5 Ways to Get Your Boss to Trust You More

How much does your boss trust you? Does she take you at your word, value your opinion, and have faith in your work quality? Or have you noticed that she’s more likely to be skeptical that you’re doing what you’ve agreed to or that your conclusions are the right ones? If the latter, you might need to work on building more trust with your manager. Here are five ways to do it.

1. Do what you say you’re going to do. Being known as someone who follows through on commitments 100% of the time will establish you as someone your boss can trust. Which relationship would you rather have: one where your boss checks up to make sure that the conversation you had last week hasn’t fallen off your radar, or one where she trusts you implicitly to keep the commitments you talked about?

2. Own up to mistakes. People’s first instinct is often to downplay mistakes (or even worse, hide them), but that’s a fast path to losing your boss’s trust. In fact, the more blunt you are, the better it will usually come across – because it instills confidence in your boss that you’ll give her bad news directly and not try to massage the truth.

3. Don’t guess when you’re unsure. If you’ve ever felt put on the spot by your boss wanting to know some specific piece of information right now, you might have been tempted to guess and hope for the best. Guesses are fine when you’re explicit about the fact that it’s a guess. But guesses presented as fact can have disastrous consequences.

4. Don’t let your own agenda outweigh the company’s point of view. So often, people consider things at work only from their own perspective, without thinking about what makes the most sense for the organization. If you become known as someone who doesn’t let you own agenda bias you when considering things (whether it’s a new idea or a new hire), you’ll build a huge amount of trust with your boss – who won’t have to wonder whether the input you give her is self-serving or not.

5. Tell your boss when things are going well. You might do a great job of keeping your manager in the loop about problems, but do you do an equally good job of updating her on your successes as well? Seeing you pull off victories will build her confidence in you – so make sure she knows when you do. You don’t want to do this in an overly braggy way, of course, but a simple “Hey, I was able to shave 15% off the project budget by reexamining our vendor expenses” or  “I got this great note from the client thanking us for our work on the new campaign” is exactly the kind of thing most managers want to know about.

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Posted in Team & Project Management


  • Alison,

    A good list. It works very well against the checklist of the Trust Equation (credibility plus reliability plus intimacy over self-orientation).

    You’ve got reliability covered (do what you say you’ll do), credibility (owning up to mistakes and not guessing when you don’t know), and self-orientation (don’t let your agenda over-weight the firm’s). Number 5 of course has to be done ‘just so,’ because it can easily devolve into self-puffery if you don’t do it right.

    I might offer two additional thoughts. One is to focus on the intimacy issue: make an observation about how your boss is feeling. It doesn’t have to be more than, “Wow, you’re sounding pretty upbeat today!” But that allows you later to say things like, “Gee, you’re looking a little troubled about this deal; care to talk about it?”

    The last one is to remember that being trustworthy is only half the trust game: the other half is trusting. And you can’t depend on your boss being the trustor all the time and you only playing the trustee, because that means your boss is always the one taking all the risks. For trust to thrive, the roles have to reverse on occasion. That means you need to find ways to trust your boss.

    How to trust your boss? Seek out her advice on occasion – and then take that advice. Being trusted is probably the number one way to make people trustworthy, and it works on one’s boss as well as on oneself.

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