I don’t know in which “Corporate America” this is meant to work. Maybe this works in the exalted VP strata where you are surrounded by all your buddies or all of you have been through (and passed!) some serious “Management Training”. Most employees won’t open-up about awkward things even to HR unless they’ve been groped.
As far as “trust”, I agree that trust isn’t built on small talk, but it isn’t built on big talk either. It is built on visible small actions during the early part of your relationship. In a 1:1 with an imbalance of power, the one with more power needs to demonstrate both trust and trustworthiness first.