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Author's profile photo Vitaly Vainer

The critical ingredient no relationship can survive without

Stephen Covey knows a thing or two about what makes people tick and he rates trust so highly that he devoted his latest book to the subject. In The Speed of Trust Covey states, “trust means confidence. When you trust people, you have confidence in them – in their integrity and their abilities. When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them – of their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record. It’s that simple.”

For years I was interested in finding the secret sauce for work relationships. During my search, I and my friends in SAP founded Dabra, to help cultivate workplace relationships.

Dabra by SAP is a venture, which grew via employee intrapreneurship program of SAP, funded and incubated by

Without trust, all relationships eventually break down. We see it in our personal lives and it’s no different in the professional sphere. As Covey warns, “when trust goes down, speed goes down and cost goes up”. He throws in the staggering statistic that less than 50% of employees trust the companies they work for.

We instinctively feel the pain when a workplace is lacking trust. Employees are guarded and insecure and won’t share ideas freely. They fear being ridiculed or having their ideas usurped by unscrupulous colleagues.  Where trust is lacking mutual respect, sharing, caring, and listening will also be lacking. Try going to work in a place like that every day. It’s no wonder that employees of such companies are stressed-out, less productive and more likely to quit.

Self-awareness can be the biggest deterrent when trying to improve relationships. Many managers and employers simply don’t realize that their behavior is counterproductive to the results they want to achieve.

The following four suggestions can help you root out negative behaviors and build a more trusting work culture from which you and your colleagues will reap endless rewards. Watch carefully for the new fifth element derived from it

1. Be transparent

Nothing makes people clam up more than dealing with a shifty person. Be transparent, honest and open about your motives and goals and you will see your relationships change for the better. Your team members will appreciate your honesty and repay you by opening up to you more and bringing their best work to the table. They will also feel more comfortable to raise issues freely giving you the chance to deal with them openly and respectfully. Managers who are transparent and truthful are more well-liked and have more productive teams. Who wouldn’t want this?

2. Actions speak louder than words

People don’t trust words, they trust actions. A culture of trust is built from the top down. A manager that doesn’t keep his word or act with integrity damages the entire team. Be very careful about your reputation in this area because once lost, it is nigh on impossible to recover. Always communicate openly about any unexpected changes or blockers or risk losing credibility. If you said you would give your employee more support or send them on a training course, do it! One of the best ways to grow trust is to be exceptionally reliable and consistently follow through on every commitment you make.

3. Don’t underestimate feelings

It can be tempting to put more energy into work goals and targets than into managing humans and their emotions but don’t make this critical mistake! Showing you care is one of the most potent ways to build trust. Acknowledging and acting upon your team’s feelings and preferences will build trust like nothing else. Team members naturally have more trust in managers who show genuine interest in them, look out for their best interests and encourage them to continuously grow, learn and develop. You’ll know you got it right when your team freely share with you their ideas and aspirations as well as their complaints and problems.

4.  Trust is mutual

When people are trusted, they tend to return that trust and that’s when they start to show their best side. Offering team members a chance to grow and lead isn’t a losing game, on the contrary, it is one of the most powerful productivity secrets around. When you show faith in others by allowing them to grow, they will return the favor by coming up with new concepts, new ideas, and new solutions. Be proud of their growth – rather than undermining your position, the success of your team actually grows it. Let go of the temptation to micromanage and you will have happier, healthier and more productive employees which will only reflect well on you in the long run. The big brother approach is old school – trust is the new route to success so it’s time to release your grip and watch them fly!


5. Let Dabra help

Building trust takes time and effort but it’s work that will be well rewarded. Dabra is an emotionally intelligent assistant that partners with you in improving the quality of your 1:1 meeting and helps you build stronger and more productive working relationships.

For the US-based readers: simply add to your meeting request and let Dabra take care of the rest.

For more information, visit  or contact us:


Vitaly is a co-founder and GM of Dabra

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