How to Build Trust at Work

building trust

A Year in the Life of a Manager Development Programme | Part Four

In this, the fourth instalment of the ‘Manager Development Programme: A Year in the Life’ series, I’m going to look at the issue of building trust in the context of developing relationships with new employees.

In my last post you’ll remember that the participants on the Programme decided to call the work we’re doing, “The Carlsberg Programme (If Carlsberg made places to work).”

This was brilliant as it set a positive tone moving forward.

New Managers Need Support

So, where are we up to with the Manager Development Programme?

Well, the group I’m working with is made up of relatively new managers. And by the nature of their consultancy roles, there is a lot of fluidity when it comes to people working on projects day-to-day, reporting to a specific project lead and then moving on to other things.

A traditional line manager holds a great responsibility for his or her staff, conducting performance reviews, holding career conversations and actioning development plans.

With consultancy roles, project leads are not in a position to play that role. Their priority is to the project, ensuring quality delivery to the client. So it’s down to the manager to focus on the employee, evaluating their overall contribution to the company and helping them to realise their potential and satisfy their career ambitions.

And since at this stage the management relationships for this client were brand new, it was important to look at communication and how building trust into those relationships would benefit all involved. In this way, I also knew that their work would progress in a way that would be both effective and efficient.

Building Trust, Forging Relationships

I decided to use two models to help the managers to begin to develop trustworthiness in the eyes of their employees and to enable them to get to know one another quickly.

The first model was The Trust Equation. This is an analytical model developed by Charles Green, author of The Trusted Advisor. It looks like this:

The Trust Equation

(Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy)



= Trustworthiness


In this model:

Credibility is linked to how well we use our words, how effectively we communicate; our honesty and our presence.

Reliability is linked to our actions. It’s rooted in consistency, predictability and feelings of familiarity.

Intimacy takes the form of feelings of safety. It’s the knowledge that one can entrust someone with something and it will be respected.

When we talk about Self-Orientation, Green is referring to whom we choose to focus on in a particular situation: ourselves or other people. His theory is that by displaying care for the people around us, we display a low level of self-orientation, which is a positive thing.

By focusing on the needs of others, we can make the biggest difference to how much or how little they trust us.

Valuable insights

Using this model gave the participants valuable insights into the concept of trustworthiness. Together we explored the idea that the only thing we as individuals can influence is our trustworthiness. And that how much others choose to trust is beyond our control.

The DiSC Model

The second model I used in this session was The DiSC Model, which explores both styles of communication and social interaction. I did this to start to generate feelings of empathy between the managers and their employees.

I find this model to be an invaluable way to explore the fact that no two people are the same and that each of us will come to a situation from a very different place and viewpoint.

DiSC stands for:

Dominance – people who want others to be direct and straightforward in their communications

influence – people who want others to be friendly and emotionally honest and to recognise their contributions

Steadiness – people who want others to be relaxed, agreeable, cooperative and appreciative

Conscientiousness – people who want others to minimise their socialising, give details and value accuracy

Doing this exercise allowed the managers to see where they were different from each other, and highlighted ways in why they might be different from the employees they were managing.

For example, one participant was very much a ‘headlines only’ person and dealt with ‘the bigger picture,’ whereas another was driven by details and fine print. It was easy to see how these two people might clash when working together towards a deadline.

Feedback and Thoughts

Using the two models to structure this session garnered a lot of positive feedback. Participants said that they’d taken away a number of key insights and learning points that included:

“The content around the DiSC Model types. It helped me to better frame why certain relationships work better than others.”

“Guidance on approaching the different styles, I always knew everyone was different and needed to be managed differently but didn’t quite know how.”

“Different types of people need different management approaches.”

Key Takeaways

At the end of this first workshop, I sought the participants’ thoughts and feedback in order that I could reflect on what progress we’d made and how I might proceed. I asked the group what key actions they were going to take as a result of attending the day’s events. They responded with a number of interesting points:

“I now understand which DiSC styles my reportees fall into and can see how I need to adapt my management style to suit them.”

“I can take a step back to remember that everyone is different – with different qualities.”

“I can create a plan of management styles for each member of my team.”

And when asked what they liked about the workshop, they said:

“It was taught in a practical rather than theoretical way, which I can see myself using and applying on a day-to-day basis.”

“It was interactive and talking about real life experiences was really good.”

“There was excellent interaction – I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable.”

So, moving forward, we’re in a good place.

What do you think about the progress we’ve made so far? I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can follow the full series here.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Blog Posts

Almost empty office with 3 people sat at a desk in the centre - 7 Career Management and Mentoring Challenges to Overcome in 2023

7 Career Management and Mentoring Challenges to Overcome in 2023

As we enter the third year since the pandemic started, we are seeing that the changes caused by COVID-19 are having a lasting impact in the workplace. In 2023, organisations will be more diverse, distributed and virtual than ever before. Organisations need to adapt to this changing world of work while addressing other challenges. Those

Read More »
Trust Matters – Why is it so important in the workplace? woman wityh mug saying worlds best boss

Trust Matters – Why is it so important in the workplace?

We are very privileged to support the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with their Virtual Career Lab (VCL) series.  The VCLs are more than webinars.  They provide exercises, tools and guidance on a range of career development topics. A few weeks ago, I delivered one on the subject of “Trust Matters” so I thought I’d

Read More »
Scroll to Top

New Book!

Empower your employees for career growth and retention. Download the first chapter free today.

confident career conversations book Cover by Author Antoinette Oglethorpe