Merge's Blog

Build workplace trust by doing the right thing, even when no one is looking

Regular readers of the blog know that I often talk about the importance of building workplace trust.  In fact, I last blogged on this subject when I posed the question: How can you build trust in the workplace? (and offered four ideas).  Today I am very fortunate to have Lea Brovedani guesting on the blog.  Not only is she a professional colleague and my friend, but she is also an expert in trust and emotional intelligence!  Her focus is on helping people in organizations implement trust strategies so they can build teams that are trusted by those inside and outside their organizations.  Today she tells us about the 5 C’s of trust.

Consciously and deliberately building trust is important.  Think of it as “show and tell” for grownups but with much bigger consequences than a grade on an elementary school report card. The evaluation you get can affect whether or not people are willing to follow you and how well you succeed in your career.  People will hear what you say but they are watching what you do to make sure the two line up. When it comes to trust, they want you to show them through your actions and behaviours before you tell them to trust you.

Trust is a willingness to be open and vulnerable based upon positive expectations you believe you will receive from the other person.  You can improve trust by following the 5 C’s of trust. They are:

  1. Caring:  People will trust and support you if they know you truly care about them. Caring can show up in how you connect with others. Caring leaders give credit to their employees and challenge them to reach new levels. When we care we lead with the heart and the head.
  2. Commitment:  Showing up is an essential part of commitment. Keep your commitments no matter how small or large. When you can’t keep a commitment you have to communicate and ask to be released from it.
  3. Consistency: Consistent leaders evaluate themselves and make sure their words and actions are congruent.  Are you congruent? Everyone has off days so if you do fly off the handle, circle back and take ownership of the inconsistency. Imagine a leader who bases his platform on being open and approachable and won’t listen to his staff or attend meetings. Decide what your values are and use them to make decisions. It will help to guide you and keep you constant.
  4. Competence: People will question your competence if they don’t see it in action. When people can see that you know what you are doing, they extend trust. Your competence is developed through experience and requires work. Don’t be satisfied with mediocre. Be the best you can be.  Keep your skills fresh by being a lifelong learner and listener.
  5. The previous four competencies are based on a solid foundation of communication. Sometimes you can’t communicate because of privacy issues but your staff must be able to trust that you have their best interests at heart. If you say there is nothing going on and your actions, and the actions of the company say differently, then you are creating a trust deficit.  The show doesn’t match the tell. Trust your employees with the ability to handle the truth even if the truth is they can’t have all of the information. Don’t sugarcoat and say things are great if they are not.  Share what you can when you can. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say”.

Well, what has been your experience with building and maintaining trust?  Are you unfortunate enough to work in an organization where trust is low or even non-existent?  Which of the 5 C’s of trust has been violated?  Please add your Comments below.

Lea Brovedani is the author of Trusted: A Leader’s Lesson.  Find out more about Lea’s book and her programs at her website:

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