5 symptoms of low Trust in the workplace: Do these sound familiar?

All of us want to work with people we like, but even more so, we want to work with people we can trust.  Shown below are five common symptoms that may mean that you have low trust in your workplace.

Having any of them or any combination does not mean it is time to leave, but seeing several of them over an extended period should be a cause for concern.  There are ways to help, but we will address those in a future post.

  1. Lack of communication or no communication
  2. Inability to give honest, direct, and timely feedback
  3. Unwillingness to deal with conflict
  4. Growth of Cliques
  5. Growing employee turnover

Workplaces are full of people and they need to communicate with one another to be successful.  Low Trust workplaces are devoid of good communication and they are full of rumor and innuendo.  Communication can be both formal and informal, and low Trust workplaces are full of informal or “back door” communication and formal communication, especially from leadership, is consistently absent.

Feedback is the “breakfast of champions” and low Trust workplaces are full of examples, day after day, where people are unwilling and/or unable to  provide one another with timely, direct feedback.  None of us likes negative feedback, but even worse is no feedback.  Even positive feedback is scarce in low Trust workplaces.

The first cousin of no feedback is inability to deal with conflict.  Many wrongly believe that conflict is a bad thing; to the contrary, conflict can be a great thing if managed and channeled to bring about productive change.  Low Trust workplaces are devoid of feedback and major issues, like a festering sore, are left to grow and become more challenging to deal with.

Workplaces often require us to work with others in order to be effective.  Low Trust workplaces are those where the clique rules the day and the formal work environment is usurped by these factions.  Dealing with these groups can be challenging and frustrating, especially if those running the cliques are too self serving.

Growing employee turnover is many times a trailing indicator of low Trust.  I call it a trailing indicator because the turnover is typically the result of a long period of low trust and those who choose to leave have gotten so frustrated that they cannot take it anymore.  When you see the level of employee turnover start to rise it is probably an indicator that you have a low Trust workplace.


So now that we know the five key symptoms of a Low Trust workplace what can we do?

I’ll talk about that more later this week.

What else do you see that contributes to a low Trust workplace?