How to Restore Trust in a Workplace

Choose your words carefully when handling difficult situations.
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The person charged with restoring trust in a workplace after a disaster faces an uphill battle. If that person is you, shedding thin skin is essential. Your words and actions will be scrutinized. Your character and motivations will be questioned. You may even be called names. The good news is that you are equipped to handle these rough times. Gather your strength and professionalism to help win the battle for your workplace.

Step 1

Brace for negative impact -- it’s coming. Workplace upheaval often creates hard feelings and closed ears. Even your most impassioned appeals may be met with criticism by some employees. Accept this and keep moving toward your goals.

Step 2

Lay out new, concrete goals. Presenting well thought out plans provides reassurance that better times are near. It also re-establishes order and standards. Encourage your colleagues to provide input, without fear of reprisal.

Step 3

Defend the integrity of your workplace without demonizing wrongdoers. It’s not OK to throw colleagues under the bus -- even when they deserve it. Keep discussions of unsavory details of workplace scandal off your itinerary. Saving face without showing two faces will help others trust you and your message.

Step 4

Remove the stench of scandal. Sweeping problems under the rug only makes them ferment. Host “clearing the air” staff meetings where you tactfully but thoroughly address past problems, without becoming defensive or insensitive. Commit to staying as honest as possible to avoid backsliding into chaos.

Step 5

Avoid making unrealistic promises. A short-lived popularity boost isn’t worth the backlash. Don’t answer questions about entitlements and recovery time frames without getting permission. Stay alert for probing tactics from stealth employees. Getting entangled in a scandal while dealing with a scandal equals career sabotage.

Step 6

Commit to ending office politics. Explain that unity is needed to rebuild trust in a workplace. Emphasize an “us against the world” mindset to develop camaraderie. Organize team-building activities such as company picnics, outdoor games and awards ceremonies to renew bonds. Remember that strong workplaces are cohesive workplaces.

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