In the News: Trust Your Audience

If you want your audience to trust you, show them that you trust them.

That’s the takeaway from a new article in Harvard Business Review. While the whole article is worth a read, here’s an executive summary of the science behind it:

. . . many employees say they do not feel trusted by their managers. And when employees don’t feel trusted, workplace productivity and engagement often suffer. It’s up to managers to signal trust in their employees in consistent and thoughtful ways. . . .


Employees who are less trusted by their manager exert less effort, are less productive, and are more likely to leave the organization. Employees who do feel trusted are higher performers and exert extra effort, going above and beyond role expectations. Plus, when employees feel their supervisors trust them to get key tasks done, they have greater confidence in the workplace and perform at a higher level.


In short, trust begets trust. When people are trusted, they tend to trust in return. But people must feel trusted to reciprocate trust. Managers have to do more than trust employees; they need to show it.

The rest of the article provides a clear roadmap for how leaders can signal trust and avoid signaling distrust, including sharing information, giving up (some) control, and helping your employees reach their goals. But in the end, it boils down to this one Tweetable insight: showing your audience you trust them and support their goals, they’ll be more likely to trust you and support yours.

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