Without thinking too much, how would you rate the level of trust among your team or department? Use a scale of one to
ten with one being “nonexistent” and ten being “exceptional.” What is your rating?
When I ask leadership teams this question, I usually get the whole range from one to nine. The average among a given group is generally a score of five or six, indicating that everyone present agrees trust could be better.
In its 2016 CEO survey, PwC (the global consulting firm) reported that 55% of CEOs believe an absence of trust among employees is a threat to their organization’s growth. Unfortunately, these same CEOs report they have done little to establish trust within their organization, mainly because they aren’t sure where to start.
Last week, I wrote about the 5 Essential Traits of a Trustworthy Leader. Diving further into the topic of building trust, I recently read a Harvard Business Review article entitled, The Neuroscience of Trust by Paul J. Zak. Some highlights of this article include:
  1. Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive – This is hardly new information as Gallup has reported this for years. Gallup’s findings indicate that employees with a strong connection to their work and team, and who are empowered to perform challenging work (two basic elements of trust), enable their companies to have better-quality products and increased profitability.
  1. Employees in high-trust organizations have more energy – This is true because they are more engaged; they are encouraged to work collaboratively and have some freedom to define the best ways to work on challenging assignments. In other words, they are trusted to be competent and this is reinforced with timely recognition when they perform well.
  1. Oxytocin is responsible for increased levels of trust –Although the science behind this is fascinating, suffice it to say the brain produces a hormone called oxytocin which has a direct correlation to attitudes of happiness, trust, and general well-being.
  1. Leaders can help produce oxytocin – The  author of the article revealed research that leaders can increase trust between their employees by implementing some intentional practices including:
  1. recognizing excellent performance
  2. delegating challenging, yet achievable assignments
  3. sharing information broadly about goals and strategies the organization is taking
  4. willingly seek input from their team and peers.
So, here is the application for you:
  • On a weekly basis, recognize something each person on your team did that went above and beyond expectations, or was excellent or particularly innovative. If there was nothing noteworthy about their performance, recognize a strength or character trait that you admire.
  • When you delegate an assignment, consider the person’s level of competency in the area as well as their interest in the assignment. If they have low competency and low interest, you will need to invest more time in overseeing the assignment. Conversely, if they are highly competent and highly interested or motivated in the assignment, you can fully empower the person to perform exceptionally well. This includes making sure the assignment is achievable and that they have all the resources needed to complete it.
  • Have a weekly or biweekly coffee session with your team to update them on company news, progress, new initiatives, awards, contracts, etc. They will appreciate that you care enough to keep them informed.
  • As I said in my last message, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.” Don’t feel you need to know all the answers – it’s actually a sign of INSECURITY to be unwilling to ask others for input.
As always, I hope this post has provided some food for thought. Going back to my earlier question about the level of trust on your team, if your answer was a seven or below, let me know. I’m sure I can help increase that number – I’ve helped dozens of other leaders do the very same thing!
Best regards,