How To Inspire A Community Of Trust In Your Business


How much is it costing you to recruit and replace staff due to high staff turnover? The turnover and replacement of staff can be hugely costly to your business.

According to XpertHR's 2017 annual survey of labour turnover the average UK employee turnover rate in 2016 was approximately 10% a year. This varies drastically by sector and of course by the types, levels and skills of the jobs people are in.

The cost of replacing leavers depends upon their particular job, estimates ranging between £10,000 and £50,000; higher paid staff costing considerably more. Overall then, replacing leavers is costly, plus the loss of knowledge, expertise and experience.

Common sense tells us that staff are more likely to leave when they are unhappy. One of the most significant factors influencing staff satisfaction is a lack of an environment or community of trust within the business. Trust is more than just rules.

So why would you drive people out of the business and lose all their knowledge, expertise and experience that is vital to sustaining your success? Admittedly it is not easy to maintain, let alone create, a community of trust within a business.

According to Warren Buffett,

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.

Let’s look at six factors that influence the creation and maintenance of a trusting working environment.


Frankly if owners, directors and managers do not behave in a manner that inspires trust they deserve what’s coming to them in terms of staff turnover, the associated costs and the loss of knowledge, expertise and experience.

It’s not easy. It’s especially difficult if trust has been destroyed by business-as-usual practices including blame, secrecy, disrespect, discrimination, micromanagement, egocentricity and broken promises; especially the latter.

More fatal to the business there is often an absolute focus on the short-term to the detriment of quality and the total customer experience that drives customers away. Too often this is justified as meeting the demands of the stock market.

OK. Not every business leader has any or all of these mistakes, but just as harmful is the passive “We’ve always done it this way”.

Enough of these “negative waves”! What else can you do to build a community of trust in your business?

If you are serious about employee retention and building trust just look in the mirror. Inspiring your teams starts with you setting a good example. Do you walk the talk? You cannot expect people to behave in a certain way if you don’t do it yourself.


Your people are your business. Recognising the uniqueness of people does take conscious time and effort. These both are absolutely necessary to build trust. People’s natural ability to deal with particular roles will vary. Critically success depends on everyone.

Take an airline check-in desk agent. Not everyone is able to deal with passengers in that brief contact. However, as Jan Carlson former CEO SAS Airlines writes in his book ‘Moments of Truth’ the encounter can colour passenger opinions of the whole airline.

People have strengths even in the most basic role. In two previous jobs, one in a large corporation and another in an SME, experience showed me that even the apparently routine job of the janitors can be a key to an operation running smoothly.

Given the opportunity to contribute and play to their strengths people can contribute to amazing results. Recognizing people’s unique strengths means you actually have to care about people.


Inspiring a community of trust in a business starts with leaders and managers taking responsibility and ownership for moving in that direction. Ownership of actions conveys positivity instead of the negativity and blame associated with accountability.

It is essential that owners, directors and managers at all levels take responsibility and ownership of their work. Behaving in this way should inspire everyone in the business or any other organisation for that matter to do likewise.

Giving responsibility is one of the cornerstones of building a community of trust and one of the keys to employee engagement. Giving responsibility says, “We trust you to do a good job that will contribute to our future success”.

It should go without saying that a person given responsibility must have the know-how to do the job. The person must never be ‘cast adrift’. Ongoing coaching support is essential, as are continuing reviews and feedback.

The downside of giving responsibility is that things will almost always go wrong at some point. It is critical in that case to avoid blaming and instead help the person learn from their experience to prevent it happening again.


Trust is built by sharing information by being open and sharing as much information as you can. Having taken responsibility and ownership above, openness and honesty means all levels admitting not knowing all the answers and acknowledging mistakes.

Openness and honesty also means acknowledging and sharing the bad news. Perhaps there has been a big change in the marketplace, possibly an innovation by a competitor. Bad news could mean acknowledging a legislative or ecological change.

Clearly promises should be kept. Changes in circumstances may make it impossible to keep a promise. When that happens it is critical to tell people as soon as possible that the situation has changed and it is not possible to keep the promise.


Communication is an essential part of trust within organisations, a point echoed by billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson who pulls no punches when he writes:

Communication makes the world go round. It facilitates human connections, and allows us to learn, grow, and progress. It's not just about speaking or reading, but understanding what is being said -- and in some cases what is not being said. Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.

To be truly effective communication has to be two-way. Proper attention is necessary when listening as well as talking between all parties and levels within an organisation. Really hear what the other is saying; ensuring that you pick up nonverbal communication, the body language.

You know the saying; you have two ears and one mouth and should use them in that ratio. What trust do you have in someone who does not really listen to you?


It should go without saying that ongoing learning by everyone in a business or other organisation is essential to survival in today’s fast-moving, high-tech world.

What contributes toward building a community of trust is managers really engaging in Personal Development Reviews (PDR) with each member of their team. This is not traditional appraisal, which is usually a manager judging their team members.

PDRs are about jointly carefully considering how to develop a person’s capabilities for the present and future. It should show that a manager cares. Management must really embed PDRs and ring-fence the budget, which will really contribute to building trust.

Here’s the bottom line. If you are part of the leadership of a business, inspiring and building a community of trust in your business is your responsibility and it is one that you must truly own. The payoff will be increased performance, profitability and a sustainably successful future.

It’s not easy. It’s especially difficult if trust has been destroyed by business-as-usual practices like blame, secrecy, discrimination, disrespect, micromanagement, etc.

Six practices that can help you develop a community of trust are:

  1. It starts at the top, especially honesty and transparency

  2. Recognizing peoples' unique strengths at all levels

  3. Responsibility and ownership

  4. Openness and honesty

  5. Listening and talking

  6. Learning and development

In the end you do actually have to genuinely care about other people to inspire trust.

Hope you have enjoyed this blog and found it useful. If you have any questions do please use the contact page in the menu. Do please share this blog with your friends, colleagues and connections. Looking forward to sharing next month’s blog with you. Thank you for reading this blog.