Trust is like oxygen in the workplace: we need it to survive, says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job.”
“Without it, you can cripple or destroy your career,” she adds.
When your boss and team members trust you, they believe you have integrity and character — and as a result, your career growth has the best chance for success, Taylor explains.
“Whether you’re managing others or being managed, engendering trust will bode well for your work life and advancement: you’ll be given more responsibility; be a better motivator; attract and retain better employees and clients; and will be a more credible leader.”
Here are some of the biggest signs your boss or coworkers secretly don’t trust you:
'If you are always the last to know something, then that's a pretty big red flag that people don't feel as though they can trust you with information,' says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of 'The Humour Advantage.'
People don't want to spend their time and energy supporting an employee they don't trust. 'So when their help, like their communications, is minimal and delayed, that's a strong sign there is a lack of trust,' Taylor says.
It's never a good thing when your coworkers are unfriendly, cold, or quiet around you. If they act like you're going to Tweet their next comment or run to the boss to tattle on them, they probably don't trust you, Taylor says.
This can actually take on a literal meaning as it affects your ability to telecommute and occasionally work from home, Kerr explains. 'But other signs include not being allowed to handle important client conversations alone, or being left alone to manage even a minor project.'
Again, this is a clear indication that people don't feel comfortable including you in certain topics, and a lack of trust is often the reason why, he says.
If they feel like they can't depend on you, they won't. 'Do they opt to handle things on their own, even if it would be easier or more appropriate for you to do?' asks Taylor. If so, it's likely because your team doesn't trust that you'll get the job done.
This is a rather obvious sign that senior leaders don't trust you to be discreet, Kerr says. 'It could be that they fear you'll betray their confidences, or that you'll somehow use the information in an inappropriate way against them.'
If your boss or anyone else at work always has to review your reports or work, then that's a major sign that they don't trust your attention to detail or to complete things as thoroughly as they would themselves, Kerr explains.
If you're not trusted, coworkers will probably be reluctant to socialise with you during lunch or after work because they fear that personal conversations won't be kept private, says Taylor.
A classic sign of mistrust is when you seem to get a barrage of never-ending questions about your projects and actions, typically from a manager, says Taylor.
'If you don't feel part of the group, there's probably a trust issue here,' she says.
Colleagues may want to get revenge and gossip about you if they feel undermined. 'There's no justification to this, but it can be human nature,' says Taylor.
If your boss or a teammate lays out an exhaustive list of detailed instructions on how to complete something, rather than just tell you where the finish line for a goal is, it's a big sign that they don't trust that you either know how to do it or will do it properly in their eyes, Kerr says.
When you need to get work done in a team structure, you may find it difficult to recruit staff members if you're not considered a trustworthy boss or coworker, Taylor says.
'If you're a manager who is mistrusted, your team will be reticent to admit to their mistakes,' Taylor explains. 'Perhaps they felt they were unfairly blamed for past projects. They may fear that the criticism will be unbearable. The path of least resistance is to stay mum as long as possible.'
Few bosses have tolerance for distrustful employees.
'You may get verbal and/or written warnings about times when you didn't divulge facts or misrepresented the truth,' says Taylor. 'You may come to read unflattering comments by colleagues, and they may go into your personnel file. This fallout can derail not only your job, but your entire career. You may ultimately be terminated; lose a potential reference; and get a negative reputation in your field.'
When you require approvals for even minor expenditures or decisions, this is a huge sign that you aren't trusted to do the right thing, says Kerr.
Another red flag: When you're required to provide your employer with a doctor's note to leave 15 minutes early for an appointment. 'And if you are the only employee required to submit certain reports or accounts, then obviously you aren't being trusted to do things ethically on your own,' he adds.
If your colleagues think you might steal their thunder and credit, try a land grab for their area or projects, or misspeak on their behalf, they're not going to take any chances. 'They will most likely copy the boss and others as a defensive measure,' says Taylor.
If you're boss is siddenly micromanaging you, it's probably because they don't trust you, based on a history of missed deadlines or past promises. 'Your every move is under scrutiny and you seem to be spending much of your time and energy covering your tracks versus doing actual work,' she says.
'Bosses and coworkers who don't trust you may be afraid you're not listening or don't care,' Taylor explains. 'They will be super-emphatic and repetitive in their requests, to be sure you don't fall short of their needs.'
Under a thin layer of mistrust lies anger. 'So even your most brilliant contribution may not be given much consideration because colleagues may harbour negative feelings,' Taylor says.
Kerr agrees. 'There can be many reasons someone never asks you for input, and a lack of trust is one them,' he says. They may not trust you with their idea that they are asking input on, or they don't trust that you'll offer objective and worthwhile advice.
When you constantly hear statements like, 'Please don't share this with anyone,' 'Keep this between us,' or 'I don't want this to go any further,' you have a sign that your coworkers fear that you may not be discreet. 'They may have had a bad experience in the past,' Taylor says.
People often report picking up 'vibes' from their fellow employees that they aren't trusted, and much of that comes from subtle body language cues -- shifting eyes, a lack of eye contact, or closed arms might be an indication that people don't have full confidence in you, Kerr explains.
Trust your gut. If you feel like you're not trusted, you probably aren't.
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