Dane Sanders

How to Help People Trust You at Work

published5 months ago
5 min read

Hey Trustworthy

You’re at the airport, racing to your gate. Then, you see it: The coffee shop.

Having the morning you had, and after successfully navigating security, you’re seriously ready for a cup. It almost feels like you deserve it. The line is long, but you’re hoping it will move quickly.

As you wait, it occurs to you that this one move may jeopardize your flight. Then, you consider the alternative of making your flight but only with in-flight coffee available. The decision becomes clear: It’s worth the risk.

Ten more minutes pass, and the line has barely moved. You do the calculus, and the wait still seems worth it. After a few more minutes, the line slowly begins to bend toward the counter. You’re hopeful, almost tasting the Americano in your imagination.

Besides, given the tough labor market, you assume there must not be enough baristas. Poor folks. That has to be why this is taking so long, right?!

Then you discover the real reason for the delay. The line isn’t what’s slow. It’s the staff.

Despite a whole and able crew, the team appears to be sleepwalking through sludge. There’s no apparent urgency on anyone’s face. They’re like zombies going through the motions.

“Don’t they understand what’s going on?” you think. “Literally, everyone here has somewhere else in the world to go.”

Despite their fancy machines, systems, and extensive training, these workers aren’t getting the job done fast enough. With your cup finally in hand, you realize your flight is delayed too. The only upside is this gives you some time to think, “What would I do differently if this was my coffee shop?”

For kicks, you imagine showing up on the scene as the store’s new supervisor.

What do you do?

Even with a line around the corner, you’re not deceived by this high demand. Your store is losing. Would-be customers are either giving up on the line or giving into a narrative that your brand doesn’t care what it’s putting the customer through.

You decide you need to speed things up. Not just for the rush at hand but the future of the shop. But, what exactly are you speeding up?

The temptation is to start cracking the whip, pressuring the staff to work harder and faster. That approach would be understandable, but you know it’s not a long-term fix.

There’s something else. An entirely different resource that needs to move faster. You’re convinced that if you “it” right, everything else will fall in line.

Previously on TMYD

Last time we offered you, the leader, ten easy ways to get more by doing less.

Today’s edition has the same theme, with a twist: How to get more bang for your buck. Only this time, it’s not just about you. It’s about your staff and customers getting more from your leadership.

It turns out that the highest return on investment you can make with your team is to increase the speed of trust. This isn’t a new idea. Stephen Covey was making this point back in the ’80s. If 'The Great Resignation' is any indicator, putting this idea into practice is not so common.

How your team performs may be prioritized, but having the requisite trust to make that happen daily is often assumed. In our current business climate, that assumption is a mistake.

So, today’s newsleader is about increasing the speed of trust as efficiently as you can. Before that, though, there are a few precursors to that happening.

First, everyone on your team needs to feel like they’re surviving before they will voluntarily strive in their job. Think Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs.’ People can’t aspire to greatness until they feel some sense of stability. Trust can’t start until people feel safe.

Once people feel safe, they’re more willing to take a risk. When employees do the least to get by, it’s often a survival strategy. That’s what was going on at the coffee shop. Your first job as the leader is ensuring employees experience safety as a precursor to trust.

Second, moving from surviving to thriving doesn’t happen automatically. It takes some critical inputs for that shift to happen naturally and consistently. And, it’s easier than you think.

When you focus on helping people feel safe (support) combined with a call to greatness (challenge), the two combine to build relational trust in your company culture quickly.

So, with these understandings in place, here are five things you can do right now to get more from your team, all while complaining less and cracking fewer whips…

Five Things You Can Do Today to Increase Your Team’s Speed of Trust

  1. Help people feel safe by being clear about what they’re supposed to do to be successful. Make the implicit explicit. When employees know what they are supposed to do, they relax, settling into the job without distraction.
  2. Help people feel safe by regularly giving honest feedback on what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. This isn’t about building self-esteem. This is about giving your employee a real sense of reality. By consistently telling the truth about how they’re doing (think: weekly), they will know where they stand and be clear about what needs improvement. This clarity guides them to a minimal viable standard they can build from organically.
  3. Help people take reasonable risks by casting a clear, compelling, and noble vision of what super-success could look like. What makes a vision clear and persuasive is a reflection of who benefits most. Make that benefactor the customer. That’s who your employees want to work for. In the words of Donald Miller, make the customer the hero. You are the guide.
  4. Help people take risks by rewarding behavior that enhances the customer experience, especially if it’s outside of policy. Remind individuals of the difference they’re making when they go above and beyond the call of duty. Increase their status on staff when they do the wrong things for the right reasons. Explain why these are reasonable exceptions to the rules.
  5. Help people believe you’re serious by living out what you expect of them. Be trustworthy yourself. The more you model being safe while striving for the customer, the more they’ll want to do the same.

What’s at stake

Whether they know it or not, every great company* trades on relational trust. If you don’t cultivate it, you are guaranteeing a mediocre culture. When you assume trust is present, you miss the least expensive investment you can make to your leadership.

Once people trust they’re doing the right thing for a leader who’s the real deal, they’ll perform at levels you didn’t even know possible.

Next time on, I’ll be doing a recap of Season One so you can have cash in on everything in one elegant newsleader. Think of it as a season-finally where I do the TL;DR for you.

Thanks for reading.


P.S.—*For more on becoming a great company, check out our free mini-video course.

P.S. — If you’re interested in increasing your ability to do hard things in every area of your life (every single day), this is your last call for Men and Women Of Discomfort ( this quarter. We launch the Q3 edition in just a few days. Questions about whether or not this is for you? Ask me here.

Dane Sanders is CEO of His team of certified mental health professionals and coaches - trained in TMYD's motivation modality - offer workshops tailored for organizations looking to become great. Tom Rodriguez is TMYD's Chief Mental Health Officer. Comments, questions, and inquiries are always welcome at

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