What’s trust got to do with it?

“Thanks for working late yesterday.”

It’s crunch time and you just finished a major project late last night. Your boss comes up to you the next day and thanks you for the effort you put in. How would you interpret this?


“The next few months will be difficult as we transition to a new CRM system, but we are here for you if you’re having any trouble.”

You’re in a department-wide meeting and your company’s senior leaders are sharing the technology changes that will affect how you work. You foresee lots of hassles and frustration as this new software system gets up and running. Do you feel supported by your senior leaders’ statement?


In each example above, an employee could interpret the same statement, coming from the same leader, in two very different ways. The difference hinges on trust.

Trust is a powerful thing. When employees trust their direct supervisor and their top management, the company, the leaders, and the employees can reap the benefits. This is especially crucial for organizational change initiatives, where change can come with hesitation, uncertainty, and people sharing less with one another.


Over at ScienceforWork, I covered the evidence on how trust in leadership relates to organizational change. This research came from 106 studies of over 27,000 people in total, and we can learn the following important points from it:

– Employees who trust their leaders may feel more committed, more satisfied, and more likely to stay

– Trust in leadership helps organizational change because it can create a collaborative environment where people share their knowledge

– Leaders can build trust by making processes fair and transparent, treating people equally, and allocating resources in an equitable way


Here are the takeaways in visual form:

Natasha_Infographic 1

Trust in leadership is important, as employees may be happier, more likely to stay, and more committed to their jobs. When presenting organizational changes to employees that trust their leadership, employees may be less cynical about the change and more likely to accept it.


Natasha_Infographic 2.png

As leaders, how can we make trust happen? Well, some tactics depend on what kind of leader you are: a C-suite leader should try to inspire feelings of organizational support by showing they care about the employee’s questions and concerns. Direct supervisors on the front line should try to include employees in decisions by taking their input.

Both leaders should make sure they are following fair and transparent processes, treating employees fairly, and distributing resources equitably.


Read the full summary here:





Natasha Ouslis is an evidence-based consultant bringing you the most practical and highest-quality scientific research on people at work. She researches, speaks, and writes on strategic people topics such as team dynamics, bias in hiring, leadership, and how science, data, and design can make work better. Find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, or her Contact page.


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