Two Stories About Building Trust

two stories about building trust

Ask and you shall receive! As I continue on the journey to look at building trust at work, I wanted to hear from those I trust for their ideas. So naturally, I turned to Twitter & my #HRTribe (all answers are below the stories). Most of what they said was similar boiling down to 4 main ideas. And honestly, it’s all so very simple, but it’s not. I’m sure you have a story that could fit into these.

Two Stories About Building Trust



Be open and honest with your staff. Share what you can. Ask for feedback. I think Steve said it best in his book:

“Communicate with people directly and honestly. Drop the HRspeak and the Corporatespeak and talk to each other as humans.” (pg 34) We need to communicate with our staff in language they understand. Flowery important language doesn’t impress them.

Get out and get to know your staff!


They will trust you if they know you. It is so easy to just sit behind a desk (as I sit behind a desk & write this).

My friend Kyra shared a great story about how getting to know each other can lead to awesome results & trust:

She was hired into a Director position, with a directive to get the Director level team to work together on a project regarding improving the patient experience throughout their medical practice. The first attempt lacked content and analysis. When Kyra started, they had 3 months to prepare their presentation for the Board of Directors. Each director had their area of responsibility, but there was clearly overlap they had failed to recognize. As we all know food is the ultimate ice breaker, Kyra got the team to meet at a local pub, ordered some hamburgers and beer and began asking the others about themselves. For 2 hours, they got to know each other and didn’t talk about work or the project. At the end of the evening, Kyra told the team they needed to meet weekly and start looking at the business as a whole.

In 3 months of meetings and offsite work sessions, and HOURS of data collection & analysis, they had some amazing information that they were able to put together with visual and some new initiatives they were able to implement along the way to see how it would impact the patient experience. They presented this to the Board of Directors, who were amazed at the information and the resourcefulness of the team. The team had pulled internal resources together to participate, which led to a more engaged workforce.

By getting the team together and talking, the trust grew. And not only did it lead to a good presentation to the Board of Directors, but a stronger Director team, employee engagement, better understanding of what each other does. The team was able to be honest and hold each other accountable.

Do what you say you will and Own your mistakes


Broken trust needs to be earned back. Follow through on your commitments. Apologize when you make a mistake.

Have my own story here. Recently, I screwed up and forgot to make a request on an employee’s salary change. The employee emailed about it, oh, 2 months after it should have been completed. I immediately apologized and started thinking of excuses as to why it happened. As I got to probably the 3rd excuse (only in my head), I realized that the excuses where the wrong way to approach this. He asked to meet with me. I invited him over and apologized again. I told him that I could probably come up with a dozen excuses or reasons why he was forgotten, but that the bottom line was I screwed up, I was sorry and I was working to fix the mistake. He left feeling better about the situation and so did I. This takes a little vulnerability but the payback is worth it.

The Tweets that lead to these stories

I highly recommend following these folks on Twitter. They will keep you on your toes!

Joseph Washington Jr: The 3 C’s of Trust By focusing on the concepts of character, connection, and conviction, employers can raise the levels of trust in their organizations and benefit from the rewards that accompany doing so

Keith Enochs: IMO isn’t something that requires a strategy. Keep it simple. 1. Mean what you say 2. Do what you say you will 3. Know what is private and what isn’t. If we can stick to those 3, we’ll be golden.

Gemma: Be transparent – ask them how trust can be improved. It gives accountability and buy in.

Jazmine: I think trust for employees is all about leadership doing what we say and if we can’t, at least following up with the ee to let the know why. EE’s want honest answers from us.

Lee Rubin: Wendy, open & honest COMMUNICATION is critical to building trust (not just at work). If the culture does not allow for ‘real’ communication – particularly difficult conversations, it will be nearly impossible for team members to trust each other.

Layla BonisCommunication and allowing the employees to express their ideas or concerns without fear. Making them feel included when possible in decisions that may affect them or their work.

Elaine Steve’s new book had insight on how to build trust- walk the floor and ask questions.

Lisa DV Poirier, CMP: Oh this is such a good one! Yes transparent, genuine and use the feedback u ask for by doing greats comms

Paige: Sometimes mistakes are made. Own up.

Ivette Dupuis: Trust is merely an outgrowth of respect and understanding.

Kelli S: Getting to know your client base beyond name/title.

Michelle Beale: Trust is leadership doing what they say. When you say treat people with respect, empathy and value them – then do that. Don’t just talk. Lead by example. Allow your HR people to be human.

Annie Good: Listen more than you speak, follow through on commitments or explain why something isn’t being done, admit mistakes and apologize then take steps to correct and prevent; treat others the way they want to be treated

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Wendy Dailey

Wendy Dailey is the HR Business Partner for the Facilities & Services department at SD State University. With almost 20 years of experience in human resources, she assists the department in all their human resources needs, coordinates the training and oversees the IT requirements. She has worked in a wide variety of industries as a certified HR professional, including the airlines, banking and healthcare. Wendy is active in her local SHRM group and brought DisruptHR to the Brookings, SD area. Wendy has a BA from the University of South Dakota. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, leading her daughters’ Girl Scout troops and connecting with other HR professionals on Twitter, @wyndall93 or through her personal blog


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