Change and uncertainty often foster an environment of fear which leads to a lack of trust. The lack of trust can slow things down and create a higher cost of doing business. Building trust and restoring confidence can significantly impact bottom line results. Here are some solid suggestions for building trust during a time of change.

Communicate honestly
Change and uncertainty create a dimly lit room from which everyone must try to see their place, their role, their responsibilities in regard to the organization and its employees and customers. Leaders need to shed light, to tell the truth often and consistently. Let people know where they stand and demonstrate integrity. When we manipulate people or distort the facts it destroys relationships as well as our own self image. Spinning the truth or leaving false impressions carries the same consequences. Confront issues and address challenges quickly.

Show respect
This behavior is the Golden Rule in action, a rule that is recognized by almost every culture and religion worldwide. What is the impact of speed and cost as it results to respect? Showing respect directly results in bottom line growth. One of the most powerful ways to show respect is to listen and understand another person’s point of view or position. See for an article on “Listening to Understand vs. Listening to Respond.”

Be transparent
Being transparent means being open and honest about motives and decisions. Everybody want to know the ‘why’ behind changes and decisions, the context and the rationale for change. Surveys suggest that the first key to restoring public trust is a “spirit of transparency.” We are not being transparent when we withhold information, have hidden agendas or cover up.

Show loyalty
There are many ways to show loyalty. Acknowledging people for a job well done or giving credit for an idea or solution will significantly increase trust and economic results. Also be loyal to the absent, talking about people when they are not present only destroys your own credibility.

Keep commitments
Following through may have the greatest impact on trust. In a study on business ethics “keeping promises” ranked the number one behavior in creating an ethical culture. This may sound like common sense but it is not always common practice.

Clarify expectations
To be clear about expectations we need to create a shared outcome and agree about what is to be done. This action can prevent frustration in the future. Clarifying expectations must be mutual, collaborative and agreed upon. We should never assume that expectations are clear or understood by everyone. One manner to effectively communicate expectations is a Position Results Description, a tool and training provided by my organization successfully for over ten years with clients. Going well beyond a typical job description, a PRD fixes accountability and minimum performance standards in writing in collaboration with your employees. The benefits are hiring better, coaching more effectively, less risks when firing, and greater productivity and effectiveness because of commonly accepted expectations.

Be accountable
Take responsibility or ownership. Accountability begins with us as we take responsibility for results and are clear about our expectations. When we are accountable we don’t blame or point fingers, we look for solutions. More information is available on accountability at

Extend trust
There is nothing that motivates or inspires people like having trust extended to them. When trust is extended, people don’t need to be managed -- they manage themselves. Extending trust is based on the principles of empowerment, reciprocity, and a fundamental belief that people are capable of being trusted. On the other hand people tend not to trust people who don’t trust them.

The truth is in every relationship – professional or personal – your actions or what you do has far greater impact than anything you say. You can say you respect someone but unless you demonstrate that respect through your actions, your words become meaningless.

“How can we be trusted with big things if we’re not trustworthy with things that are small? Don’t allow your finer instincts to become a casualty of the little everyday crimes of ethical compromise.” -- Morton C. Blackwell

Author's Bio: 

Charlie Breeding is President of Performance Improvement Institute, an Internet Information provider, publisher and professional speaking, coaching, consulting and training firm. Mr. Breeding is a graduate of the US Military Academy, West Point and has worked in the Performance Improvement area for over 23 years – fifteen years with Dale Carnegie Training, and two years with FranklinCovey. His clients include colleges/ universities, non-for-profits, small, medium-sized and large organizations such as AT&T, Chrysler, and Lucent Technologies. For organizations, more information can be obtained at and for individuals, go to