2 min read

Start with trust

Start with trust
Photo by Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

Trust – A big word, hard to get, easy to destroy, and impossible to restore. At least if you listen to the majority of people.

At the same time, trust is the foundation for great things to happen. Teams cannot work together without trust. Before there is a certain level of trust, you cannot talk about empowerment, growth, delegation, or anything alike.

Still, given the importance of trust, people act like it has to take years to establish a basic level of mutual trust. While trust cannot be built from one day to another, this behavior leaves a lot of potential untouched.

Imagine you are hired for a specific job. You are the best candidate to get it done. After onboarding, you figure out that your manager holds you back and slows you down because they don’t trust you yet. On top, they control everything you do. How

How does that make you feel?

You are the professional and have years of experience. You probably gave up your former job for this opportunity and only have the best intentions.

For many companies, this is the default. Either smart people will run away, or they adapt and only do exactly what they are told. People stop giving their best and there won’t be any innovation anymore.

But what can you do instead?

Start with positive assumptions

Assume that everybody in your organization is here to the right thing. Assume that everybody in your organization is giving their best.

Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify, introduced the concept of the trust battery. For every single relationship, there is a separate trust battery. Each action either charges or empties the battery. This metaphor makes it easy to visualize and talk about trust without making it overly complicated.

As you should assume the best in people, start with a high charging state. My hiring philosophy is “Hell yeah or no”, so when I hire someone they start with 100 percent. Why should I hire them otherwise? Until they prove me wrong, the trust remains at that level.

Keeping the trust battery in mind for every relationship also makes sure you are not acting naive. You develop a feeling for the energy state and can base your actions and decisions on it.

And don’t forget, trust works two ways. Your team member also has a trust battery for you. You give them trust, they give you trust. They trust you for your decisions. They trust you to take the best decisions. It’s only fair to give them the trust they need to get their best work done.


Starting with trust saves you a lot of time and energy.

Yes, trusting people to get stuff done can and will lead to mistakes. But if you show people trust and support, they will also learn from them. And the earlier those happen, the less they will cost and can be avoided in the future.

Trusting people from the beginning may be a mindset shift, but I can assure you it never failed me to assume the best in people.