Proven Ways To Build Trust With Your Boss

by | Career Growth

There are few workplace challenges more worrisome than losing the trust of your boss. You might need to regain your manager’s confidence after making a major mistake at work, being placed on a performance improvement plan (PIP), or switching teams.

Rebuilding trust with your boss takes time, intention, and persistence. Continue reading to learn:

  • Common signs your boss doesn’t trust you
  • How to deal with a boss who has lost confidence in you
  • Proven strategies to regain your boss’s trust if you’ve lost it

Note: All these recommendations are based on proven strategies that have proven successful with my executive coaching clients, so while I can’t guarantee you’ll become your boss’s number one or best friend overnight, they’ve all worked to help employees rebuild trust with their managers.

How Do You Tell If Your Boss Doesn’t Trust You?

One telltale sign that your boss no longer has confidence in you is when they no longer assign you the same caliber of projects that they previously did. Importantly, you’ll want to take note of how this compares with your colleagues, since projects can come in ebbs and flows. If everyone on the team has had a reduction in workload, you likely don’t need to worry. However, if you’re the only one who has had their scope reduced, it may be an indicator that they’ve lost confidence in your abilities.

Similarly, if your boss has limited your visibility, such as no longer including you in key meetings or on important emails, it could also be a sign you need to rebuild their trust.

You’ll also want to pay attention to how your boss communicates with you. If the frequency of your communication has changed dramatically and they’re now constantly checking in with you, or you’re being completely ignored, it might be a sign they don’t trust your performance. You’ll want to take note of their tone, too, particularly if they’ve become brusque when speaking with you.

You can often trust your intuition if you have a feeling your relationship with your manager has dwindled. At the same time, you’ll want to avoid making assumptions regarding how your boss is feeling, which I’ll cover more in-depth in a subsequent section since it’s such a common mistake I see employees make.

If you’re questioning your relationship with your manager, you can bring it up with them, which can be as simple as, “I noticed X. Can you tell me more?” You’ll notice this question avoids making blatant assumptions and instead sparks a conversation with your boss.

How Do You Deal With A Boss Who Doesn’t Trust You?

Once you’ve confirmed that your boss doesn’t trust you, you’ll want to separate the facts from your feelings, which can be challenging when dealing with workplace emotions.

I often encourage clients to grab a legal pad and write the facts of the situation on one side of the paper, and their feelings on the other side. This strategy allows you to get clear about the situation at hand while also recognizing and validating your feelings.

Here’s an example of this practice in action:

  • Fact: My boss assigned a new initiative to one of my colleagues instead of me.
  • Feelings: I feel as if my job is in jeopardy.
  • Fact: I currently oversee six major initiatives for our organization.
  • Feelings: I feel like my boss doesn’t recognize the effort I’m putting in.

When dealing with a boss who doesn’t trust you, it’s also important to communicate often, since lack of trust is often the result of not sharing roadblocks and challenges early enough, or frequently enough, with higher-ups. So, when in doubt, communicate it.

Additionally, consider getting a second opinion in navigating the dynamic with your boss. If you have any peers who are skilled in collaborating with your supervisor, you might ask them for their tips on how to best approach your manager. Moreover, if you have a mentor or executive coach, this is a good topic to bring to them.

How Do You Rebuild Trust With A Manager?

As you work to rebuild your manager’s trust, you want to avoid making assumptions. Assumptions can quickly destroy trust and confidence.

I’ve talked a bit about communication styles, for instance. You want to avoid assuming that you and your manager have the same preferences around how often you update them on projects. As shared previously in Forbes, it’s your responsibility as an employee to learn how your boss prefers to communicate, as well as to adapt your working style to them, within reason.

Similarly, you don’t want to assume that your boss knows the status of your work, projects, team, or accomplishments. If you don’t already have a regular cadence of checking in, such as through a weekly or biweekly one-on-one meeting, consider implementing one to review your projects and growth areas.

Regular check-in time is particularly important when you’re winning back their confidence, as many trust issues are the result of what’s not being shared with your manager.

Lastly, ask for feedback — often. Inquire as to what’s not working, as well as what they want you to continue doing or augmenting. The start-stop-continue framework is a simple tool that can work well here:

  • Start: “What would you like me to start doing?”
  • Stop: “What would you like to me stop doing?”
  • Continue: “What would you like me to continue doing?”

As I share in this article for Forbes, you want to be specific, so you might wish to narrow the feedback to a specific area, such as a recent project, presentation, or meeting.

Conclusion: How To Rebuild Trust With Your Boss

It will take time to regain your manager’s trust, so remain committed to the process, even if they don’t immediately respond to your efforts. Nonetheless, focus on learning your boss’s preferences, communicating often, and separating the facts from feelings.

Additionally, avoid making assumptions, and be sure to ask for frequent feedback on what’s working and what needs adjusting as you win back your manager’s confidence. You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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