Kaya Consulting

The Trust Grid is for everyone: Strategies for developing workplace trust.

The Trust Grid is for everyone: Strategies for developing workplace trust.

In our previous article about nurturing trust in the workplace as a way of improving organisational effectiveness, we looked at how we can improve trust as managers. But what about the other side of the coin? What can we do as team members? What strategies can we employ to develop trust with our leaders and, ultimately, develop ourselves and our roles?


Why trust is so important to your manager

Managers and leaders often feel pressure to manage entire teams in the same way, when every individual within a team is unique and requires a tailored development strategy. That’s what the concept of nurturing trust and the Trust Grid are all about – improving trust, understanding, morale, performance, satisfaction… all the factors that impact on individual and collective achievement.

The Trust Grid enables leaders to take an objective look at the capabilities and attitudes of individuals within their team. By placing each team member on the Trust Grid, it becomes easier for managers to develop strategies to help everyone become part of what we call the Trust Block – that’s the area of the Trust Grid that denotes high capability and equally strong commitment to the team.

Trust Model

Helping your leader to help you, and your team

Now, you might not like the idea of being placed on a grid that charts your capability and technical skills, along with your perceived attitude towards your work and your team. But it’s important to remember the Trust Grid is just a means to an end. It’s a way of helping your managers help you.

It might mean you receive tailored training, personal coaching or simply some encouragement. But whatever happens, if you understand the importance of trust, and the role you can play in developing a trust relationship with your leader, it’s a win-win situation.

Or to be precise, it’s a win-win conversation.

Constructive conversations: Good for you and your team

The first thing you need to do as a team member is understand how your leader sees you.

Yes, it’s a subjective view, but their opinion will have been developed over time based on their understanding of your capability and attitude. Before you can implement a strategy to improve trust, you need to understand their point of view.

So, think about the implicit messages in their management approach.

“Respecting your mind, doubting your heart”

Does your manager trust your capabilities, yet still keep a close eye on you? Maybe, in their eyes, they think you belong in the Respect Block on the Trust Grid. That tells you they believe you’re proficient but emotionally detached – they respect your capabilities, but doubt your commitment.

In this situation, think about how you can improve the trust relationship. What strategies can you employ to demonstrate your commitment to the team? How about clearly and regularly communicating your progress on a given task or project. Keeping your manager up to date can go a long way to demonstrating that you’re 100{be38fd1e2c946a347db4d7316b241dce4b842100e7b38236661610f0dce6def9} committed to the team, emotionally and intellectually.

“Impressed by you, but not your skills”

On the flip side, perhaps your leader’s approach to managing you says that they like you, but have concerns about your capabilities. Perhaps they monitor your progress intently, maybe even surreptitiously, so as not to cause offence.

This could indicate they see you in the Affection Block on the Trust Grid, also known as the Nice Guy Block. So, how can you improve the trust relationship? Communication is the key again, but in this situation it’s about communicating more than just an understanding of what you need to achieve and why it’s important. As a nice guy, you need to demonstrate you know how to achieve it.

Be part of the conversation

By understanding the importance of trust and taking proactive steps to nurture the trust relationship with your manager or leader, you’re opening up a host of exciting opportunities. You’re making it possible to have a constructive dialogue that will benefit your team, your manager and, crucially, you and your career.


Jan Sipsma is an organisational psychologist and founding partner of Kaya. With over 20 years of international experience as an organisational effectiveness consultant, he specialises in strategic planning, organisational architecture and design, change management, capability and performance enhancement and the identification and development of leadership. He has a Masters of Commerce (Industrial Psychology) cum laude and is a registered member of the Australian Psychological Society.