Our simple introduction says that trust is a state that can exist in relationships. If you trust someone, you believe that they can be relied upon and that they will not do anything to harm you. Trust can exist between individuals, between individuals and organizations, or between organizations.

Summary by The World of Work Project


Trust is a complex thing that’s been studied by several different professions. Unsurprisingly, different people have different views and opinions relating to trust.

Sociologists consider trust to be a social construct. They see it as an element only of our social realities. It doesn’t exist outside of relationships. It’s something that we have constructed within our societies and relationships. Examples of other social constructs that are sometimes discussed beside trust include: control, confidence, risk, meaning and power.

Sociology is the study of society, social relationships and culture.

Psychologists think about trust from a different perspective and focus more on how it works. They believe that trust grows over time. They sum trust up as being the the belief that the person you trust will do what is expected of them. Psychologists also note that different people have different dispositions towards trusting others.

From a work perspective, psychologists believe that trust is an integral factor for social influence, and has a positive impact on behavior, performance and perceptions in work places. In other words, without trust all kinds of things simply fall apart, both in the world of work and in the wider world. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to build trust.

Why Trust Matters at Work

Collaborative working is a key skill in our places of work. And trust is an essential pre-requisite for collaboration. To collaborate with someone you need to form an opinion as to how someone will act, and then trust them to do so. Without this trust, collaboration is nearly impossible.

People collaborating. A Simple Introduction to Trust says trust is needed for collaboration.
Trust is essential for collaboration.

As well as improving collaboration, trust also helps remove stress and complexities from working relationships. The more of a trusting environment you work within, the more likely you are to be at your best, the less stressed you are likely to be and the more effective you are likely to be.

In short, high levels of trust not only increase performance through effective collaboration, but they also reduce stress and improve wellbeing for all involved. Trust is a hugely important factor in psychologically safety and contributes significantly to the factors captured in David Rock’s SCARF model.

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Every year we run an open cohort of our Connected Management programme for those working in small organisations or organisations that are not able to fund personal and professional development. The 10 session programme is £1100 per person with discounts of up to 40% for self-funders and non-profits.

In 2024, we have a cohort on Wednesday 3.30pm UK time and Thursdays 9am UK time from April 17/18. It comprises 10 online live workshops with two great facilitators and access to a bank of support materials. Learn more about the programme by clicking below.

Models of Trust

There are many different models that look to explain what contributes to a sense of trustworthiness. Most of them cover roughly the some content. Some of the specific ones we focus on are:

Learning More

Trust is an important component of many organizational cultures. Where trust is higher, people tend to have more psychological safety and fewer social threats. As a result employee experience is better, as is employee engagement, and employees are better at feedback. This is part of the reason so many team building activities focus on increasing trust.

Trust is also something that plays into our emotional intelligence. Understanding our emotions, and the emotions of others can help us build trust.

The World of Work Project View

This simple introduction to Trust demonstrates it’s importance in our personal lives as well as in our work lives.

There are lots of models that help explain it, but most people probably don’t need the models really. We think most people actually understand what is required to be trustworthy, they just don’t always do it. And we think part of the reason they don’t always do it is for personal gain, but part of the reason is that it’s just not easy to be trustworthy all the time.

It takes some stability, effort, focus and control over your own life to be trustworthy, and many people don’t actually have all of these factors, particularly in organizations with bad cultures, over work and poor leadership role-modes. At a wider, societal level the same thing is true. Many people lack the stability, security and control needed to let them become fully trustworthy people.

Despite all of the challenges, we think being trustworthy is very important and that it’s becoming even more so. We also think the underlying aspects of trust fit well with the concept of character ethics, which we think are worth reading up on.

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This simple introduction to trust is based on work from our experience of work and there are no specific references for it.

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