8 Ways to Create Trust During Change

Your change initiative can only move as fast as your team and leader's trust levels allow it to.


Cindy Shaw

3 years ago | 3 min read

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Are you in the process of leading a change and your employees or team are hesitant to follow? Do you have low trust in your team and now have a change initiative to take them through? 

Low trust directly impacts how you approach change with a team, but even high trust teams require trust-building during a change initiative. 

As a leader or designer of a change initiative, whether you are part of the project team, change team, or sponsorship team, it is critical to define in detail the change impacts to existing processes and day to day activities of the groups that the change in the organization will impact. This is a must-have for change planning.

Without the above, critical information needed to communicate to leadership and employee groups who are being asked to embrace the change is lacking.

Communication scripts and generating buy-in rely heavily on explaining clearly what is changing and why. Ambiguity or lack of alignment across leaders on these two points creates distrust in the change process across the organization, often leaving employees questioning the credibility of leadership as a result. 

So how can you build trust across your teams as you lead a change initiative?

Start by including the following:

Ensure you have the right people leading and designing the implementation – this includes everyone from the project management team to the subject matter experts. All must be well versed and respected by their peers as knowledgeable and capable.

Involve employees from the start – begin with challenging assumptions related to the change across leader groups. Ask employees early and often where they are at with it, what they know about the change so far, and make sure that communication is frequent, responsive, and on target.

For instance you may have an employee group who‘s main concern is about the processes taking more time. The leader group, on the other hand, think employees are concerned with the software usage difficulty. An incomplete understanding of either leaves your messaging off target, unable to provide the correct information to help individuals work through their fear or resistance.

You will appear out of touch, eroding trust overall. 

Gather feedback from all employee groups during the implementation phase, including leaders, and make needed adjustments. Then communicate about it. Repeat continuously.

This process allows the implementation team to correct issues in real-time before they become problematic. It also shows employees they are an active part of getting it to work as intended (the change is happening with them, not to them).

Admit when you are wrong or have an error in the process and correct it. Invite help from the appropriate groups. Communicate the process and resolution as you go along, giving credit to the solvers as you go. 

Communicate updates regularly, even when there is no update (hint: no update is the update!). Setting and maintaining a communication schedule is key to helping employees rely on the process and trust that they will be given timely information to stay in step with the change.

It also keeps false information and rumors from running rampant.

Deal with visible resistors. Ensure that employees choosing to sabotage change efforts or are not participating in the implementation are dealt with using every effort to get them on board. When that is not possible, there must be a consequence to their behavior.

Opting out cannot be an option.

Articulate performance expectations for the transition from the old to the new, so employees understand how the dip in productivity will be monitored and supported while they learn the new behaviors.  

Be sure to acknowledge employees when you see their proficiency improve and start to get it and follow the new way. Continue this beyond the official end of the implementation when relapse behavior is most probable.

There are many things beyond what’s listed here that you can do as a leader to increase trust during change.

Always remember that when your employees are learning something new, the tone you set and the clarity you can give around your expectations are crucial to their success and ability to keep momentum through the initiative and produce the desired results. 

Not only does this help your team successfully navigate the change, but it also builds trust across the group and strengthens your change competency for the next initiative.


Created by

Cindy Shaw

Mindset + Leadership Coach | Writer | Speaker | All things transformation is my space!







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