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Trust in uncertain times (Part 3)- how organisations scale trust

In our third instalment of addressing psychological safety and building trust in the workplace, we provide practical tips that everyone in the workforce can rally around and apply to navigate the uncertainties of “getting back to work”.

When practised well and done with intentionality, it results in higher employee engagement, Net Promoter Scores (eNPS), productivity and sales growth. These do not just make the company a better place to work at but also positively impact the bottom line.

Organisational research has identified psychological safety as a critical factor in understanding how people collaborate to achieve a shared outcome. You can go back and read our Part 1, which focuses on leaders’ tips and tactics, and Part 2, which gives advice directly to managers for developing a higher sense of psychological safety in the office.

Although it seems more natural that building trust will only fall on leaders and managers, that could not be further from the truth. All members of an organisation have just as much power to build their own psychological safety tactics as well as become an informal leader and influencer in the company to enact positive change and create a better work environment for all.

Here are our final 11 tips for how team members at ALL levels of a company can build trust within your company:

1. Give grace. This is the time to give grace for all that you have, even with all that you may have lost. But, it is also the time to demonstrate grace for the opportunity you have to be part of something and gainfully employed. Be understanding that your boss does not have the answers or the clear road map nor does the workforce have the answers. Mistakes will be made. This is the time to eliminate the rigid view of role and embrace flexibility and become more adaptable.

2. Seek the vision. The company vision is critical. Most times, it is used for strategy reasons and put on posters or on the website. During times of dislocation, vision becomes one of the key tether points for leadership and most importantly, for the workforce. There is a saying from Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any old map will do.” The map is important so making a concerted effort to seek vision (if the organisation’s leadership is not already offering it) provides hope, something to aspire to and to rally around.

3. The shoe fits. Set expectations and be part of the culture and the movement that is required to move it forward. The shoe fits is how we view culture – we all wear it everywhere and every place we go. Wear it with pride. Culture is non-negotiable. Live up to the standards – and believe in what the company expects, even if it is “different than how we used to do it”. Be honest and do not shortcut yourself or your team-mates.

4. Orientation for all. It is important that you as a member of the company lean in and welcome change. This is a chance to reorient yourself around the company vision and direction. Most important, it is your chance to reset behavioural and cultural expectations. Remind yourself where you contribute and fit.

5. Encourage creativity. Innovation does not belong to a leadership group or select few. Support team members in what they are expected to do and encourage them to find new ways to complete work, to collaborate, and to embrace creative thinking and actions.

6. Practice strategic patience. This is an art and not patience for patience’s sake. Detours inevitably happen. The future is imperfect and there will be wrinkles in workflow, decisions, and operations. In times of dislocation, those that understand and can remain focused on the long game will yield the best and most strategic outcomes.

7. Healthy Space. Be intentional with your spaces. Think about your responsibility to not only keep it clean but also, rethink how your space allows for creativity and interaction. Maybe now is the perfect time to declutter and add something that inspires joy to your workspace. Say goodbye to silos and hello to collaboration.

8. Remote Control. Leaders and employees have learnt to trust each other while working remotely. Working remotely is not perfect but is at times necessary. Working in the office is not perfect either. Be OK with the changing protocols to help with this “remote control” and at the same time, communicate when you feel like those protocols are barriers to empowerment and trust.

9.P.I.C. One. Be someone who helps volunteer and lead the way. Many things that contribute to a healthy work environment need a sub-committee and therefore a Person-In-Charge. This is not just a HR or leadership responsibility, this is a chance for you to shine and show your best stuff. The basic message today is that everyone can be essential and can have a role to ensure the health of the office.

10. Immunity. No one is immune from the anxiety that has permeated our society. It is vital for our health and mental wellbeing to identify release valves to let go of the stress so that we can more effectively navigate the chaos and withstand the misinformation. We are all human. We are all going to face challenging days and challenging thoughts. Lean into the support you will get from your colleagues and pay it forward where possible to others who may need you now.

11. Positivity is the glue that binds. Positivity is everyone’s responsibility to focus on and improve on. Recognise that positivity is not simply being happy. Positivity is a science that includes inspiration, mindfulness, gratitude, happiness, and optimism. One or more can be off in any given moment – but you can still be positive. Positivity becomes the most powerful connector to other people and to your desired future state.

For many of us, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we are not out of the woods, yet. Our “back to normal” will never be the normal we were used to before, but by leaning into these tips and using creativity to improve your engagement and trust within your organisation, the “new normal” has the potential to be better than before.

Learn more about the organisational research at the Bermuda Clarity Institute:


Moment of Clarity: Stuart Lacey on how organisations scale trust (File photograph)

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Published February 21, 2022 at 7:33 am (Updated February 21, 2022 at 7:33 am)

Trust in uncertain times (Part 3)- how organisations scale trust

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