From Shattered to Rebuilt: Repairing Broken Workplace Trust

Trust is vital in the workplace:

When trust is strong between coworkers and with leadership, work just seems to flow more smoothly. People feel comfortable being themselves, collaborating, and just getting their work done. But when trust is impacted, things can get messy fairly quickly.

In this post, let’s talk about what happens when trust at work is shattered. How it impacts people and the work environment. And then, how to move forward in a positive way. Because while trust at work may ebb and flow, there are always ways to repair and rebuild it over time.

How The Shattering of Trust Impacts People at Work

Trust is the superglue that binds teammates and leaders together. So when it’s broken, people tend to withdraw and isolate themselves. Morale plummets. Doubt, anxiety, and fear start to creep in. People feel like they have to constantly watch their back or they feel they can’t rely on others. Not exactly an uplifting or productive headspace.

Some common ways the shattering of trust impacts people at work:

  • Increased stress and tension. People feel uneasy and on edge when trust is broken. This can really dampen morale and enthusiasm.
  • Lack of communication and collaboration. People hide information, shy away from giving input, and avoid collaborating. Creativity and innovation suffer without open sharing of ideas.
  • Less engagement and productivity. When trust isn’t there, people start disengaging from work. They do the bare minimum to get by and productivity can grind to a halt.
  • More conflicts and gossip. Trust issues often spark conflict, gossip, and negative speculation about motives. This can stir up workplace drama.
  • High turnover. Folks start looking for the exits when they don’t trust leadership or coworkers. Losing good people due to broken trust can be a huge setback.
  • Cynicism sets in. Consistent distrust breeds pessimism and cynicism. People assume the worst intentions behind every action. Toxic mentality that infects the culture.

The shattering of trust shifts from open and supportive to closed off and suspicious. Not exactly an environment where people feel inspired or empowered to do their best work.

Ways To Start Rebuilding Trust

Now that we’ve covered what’s negatively impacted when trust at work is shattered, let’s talk about starting to repair the damage. Trust can be rebuilt over time if people are willing to put in the effort. Here are some positive ways forward:

  • Lead with transparency. Leaders need to be more open about plans, expectations, and decisions. Explain the why behind things. Don’t hide information that impacts people.
  • Show accountability. Own mistakes sincerely. Discuss how processes can improve. Don’t sweep issues under the rug or pass the buck. Take responsibility.
  • Emphasize open communication. Create more space for candid dialogues. Don’t shoot messengers that deliver hard truths respectfully. Listen first, judge later.
  • Build rapport and empathy. Make an effort to relate to coworkers on a human level. Recognize different working styles and communication needs. Practice compassion.
  • Reset expectations. Clarify roles, responsibilities and priorities openly. Get alignment to avoid confusion. Renegotiate goals and workflows if needed.
  • Focus on the work. Keep critiques about work products and leave personalities out of it. Be constructive not accusatory.
  • Celebrate wins. Shout out examples of teamwork and progress made. Reinforce and appreciate positive behavior. Have some fun together!

What’s most important is restoring the belief that all parties have good intentions and want to collaborate productively. While it might take patience and a little discomfort, the commitment to rebuilding trust pays off.

When people feel respected and valued again, engagement and motivation will bounce back. Team chemistry improves and you may be shocked at how quickly things can turn around.

Let’s Wrap it Up…

Rebuilding broken trust is challenging but so worth the effort. By focusing on transparency, accountability, better communication, empathy and celebrating positives, trust can be restored over time. It may feel awkward at first but hang in there.

With commitment to creating a more trusting and supportive environment, teams regain cohesion. Workplace morale, productivity and innovation thrive when trust is strengthened so be encouraged. Trust can recover from even deep fractures. There is always hope when people are willing to put in the work together.


Dr. Debi-A Trusted Resource in an Untrusting Niche

Dr. Debi Silber, Founder and CEO of The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute and National Forgiveness Day is an award-winning speaker, bestselling author, holistic psychologist, a health, mindset and personal development expert who helps (along with her incredibly gifted Certified PBT-Post Betrayal Transformation Coaches and Practitioners) a predictable, proven multi-pronged approach to help people heal (physically, mentally and emotionally) from the trauma of betrayal.

It's Official! We're Certified as a Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)