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Eight Ways to Foster a Culture of Trust

We're featuring an article, The Neuroscience of Trust by Paul J. Zak, from the Harvard Business Review on organizational culture. Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies. They also suffer less chronic stress and are happier with their lives, and these factors fuel stronger performance.

Highlights from the Article

High engagement – defined largely as having a strong connection with one’s work and colleagues, feeling like a real contributor, and enjoying ample chances to learn – consistently leads to positive outcomes for both individuals and organizations. Building a culture of trust contributes to true engagement.

There are eight management behaviors that foster trust:

1. Recognize excellence. Recognition has the largest effect on trust when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public.

2. Induce “challenge stress.” When a team is assigned a difficult but achievable job, the moderate stress of the task releases neurochemicals, including oxytocin and adrenocorticotropin, that intensify people’s focus and strengthen social connections.

3. Give people discretion in how they do their work. Once employees have been trained, allow them, whenever possible, to manage people and execute projects in their own way. Being trusted to figure things out is a big motivator. Autonomy also promotes innovation.

4. Enable job crafting. When companies trust employees to choose which projects they’ll work on, people focus their energies on what they care about most.

5. Share information broadly. Only 40% of employees report that they are well informed about their company’s goals, strategies, and tactics. This uncertainty about the company’s direction leads to chronic stress, which inhibits the release of oxytocin and undermines teamwork. Openness is the antidote.

6. Intentionally build relationships. Neuroscience experiments show that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves.

7. Facilitate whole-person growth. High-trust workplaces help people develop personally as well as professionally. Numerous studies show that acquiring new work skills isn’t enough; if you’re not growing as a human being, your performance will suffer.

8. Show vulnerability. Leaders in high-trust workplaces ask for help from colleagues instead of just telling them to do things. Asking for help is a sign of a secure leader—one who engages everyone to reach goals.

Trust and having a sense of purpose reinforce each other and produce happiness. Joy on the job comes from doing purpose-driven work with a trusted team. To measure how effectively your company’s culture engages employees, simply ask, “How much do you enjoy your job on a typical day?”

Read the full article here.

The Gifted Perspective

The data is compelling! Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, and 40% less burnout.

We have personally experienced both high trust and low trust work environments and know that building a high trust culture must be intentional and takes a lot of work. We can help you do that.

Are you ready to experience the productivity and profitability benefits that come with a culture of high trust? Contact us today about individual leadership coaching or our Teams That Talk™ coaching approach!


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