TRUST - Tough to Gain & Easy to Lose!

"The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him and the surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him and show your distrust" Henry L. Stimson

Trust underpins every relationship. An organization being a multifaceted web of interrelationships depends heavily on trust for its survival. When trust is present in an organization everything else falls in place. It makes communication effective and getting the best out of people that much easier. But when trust dwindles for any reason, ineffectiveness sets in almost instantly. In a bad economy safeguarding the trust of its people forms the biggest challenge faced by every organization.

I would like to share an example here- One of the senior executive from an Indian MNC went for a business deal. He was associated with the company for more than 15 years. He gave a call to his Manager regarding one of the query raised by the prospective customer before signing the deal. Manager asked him to take a decision and cited that his decision would be as good as his own. After much deliberations, they bagged that deal. This example, reflect the TRUST shown by the manager in his direct report. This does not come easily; it comes over a period of time. Had he been a flunky, the manager would never have shown that confidence to take a decision on his own. It is built over a period of time and is a function of rapport you share with the other person. One needs to invest time in nurturing the relationship and building a strong foundation. Learning certain principles of trust will help you to develop, nurture and grow trust in your organization.

Actions that foster Trust - As individuals we often trust others when we believe in their competence, honesty and integrity. Our past experiences play a key role in shaping our opinions about others. The same criteria apply
in case of an organization too. To build the trust of your people you must exhibit truthfulness and transparency in all your communications with the staff. Providing information about the rationale behind every decision made helps in maintaining trust.

Be Transparent - Hiding information or giving misleading information leads to mistrust. Trust gets created and preserved through many small actions over a period of time. So always act in such a way that you earn the respect and confidence of others. Though it is impossible to control the entire trust scenario if you work for a large organization, you can always try to make a positive difference to your corner of the world. Always remember that competence breeds trust. To uphold the trust in your team you must develop the right competencies in yourself as well as in your team members. Right competencies imply both technical excellence and good relation building skills. When everyone acts in a competent fashion with utmost integrity, trust automatically develops.

Share Credit with the Team- Always be willing to share credit with your team. It is your job to make the team excel. Accept the responsibility. But when it is time to bask in the glory of success, willingly share the limelight with the entire team. This will create immense trust in you. It also makes your job of getting things done through others easier in future. Fair actions form the basis of trust. Treat all employees in your work group equally. If few employees in your team lack discipline, do not allow them to get away with it. By taking prompt action to check indiscipline you earn the respect of all the members of the team.

Maintaining Trust in Turbulent Time- It is particularly challenging to maintain trust in a turbulent economy. In the face of large-scale layoffs and pay cuts, employers face the threat of losing the trust of their people. Looming uncertainty threatens to uproot the trust carefully nurtured over the years. But through open and honest conversations with your team you can maintain the trust intact. Gather as much information about your company’s future as you can and share with your team. Listen empathetically to what your team members have to say. You may not have all the information to address their concerns but an assurance from you that you are willing to work with them to find solutions can go a long way in preserving the trust. Difficult situations needs to be handled with transparency and empathy.

Be Selfless & Earn Trust- When you act not with self-serving motives but with the larger interests of the organization in mind you can easily win over the trust of your team. Every act counts in building trust. Even a single act of impropriety or carelessness can breach that trust you have built over the years. Once the trust is broken it may not be possible to rebuild it to the same level again. Since you cannot achieve anything in the absence of trust, see that every word you utter and every step you take only adds to your trust quotient and does not diminish it in any way. I remember a situation when I asked one of the senior Leader when I was young, Sir, Do you trust me? If yes, your shout yesterday was unwarranted as has been proven by the facts which came to your own attention later. A question I would like to ask you - How much you trust me? He said, sometime, I trust you 4 out of 10, sometime 6, it keep changing. I said, with all humility to your seniority, I tend to disagree. Trust index do not change like this. Trust is either there or not there. It does not fluctuate every day. I do believe the same even now.

Once a mutual trust based relationship is established between you and your employees, leading them becomes easy. The task of management is a cakewalk for a good leader. You can educate, counsel, inspire and motivate them. But you must also ensure that you do not through any action raise doubts about your trustworthiness.
As Warren E. Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. says, “It takes twenty years to build trust, and one minute to break it.”


  1. Good one thank you so much,


  2. Raj - Great article. Thanks !

  3. Anonymous1:57:00 PM

    I read it carefully and liked the examples quoted and could relate to it.


  4. Well said and it is very well showcased.Hope people maintain and retain Trust.

    Thank you for providing us an insight on this.

  5. Anonymous9:52:00 AM

    Hi Raj,

    Very Good article, Thanks for sharing with us it reflects the occurrence and efficiency.


  6. Hello Raj,

    First of all thanks for sharing such a beautiful artical. Points are put across in a right manner. Keep sharing the knowledge.

    Best regards,

  7. Anonymous2:12:00 PM

    Certainly good thoughts........ what is more important is the policy, process and behaviour of the organisation should reflect the same. If the policy and process doesnt support this, you will send contradicting signals which will hamper living it. If you have to sustain it, certainly it needs solid backing by policy, process & behaviour


  8. I especially liked "managing trust in turbulent times". I believe, the true character of any person/organisation is reflected in times of crisis....Raj you have wonderfully enlightened this point here.

  9. Hi Raj,

    Thank you for your insight on this basic nature of human beings. Being basic that it is, somewhere down the road we loose focus of it and by the time we realize it, its often too late.

    A point that I would like to add here is that to be able to earn trust one must inspire it. We often say that we work for the organization and not an individual - and the things that we do as a manager are in the larger interest of the organization. But I think we work for our customers, both external and internal, and as long as we are able to satisfy their needs, we will are able to build relationships. Relationships, as you rightly pointed out, inspire trust: if this bond is strong, I'm sure, a careless mistake cannot breach the trust.


    Neeraj K. Singh

  10. Anonymous8:57:00 PM

    Raj - great article. Loved your examples and perspective on trust. Thanks for sharing it.

    Alan Collins
    Success in HR

  11. Hi Alan,

    We in HR fraternity look upto you for your continuous guidance and support.

    Thank you for the encouragement.



  12. Hey Man...great to see your articles & inputs...always were gifted in putting meaning to words thru your thoughts...

  13. Rachna Tandon2:51:00 PM

    nice article