Trust in the workplace: How to know if your team trusts you or not

Written by: Ana Collantes | Edited by: Alison Robins
Published on January 12, 2021 | Reading time: 8m

We know that as a manager, you spend a lot of your energy building strong relationships with your team. Strong relationships often result in better performance, less stress, and a better workplace experience.

But, you cannot have strong relationships if your team doesn’t trust you.

Without employees’ trust, your role becomes difficult, and a sense of self-doubt can interfere with your ability to manage your team. According to Officevibe’s Pulse Survey data, 86% of employees trust their direct manager.

86% of employees trust their direct manager

– Officevibe Pulse Survey data

We want you to become part of that number by helping you to spot the signs that determine whether your team trusts you to manage them effectively or not, and show you how you can measure trust accurately.

How to identify if your team trusts you:

Does your team trust you? Are you actively building trust with your team member?

These questions can only be determined in 2 steps:

  1. A self-reflection of your team’s behaviours towards you as their manager
  2. A metric evaluation of employee trust

1. Self-reflection: spot symptoms of mistrust on your team 

The first step to determine if you have a trusting relationship between you and your employees is to self-reflect.

Symptoms that show high or low levels of trust in the workplace:

Ask the question…If your team doesn’t trust youIf your team trusts you
How do they respond to organizational changes? You’re not sure how they feel about the changes, but their actions show you that they strongly resist.They communicate with you their concerns but are open to embracing change.
Do they ever say “no” to certain things or challenge your ideas?They always say yes to everything. They feel they can’t disagree with you.They’ll say if something doesn’t fit their workload, and will express disagreement.
Do they let you know about mistakes or when things go wrong?They often hide mistakes from you, try to fix issues themselves, and only come to you when it’s critical. They also try to shift the blame to someone.They feel like mistakes are human. They notify you and move ahead to fix the problem. They own their mistakes and learn from them.
Does your team bring in new ideas?They often stay with the status quo. They do not feel they have the ability to voice new opinions or ideas.Your team is often pushing you to innovate. They feel like they can voice their craziest ideas.
Do they give you honest feedback?They don’t share their feelings, needs, or where they think you can improve as a manager. They are able to have difficult conversations with you and honestly share where they feel they need more support from you.

As we can see, building trusting relationships is a complex interpersonal aspect of your leadership and role as a manager. Spotting the symptoms that show a lack of trust in the workplace is step one.

Now, it’s time you ask your team directly.

Get our Communication guide to structure your objectives and express them with clarity

Effective communication guide for managers

2. Questions to evaluate levels of employee trust

Trust in the workplace is a metric that is measurable with the right set of tools.

At Officevibe, we believe it’s essential for managers to measure workplace trust and employee trust on an ongoing basis. This lets you quickly uncover any gaps in your efforts in building a trusting relationship with everyone in your team and any areas where trust might have been broken.

It might even shed light on the source of some of your team’s behaviours (such as low performance or a decrease in employee engagement).

Here are some science-based survey questions to ask your team in order to determine your employees’ trust levels. Note that in our tool’s Pulse Surveys, some questions appear on a sliding scale.

Ask your team:

  1. How would you rate your direct manager’s management skills? 
  2. I feel like my direct manager is aware of his/her employees’ pain points (scale)
  3. My direct manager cares about my well-being (scale)
  4. My direct manager is someone I can trust (scale)
  5. My direct manager treats me with respect (scale)
Image of a dashboard for the metric relationship with manager

Pro tip: Offering your team anonymity can play a key role in their openness to answer truthfully, and thus, have an impact on your ability to accurately measure their level of trust. Tools like Officevibe offer your team the ability to share their honest sentiments and answers.

Ask your team today: Sign up to Officevibe and send your first anonymous survey and evaluate your workplace’s levels of trust!

The positive impact of trust in the workplace

If after self-reflecting and asking your team you realize that there is in fact a lack of trust, you need to take immediate action.

Just think about a personal experience: Have you ever had a manager you couldn’t trust? What about a manager you trusted fully? How much did this impact your work? 

As a manager, it’s essential that you prioritize trust with your team from the outset, and then continue to nurture that trust most especially through times of change and growth. 

