We’ve seen it all happen before, it’s a favorite of movie makers and novelists.

The main character loses the faith of his companions and has to rebuild the relationship, with it often becoming stronger than it was before.

But is that really possible in the business world? When an employer loses the respect and support of his staff can that relationship be salvaged?

In the political world, when that happens it’s time for a leadership review or a recall vote. That option isn’t usually a viable one in the work world.

What can mend those fences in the workplace?

In her excellent article, Dianne Crampton says rebuilding trust must be a two-way street.

“Leaders who expect to restore perceptions of trustworthiness through one-way conversations discover that their efforts are often met with skepticism. That’s because trust is incident dependent. And broken trust creates fear, which leads to defensiveness.”

As in any relationship, trust mostly stems from honesty. If you don’t expect honesty from someone you are dealing with, whether it’s a spouse or a boss, trust isn’t going to be very strong or exist at all.

Trust is easy to lose and hard to build. It’s going to take more than just some dumb exercise to build or rebuild trust in a workplace. It takes time, honesty, discussion and hard work. Acknowledge that there is a problem with trust, that’s the first step. It gets easier after that.

You can informally measure trust with a personal set of standards and behaviors that are consistently met, expectations that adhered to or exceeded. If, by your own standards, you feel satisfied that the person under consideration has earned your trust you will feel safe in moving any relationship forward.

It’s true that trustworthiness is a moving target, someone you see as trustworthy, I may think is a lying fool.

No one expects anyone to be perfect, at least they shouldn’t, but expecting honesty and consistency isn’t really too much to ask for.

I once worked for a family business and the level of trust couldn’t have been higher. The owners treated their employees like extended family and we, as employees, knew that they were completely honest and open with us. That may sound like a pie-in-the-sky scenario but it is true and all my workplace relationships are measured against that, tough to be sure, but that’s the way it is.

Remember in the workplace you and your co-workers are a team with a common goal, you don’t always have to like each other, but professional respect and courtesy can go a long way.