Distrust: Is This the Root of Employer/Employee Tensions?

Distrust between management and employees can stem from various factors, many of which revolve around communication, transparency, and perceived fairness. Here are common causes of distrust and some strategies to rebuild it:

Lack of Communication

When management fails to communicate openly and honestly with employees, it creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and suspicion. Employees may feel left in the dark about important decisions or changes that affect them, leading to feelings of mistrust. To combat this, management should prioritize communication channels, such as regular team meetings, newsletters, and one-on-one sessions, to keep employees informed about company goals, challenges, and developments.


Constant oversight and micromanagement can erode trust by signaling a lack of confidence in employees’ abilities. Trusting employees to do their jobs encourages a sense of ownership and accountability.


When employees perceive that certain people or groups receive preferential treatment from management, it undermines trust in the fairness of decision-making processes. To address this issue, management should strive to treat all employees fairly and consistently, basing decisions on merit and performance rather than personal biases or favoritism. 

Lack of Recognition and Feedback

Employees who feel that their contributions are overlooked or unappreciated by management may become disillusioned and distrustful. Recognizing and rewarding employees for their efforts, whether through verbal praise, bonuses, or opportunities for advancement, demonstrates appreciation and fosters a positive work environment. 

Broken Promises

Unfulfilled promises or commitments from management can significantly damage trust and credibility. Whether it’s promises of promotions, salary increases, or improvements in working conditions, failing to follow through on commitments breeds skepticism and cynicism among employees. To rebuild trust, management must acknowledge their mistakes, apologize if necessary, and take concrete steps to rectify the situation. 

Lack of Consultation

Mistrust can develop when management implements new policies or plans for the company without getting any input from employees. Workers feel that their voices do not matter and that their knowledge and experience hold little value for management.

Impersonal Termination

When terminations are abrupt and impersonal, such as with an email or text, this creates bad feelings and mistrust. It makes employees feel that they don’t matter to the company, that they are simply replaceable parts.

In sum, building trust requires open communication, fairness, recognition of employee contributions, and consistency in keeping commitments. 

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