Two simple words that carry a lot of weight.

Trust me.

If you’re at work and someone says “trust me”. What’s your reaction?

Can I?
No way.
I don’t know you.
What do you really want?

Why is trust important at work? Trust is important at work because you need to know that the person down the hall is as committed to the work as you are. You need to know that they’re also willing to go the extra mile for that client or customer. You need to know that if you need help on something that you can ask a colleague.

Is it important to trust someone beyond work? I think so. For me, there are two levels of trust at work – the business (work) trust and the personal trust. I believe it’s equally important to build trust on a personal level. There’s a lot of talk these days about work-life balance and I believe having trusting relationships at work can take away some of the stress of the work.

If I’ve built personal trust with my colleagues, I can know when they’re having a tough time and need help or a pick-me-up. I know if this person is someone that I could collaborate with on a project. I know when to tell them Happy Birthday! I believe work can be more fun if you really know your colleagues.

This all sounds great, but how do you build trust with your colleagues? Or with your employees?

I would start by asking myself: Do they really know me? (Remember: beyond work.)

Do they know I have two children? Do they know I’m a runner? Do they know I love Mexican food (and margaritas)? Do they know my Starbucks order? Do they know what movie makes me laugh no matter how many times you’ve seen it? Do they know what keeps me awake late at night? Do they know what energizes me?

It sounds dangerously close to an online dating form. I’m not joking though.

People want to be known.
People want to be seen.
People want to be heard.
People want to know that someone (you!) cares.

I’m not suggesting you become everyone’s friend at work, that’s not realistic or probably even possible. I’m suggesting that you be open to sharing more of yourself with your colleagues or employees. Part of sharing more of yourself is also doing things that show you care for those around you.

Need some ideas on what to do? Start today. Start small.

  • Go ask one or two people to grab lunch with you. Try and spend most of the time not talking about work. (I know this one is hard!)
  • Bring a colleague their favorite Starbucks drink on a cloudy day.
  • Ask someone about their weekend.
  • Offer to help someone on a project
  • Pick up the phone sometimes rather than sending an e-mail. It’s more personal.
  • Give a compliment once in a while – on a job well done, on someone’s new haircut – it doesn’t matter– remember, people want to know (and hear!!) that they are seen.

These ideas aren’t new. It’s simply about being human and treating others with compassion – even our colleagues and employees because remember – they’re people too.

What are some other things you could do to start building a relationship of trust at work?