This year, communications marketing firm Edelman, found out that while people were losing trust in institutions like the government and the media, they were finding trustworthy relationships in their employers. Across regions, people rely on their employers to provide certainty, a sense of empowerment, and opportunities for personal growth. And the biggest source of trust at work is the team.

Teams form the base of most professional relationships, and the springboard for interactions with other departments. Therefore, team dynamics can play a huge role in making or breaking employee trust. And with trust comes the highest rates of loyalty, engagement, commitment, and advocacy. So, how do we work together to ensure this? Leading businesses show the way:

Direct communication

Airbnb became popular because it enabled hosts and guests to communicate directly. This,  to find a good deal or an experience that was in everyone’s best interests. Expectations would be clear right from the beginning and the reviews were honest. This kind of open, honest communication that sets expectations right from the start, helps reduce friction between co-workers. It increases empathy, and generates trust.


In the 1960s, Shingō Shigeo developed the Toyota Production System that enabled the company to reduce errors in their manufacturing process. The result was that Toyota cars till date are trusted for their quality and reliability. There’s a lesson in there, even if you are not working within a production setup. Reliability can build the ground for trust in a team, and members can support this by consistently performing tasks assigned to them, and using their ingenuity to make things better for their team. In fact, Michael Ballé, Co-founder of the Institut Lean France, says, that to feel confident and contribute well at work, employees need to feel responsible, feel safe emotionally, have to understand how their work adds up to the big picture, and how they can have some control over their environment and schedules. All these pieces add up to trust.


When sportswear giant Patagonia launched Footprint Chronicles to help their consumers know every aspect of the supply chain, they were going against industry trends known for environmentally disruptive fast fashion and sweatshop labor. But this move was to help consumers make purchase decisions based on their own values. In teams, transparency — about information such as the tasks each person does, where information comes from and how it is processed, the stakeholders in a project, and their individual agendas — can reduce blame and improve empathy, building trust along the way.

Today, when trust is in short supply across so many institutions, the trust we build as a team has the power to transcend the boundaries of the organization, and extend to customers and other external stakeholders as well. That kind of faith can transform businesses and the societies they operate in, and move the proverbial mountain. So why not take a chance, together as a team?

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