The Role of Workplace Optimism in Building Trust

Without trust extraordinary results aren’t possible. Without trust and extraordinary results workplace optimism is absent. Without workplace optimism talented people stay away from or leave companies. What’s left? Mediocre results, missed goals and unhappy people.


Workplace optimism is not a viewpoint or belief system. It’s a cultural vibe that influences a positive work experience.


The outcomes of workplace optimism deepen and expand trust. Let’s look at the relationship.


Workplace Optimism and Trust Building

According to Interaction Associates’ survey results, 80% of employees believed they couldn’t do their jobs effectively if trust in their leadership was absent. Bottom line, business results would be negatively impacted. The statistic isn’t alarming. The lack of inaction by management to rectify their behaviors and shift the culture is alarming, however. This is where workplace optimism comes in to play.


Workplace optimism gives people hope that great things are possible from their hard work. It helps employees connect dots from their work to the bigger picture. Purpose is discovered and reinforced. The meaning of work is clearer.


Workplace optimism inspires trust in teams, even organizations.


The Elements of Workplace Optimism That Lead to Trust

It’s no exaggeration to say when we trust management we feel safer. Therefore, it’s management’s responsibility to create the conditions for workplace optimism to flourish so that trust can built.


The following areas of focus will help managers create optimism in the workplace and deepen and expand trust.


Connection between employees-Relationships have always been the backbone of business. This applies to the relationships amongst employees and with managers. Stronger relationships deepen trust, which strengthens relationships. It’s cyclical.


Deeper commitment to customer delight-We all want our work to mean something. Employees’ work impact how customers – internal or external. Help employees make connections from their work to the value it creates for your customers. When we can delight customers we feel good. When we feel good we are more open to building trust.

Openness to others’ ideas-When the work environment is safe we are open to input. When we are open to others’ ideas we are demonstrating an act of trust. Our vulnerability in accepting input from others builds trust.


Expectations of improvements-A curious outcome occurs when optimism is woven throughout the workplace and trust deepens: we raise our expectations of each other and what we create.


Shared purpose-The survey data from Interaction Associates also indicated that a shared purpose deepens trust. It also turns up the intensity of optimism in the workplace. When employees can relate The Why of their work to The How they do it and The What they create, a unifying experience emerges. Interesting enough, this feeds connection, commitment to customers, openness to ideas and raised expectations for improvement.


Meaningful work-The value you get from your work is equal to its meaningfulness. The richer in meaning work holds for you the easier it is to build trust with others.



In an era where big business has weakened trust and low engagement in employees, managers in the 21st century need to spend more time understanding what they can do to build trust. One way to do so is focus on creating a positive work experience through workplace optimism.


When we spend a third of our lives working, managers need to take on the work of making work a positive work experience.

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