Building Trust and Confidence in Your Employees

As manager your main goals is to develop the trust and confidence of your employees, not only in their own abilities but in their opinion of you. They must have confidence that you are both competent and fair.

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Building confidence in employees is not an easy task. Your goal is to help them establish a pattern of success. Confidence is built on success, so your job as a leader is to give them tasks at which they can succeed. Especially with new employees, assign them tasks they can master.

Build in them the habit of being successful, starting small if needed, with smaller successes. Occasionally a team member will perform a task incorrectly or just plain blow it. How you handle these situations has a great impact on the confidence of your employees.

Never correct them in front of others. According to the old credo, ‘‘Praise in public, criticize in private.’’ The adage still has a lot of management truth in it.

Even when you talk to a team member in private about an error, your function is to train that person to recognize the nature of the problem so the mistake is not repeated. Your attitude about errors will speak louder than the words you use. Your statements must be directed toward correcting the misunderstanding that led to the error not toward any sort of personal judgment.

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Never say or do anything that will make the employee feel inadequate. You want to build confidence, not destroy it. If you get pleasure from making team members feel foolish, then you’d better start examining your own motives, because you can’t build yourself up by tearing someone else down.

Examine the error based on what went wrong, where the misunderstanding occurred, and go on from there. Treat the small error routinely; don’t make it bigger than it really is.

The Harms of Perfectionism

Some managers expect perfection from their employees. They know they won’t get it but they feel they’ll get closer to it by demanding it. By insisting on perfection, you may in fact defeat your own purposes. Some employees will become so self-conscious about making a mistake that they slow their performance down to a crawl to make absolutely certain they don’t screw up.

 As a result, productivity goes way down and employees lose confidence. Another drawback to being a perfectionist is that everyone resents you for it. Your direct reports believe that you are impossible to please and you prove it to them daily. This also shatters employee confidence.

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You know what the acceptable standards for work performance are in your company no one can blame you for wanting to be better than the average but you’ll have far more success if you get the employees involved in helping decide how to improve performance. If they have ownership in the plan, you have a significantly better chance of achieving your goal.

You can also build confidence by developing esprit de corps within your own area. Make sure, however, that the feeling you build is supportive of the prevailing company spirit and not in competition with it.

The Importance of Building Trust

In addition to allowing mistakes and helping individuals see their errors, giving praise and recognition, involving others in the decision-making process, and avoiding perfectionism, you, the manager, can build trust in many other ways.

  • You can share the vision of the organization and the department with your team members. Doing this gives them a clearer picture of what the goals are and how they are helping to meet them.
  • You can give individuals clear directions. This shows that you know what you are doing and are keeping things on track.
  • You can share examples of how you have succeeded and what mistakes you have made. Doing that builds rapport and makes you real to your team.
  • You can talk to each of your team members to learn what each one wants from the job. By doing this, you are demonstrating that you really care.


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