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Team Management: Building and Rebuilding Trust


 Trust and confidence are always built over time.


Team Management.
Showing your team you are trustworthy and then proving it over and over again is the only way to build long-lasting trust. The same goes for them!  But first, you must be a role model for trust. To find out how you rate, ask yourself:
Man in pink polo
  • Do people confide in you?
  • Do you keep their confidences?
  • Do people seek your advice?
  • Do you admit to your mistakes?
  • Do you take credit for the work of others?
  • Do you accept others for who they are?
  • Do you gossip or spread rumours?
  • Do people seem to trust you?
  • Do you believe you are trustworthy?

  Look at your answers and decide where you might need to improve your own skills. Be aware, any progress you make can be lost in an instant through broken promises, hurtful remarks or personal betrayals.  So be careful!  Your organisation’s Codes of Conduct and Codes of Ethics are great tools for defining expectations of trustworthy behaviour. These are documented and agreed behavioural, ethical and moral standards, and will show everyone that you and your team live by the bonds of trust. If you are new to a leadership role or a team, try the following methods as a start: 

  • Explain performance expectations
  • Listen to their views, ideas and opinions and act on those that you can
  • Don’t over-promise, it won’t win anyone over in the long run
  • Be consistent in your behaviour and don’t react badly to problems
  • Act to resolve any unhealthy team conflict rather than letting it simmer


Rebuilding Trust

At some point, you or your team will do something that breaks trust.  When that happens, it must be dealt with openly, honestly and quickly if the relationship is to be rebuilt. Remember, there is a big difference between mistakes and breaking trust. One-off mistakes or “lapses in judgement” happen, and should be accepted as such. However, if trust is truly broken, the quickest way to get it back is to:

  • Openly acknowledge the mistake or error in judgement
  • Own up to it (take responsibility)
  • Explain what happened if you can
  • Apologise to the team/person if appropriate

Once this occurs, you must show by word and action that you are still trustworthy.  Do this and the trust will come again over time. The more serious the “breach of trust” the longer it will take to rebuild it, so be patient but stay consistent. As the leader, if you fail the team’s trust, you must work very hard and hope they will allow trust to reform.  However, if someone on your team breaks trust with you, you must not only allow the member to rebuild that trust, but actively encourage it. Your team member must know there is a pathway back even if it takes time and demonstrated effort to get there.  

In culturally diverse teams, the trust factors can be tricky

Silence can be misinterpreted, languages are different, body language clues vary, face-saving issues are mishandled, attitudes to deadlines vary, and the role of the “boss” differs. As a leader of a multicultural team, recognise that building trust between different people is a complex process, since each culture has its own way of building trust and its own interpretation of what trust is.

Lady standing in boardroom So take the time to get to know your team, pay attention to how people act, share what you learn and help everyone understand the benefits of diversity far outweigh the costs.

      Excerpt from Diploma of Customer Engagement   For more information on how The Australian College of Commerce and Management can help you and your business with any training needs - Call 1800 111 700, email or visit –  

Rachel Flannery