The benefits of trust 

🤝 Trust in the workplace helps with handling change.
🙌 Trust has the potential to decrease stress by 74% and burnout.
🤲 Teams that trust their managers have a 76% higher level of employee engagement
🤝 Trust in the workplace enables creativity and innovation.
🙌 Trusting relationships are at the base of successful difficult conversations

Given the above reasons, if trust is broken in your team, it’s time to focus on improving it.

We developed strategies you can implement to take action and build trust with your team.

8 ways to build trust with your employees

1. Create open lines of communication

Open communication helps you know employees’ daily realities and shifting needs. It also helps you spot the places where they need support, visibility, or a new approach.

How managers can create open lines of communication:

  • Ask for and receive feedback from your team often.
  • Take their feedback seriously and prioritize action.
  • Show with them your plans and rationale
  • Connect with them personally (1-on-1 meetings).

Did you know? 24% of employees using Officevibe report that their managers are not aware of their pain points. It is important to create strategies that allow you to keep up and help your team.

2. Practice transparency and visibility

Keeping your team in the dark about important information can result in a lack of trust, especially when it comes to big changes in your organization. The more pertinent information they have, the less anxious they will feel, and the more they will trust you.

How to be a transparent leader for your team:

  • Communicate big changes in the organization.
  • Share important information effectively and in a timely manner.
  • Make information easily accessible to your teams.

Get our Communication guide to structure your objectives and express them with clarity

Effective communication guide for managers

3. Offer trust by default

Trust goes both ways, and if you want your employees to trust you, you need to show that you trust them. When employees are empowered to leverage their strengths and expertise, it gives them the autonomy to do what they do best.

Tips to offer trust by default to your employees:

  • Do not micromanage! Check-in only at the planned touchpoints.
  • Establish clear objectives then trust your team to perform.
  • Remember that it’s your job to share objectives and the direction your team needs to go in while leaving how they get there up to them.

4. Own mistakes and failures

Mistakes are inevitable and often offer a big learning opportunity. Taking responsibility shows that you are just as human as the rest of the team and that there is always room for improvement.

How to own your mistakes like a champ:

  • Don’t be afraid to say “hey team, I’m in the wrong” when it comes to performance or even behaviors. Calling yourself out breeds a culture of open discussion rather than fear.
  • Come together with your team to unpack problems and learn through the process.
  • Frame mistakes as a learning opportunity from the get-go and be an active participant in the exercise.

5. Allow yourself to be vulnerable

To be vulnerable is to be human. Allow yourself to be yourself, to say when you are confused, or when you don’t have all the answers. For managers, being vulnerable sets an example to their team and betters collaboration.

Tips for being vulnerable with your team:

  • Be human and authentic. If you’re having a hard day, let them know.
  • Be open about not having all the answers. No one is perfect.
  • Ask for help when needed. Model this behavior so your employees know they can come to you for help too.

6. Over-communicate your trust in your team

Sometimes all it takes is to remind people that you trust them. A simple act of direct communication can empower your team to feel equipped to do their job.

Communication as a vehicle for trust:

  • During stressful times, remind your team of how much you all have accomplished.
  • During post-mortems, remind people of what they did right.
  • Use any opportunity to let your team members know how much you trust them.

7. Practice deep listening

A big part of trust is to feel like your team can talk to you. Practice deep listening so that you hear your team in a truthful and real way.

How to listen actively to your team:

  • Listen without judgment or preconceived ideas.
  • Summarize what people say to confirm you understood correctly.
  • Ask follow-up questions to get more information.

8. Build a culture of feedback

A feedback culture allows employees to have a voice, feel in control of their environment, and ultimately be heard by their leaders. This ensures that they are active participants in the betterment of their own careers and in your development as a manager.

How to build a feedback culture:

  • Ask for feedback about your role as a manager.
  • Share the results with your team.
  • Share with them your plan and take real action.


When you build strong foundations of trust in the workplace, your team will align around the central mission of their roles and put their best foot forward, so everyone can reach success—together. 

Officevibe metric dashboard

Don’t forget, you can start measuring trust on your team today in order to take action where it really counts. 

Try Officevibe for free!