most important.”

Oftentimes, it’s not even your fault. Just years of building unconscious habit and socially-adapted behavior. However, in a collaborative work environment, this behavior is a liability and needs to be set aside.

Lack of trust in the workplace is one of the main reasons why a lot of workers are disengaged. A poll by Toller Solutions discovered that 45% of people say lack of trust in leadership is the biggest issue impacting their work performance!

Toller Solutions

How to fix this problem?

  • In her article, Shelly Smith suggested a very great way of developing trust among team members (Lateral trust). She recommended letting people go. People who undermine the team and refuse to adjust their behavior, even if they occupy leadership positions.
  • Be specific with what you want at work. Communicate with clarity. Explain the “why” behind your requests. This ensures that there is no room for misinterpretation.
  • Try to understand the people you work with. Develop skills that improve your empathy. 
  • As a supervisor, stop micromanaging. Give your subordinates the opportunity to succeed or fail. Great managers understand that this is a great way for their subordinates to become better at their work. 
  • Make the workplace more open by instituting regular townhall meetings. Employees can say whatever they want here, they would be able to air their grievances and it would be addressed.
  • Employers can create an agile/cross-trained overall culture, and adjust their organizational structure from horizontal to vertical. This brings them closer to the team, and helps foster a sense of camaraderie.


Another great suggestion for building trust is team-building activities. Activities like, job and task sharing, rotating leads on projects and day-to-day work assignments and meeting facilitation. Part of our service offering at UnoCasa involves organizing dynamic team-building sessions that are guaranteed to improve workplace trust and productivity. We work with organizations by addressing problems (such as trust issues) and develop their Human Capital. After all, your people are your advantage. Reach out to us today for a free 1-hour HR Management Consultation. Click here for more information.

2 thoughts on “How to ruin trust in the workplace

  • Annie Benson

    Great Read Alex. Well done.

  • Shaniyi Oluwaseyi

    Nice one Alex, you did quite justice to this.. amazing bro!.


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