The Foundation of Coaching: Trust

May 16, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

When you’re managing others, trust is essential to your success, their success and your team’s success. In fact, all relationships, personal and professional, won’t make it unless a solid foundation of trust is established.

Trust communicates that you are someone who sincerely cares about their career. And on their end, trust communicates that you are someone they respect enough to share reign with. Even if they report to you, they don’t have to do what you tell them to do. I mean, their promotions, their pay, their professional future might depend on it – but wouldn’t you rather have employees who work for you because they want to – rather than employees who do what you say because they have to? That’s an easy answer for any leader: yes.

Establishing trust isn’t always easy. Primarily because there are various factors that influence the level of trust that’s built. Some of these are within your control, and these are the factors you should do what you can with. But, there are other elements that are outside of your authority to change. One of these is the reality that every employee is unique – every employee’s personality may be more apt to trust or distrust another. This is the trickiest thing to building trust – and it’s also where you should begin.

By recognizing that someone’s either prone to trust or distrust – you make it less personal (about you, that is). And once you take it less personally, you can ween yourself away from worrying about what you are or aren’t doing well, and you can start prioritizing the person on the other side of the process. Focusing on them – is right where you want to be. Let’s face it, we all love to know that our leader is thinking about what’s best for us. And it means even more when they care for reasons that aren’t always about them. When we know our managers or leaders have ulterior motives behind what they say or do, it’s easy to discount their ideas – because we know there’s a level of selfishness and insincerity underneath it all.

So, start there. Focus on your employees. Determine how they tend to approach others: are they incline to trust quickly or distrust naturally? Once you know this, ask questions. Inquire about previous manager experiences, figure out if they’ve been burned, and get a glimpse into what makes them motivated. Use this information to the advantage of your relationship. Although success and the bottom-line is always on your mind (as it should be), trust me, if you prioritize the relationship you have with your team members, they are going to be that much more fired up about working for you.

It isn’t easy to do, but Ernest Hemingway had it quite right when he said, “The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.” Give your employees the trust you hope they someday grant you. You have to start somewhere, so start by building the basic ingredient: trust.

Looking for more insights about coaching? Check out more from Doug at his blog at

Also, request a complimentary copy of our coaching article by visiting

Doug C. Watsabaugh, senior partner at WCW Partners, understands how to meet your unique performance challenges. With more than 20 years of experience, WCW Partners is a performance-improvement company that helps businesses revitalize their results and achieve record-breaking performance.

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