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Share Ideas and Build Trust at Work

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 17 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Ideas Idea Share Trust Innovation

Sharing ideas at work isn’t easy for everyone. Some people feel that once they come up with a good idea, they’ve every right to keep it to themselves. They only give voice to the idea when the circumstances benefit them most.

This sounds like a rather cynical view. In a workplace that doesn’t encourage ideas and innovation, however, it’s how staff often behave.

Nonetheless, the situation in an office or factory can be far worse. If an employer discourages not just ideas and innovation but also staff communication, ideas may never surface at all.


Any workplace where there are no ideas coming from staff or management has a problem. Most people have a creative streak to some degree. They have thoughts that can improve a product or service, or the processes behind them.

Encouraging staff to share ideas is therefore good for an organisation and its customers. Such encouragement also does something equally important. It helps build trust within a team.


This goes back to the first point: that some staff keep ideas to themselves for selfish reasons. If someone is prepared to share an idea when it occurs to them, however, team members respect them.

Team members are well aware that the person proposing the idea could have held it back. They know that instead of sharing the idea, the proposer could have gone straight to a manager with it.

This is why sharing ideas within a team creates a sense of trust. Team members feel that whoever suggests the idea seeks and values their opinions.


Sharing an idea and asking for opinions about it can also improve the original concept. Everyone sees matters from a slightly different perspective. Members of a team can therefore review an idea and give positive feedback.

This sort of exercise strengthens a team’s identity. As a result, it helps build a team’s effectiveness and efficiency.

Not all ideas are good, of course. Some ideas uttered on the spur of the moment may even be a little silly.

Faced with such an example, team members must hold back any criticism. No matter what the idea is, they should look for something good in it. If this proves difficult, team members should nonetheless thank the idea’s proposer.

Ridiculing someone for a bad idea damages the sense of trust within a team. In those instances where an idea may be offensive or outrageous, though, team members should remind the proposer that they don’t want ideas that waste time.

With a team that’s developed mutual respect, however, this situation is unlikely to happen. Instead, most ideas are positive. Established teams become excited about them because they give a sense of renewed purpose.

Positive Results

Some of the world’s leading companies build their staff structures on the approach discussed here. They have teams that don’t just listen to directions from the board of directors and put these into practice. Instead, the teams produce and debate new ideas. Then they suggest innovations to management.

Such companies lead their industries with innovative products and services. They also have low staff turnover and high rates of employee satisfaction. Sharing ideas is a form of work communication that helps achieve these goals.

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