Trust is a necessary component to any team.  According to Patrick Lencioni in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team trust is the foundational attribute on which everything else must be built to form a successful team.

Although building this kind of trust takes time, here are a few quick ways that you can build trust with your workers.  These should not be the only ways you seek to build trust, but they are specific practices that can be used on a daily basis to build up trust over time.

1.  Ask questions about others

People love to talk about themselves and what’s important to them.  A quick way to build trust and rapport is to ask people questions.

“How was Jonah’s basketball game?”

“How’s your mother doing?”

“How many boxes of girl scout cookies has your daughter sold?” (Be careful, though, this one might cost you some $$!)

These questions do a couple of things.  One, it lets people know that you’ve been listening and paying attention to them beyond the work atmosphere.  Knowing and asking about their kids, spouse, family can be a quick and easy way to build rapport with your people.

2. Listen

One of the biggest ways to build trust is by listening.  Take 5 minutes and listen to a co-worker.  If the course of the conversation begins to turn negative (gossip or back-biting another worker), steer the conversation back in a more positive direction.

According to the Center for Conflict Resolution, listening to someone does several things:

  • stops arguments and defuse strong emotions,
  • helps the other person feel heard,
  • helps the other person to listen to you,
  • helps you persuade the other person,
  • improves relationships.

3.  Show concern for your team

Check in with your employees from time to time.  Don’t just ask about how their project or presentation is coming along.  Show concern for them as a person.  Is someone abnormally quiet or seem withdrawn?  Ask them if they are okay and take time to listen.  A simple question showing genuine concern can pay huge dividends down the road.

People want to know that you care about them beyond their contribution to the organization.  As a leader, you walk a fine line between compassion, understanding, and knowing that deadlines have to be met and the company does have to be productive and profitable.  However, if you have to sacrifice relationships in order to do that, then no one wins in the long run.

4.  Find common ground

It really doesn’t take long to build rapport with people.  There are very few people that I can’t find something in common with in a very short time of talking with them.  Sports teams, kids, favorite vacation spots, good books or authors, movies, and music are just some of the things you can talk about to see what you have in common.  You’re probably even connected by someone you both know (and it’s probably Kevin Bacon, by the way!)

5.  Ask people their opinion

“What do you think?” is a powerful question.  It builds trust by showing that you are truly interested in someone’s feedback.  People want to voice their opinion and feel heard even if you do not take their advice.

Asking other’s opinion can also be a benefit to you, the leader.  It will give you various perspectives from which you can make the best decision.  Someone may have thought of a unique insight that you hadn’t.  After you have heard several points of view, you can make the decision you feel is best.


These can’t be merely “tactics” to gain people’s trust.  Your team can sense if you really care or if you’re just going through the motions.  There must be a genuine interest behind these questions and trust-building techniques.  Otherwise, you may quickly lose the very trust you are trying to build.

Feedback:  What other ways do you build trust with your team?  What effective ways have you found to build a quick rapport with others?  Let us know in the comments below!