How to Regain Your Boss’s Trust


Trust is one of the most essential components of a strong relationship, whether personal or professional. The trouble is, it takes time to build trust. And once it's lost, it takes even longer to rebuild it.


When trust is broken in the workplace – especially with your boss – it can have devastating consequences for your career. You can find yourself held back, undermined and even slowly pushed out.


You can lose your boss's trust for a variety of reasons, both big and small. It can happen when you fail to follow through on a promise – an important deadline is missed or a critical task falls through the cracks. It can happen when you express dissent a little too forcefully or question your boss's leadership a little too loudly. It can even happen when you do something totally acceptable, like inquire about a role in another department or create a relationship with someone your boss isn't fond of.


Even people in leadership positions can be petty.


Regardless of how it happened, if you want to get your relationship back on track, you need to take some concrete steps to rebuild trust. Here are some recommendations to help you.


Articulate Your Goal


Communication is a key aspect of trust, so start by talking with your boss. It can be helpful to clearly articulate the problem and your desire to resolve it. For example, you might say something like this: "I realize we've had some challenges recently and I want you to know that I'm committed to regaining your trust."


If a specific situation has contributed to the problem, you may wish to discuss the lessons you've learned and how you're planning to implement them moving forward. For example, imagine your actions led to the loss of a key account for your team. Now, your boss appears skeptical of you – and rightly so. It may be useful to say something like this: "I've spent a lot of time evaluating my actions and here's my plan to ensure this doesn't happen again."


Follow Through on Promises


Broken promises are the easiest way to destroy trust. If your words aren't followed with action, they become meaningless. Therefore, if you're trying to regain trust, you must make sure that you follow through on any and all promises.

In the workplace, it can be easy to let this slide. We say things like, "I'll have that done for you today," and then get pulled in a hundred other directions. Before you know it, the promise is broken, sometimes through no fault of your own. But these little misdeeds don't go unnoticed, and when trust is already low, they can become major issues.


If you're unable to follow through on something you said you would for reasons outside of your control, address it immediately to prevent damage. This lets your boss know that you're aware of the situation, you're not hiding from it and you're doing your best to make it right.


Practice Selfless Behavior


One way to build trust with your boss is through sacrificing something of yourself for the good of the team. Whether that means staying late to finish a project or taking on a job no one else wants to do, your boss will recognize and appreciate the selfless act.


Trust is largely gained when people help one another even to their own detriment. So, when you give up something for yourself in order to assist your boss and the team, trust is bound to improve. Show your boss, through your actions, that you're really committed to their vision and willing to do what it takes (even when it's hard) to bring it to fruition.


Give It Time


When trust is broken because of a simple one-time mistake, it can often be repaired quite quickly. However, when the cause is repeated mistakes or questionable competence or large lapses in judgment, it can take much longer. So be patient and give yourself time to establish new footing.


Also, remember that consistency is absolutely essential for rebuilding trust. All too often, people start off with a bang – they recognize the need to rebuild trust and dramatically improve their behavior. But then, they slowly sink back into their old ways over time. This can backfire severely.


In order to truly rebuild trust, you need to set a new track record for yourself. This only happens with consistent action. Over time, your boss will gain a new appreciation for you.


Trust can, indeed, be regained – but don't expect it to be an overnight matter.