It’s a Matter of Trust
By Georgia Kartsanis
The image of corporations as “bottom-line” machines of productivity is appealing to those who wish to believe that money comes from automatic sources that respond to cold, hard, practical and rational interventions. That has been the recent history of the western corporate world and the results are proof of it.
Today, we all know that alarms are sounding about employee disengagement.
But have we ever wandered, why is “culture” so difficult to improve? Have we ever tried to explain what makes so many high performing employees check out?
According to the famous Neuroscientist, Paul Zak, trust is the secret ingredient of any high performing organization. When someone shows you trust, a feel-good jolt of oxytocin surges through your brain and triggers you to reciprocate. This simple mechanism creates a perpetual trust-building cycle, key to changing dysfunctional workplace patterns.
In the light of this evidence, It might be time to actually re-think our corporate philosophy.
First and foremost, we need to recognize that money is generated by people and that the disasters we’re witnessing nowadays are multidimensional in cause and effect. One relevant aspect of them is “trust.
Based on research, 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, compared with people at low-trust companies.
They also tend to enjoy their jobs 60% more, be 70% more aligned with their companies’ purpose and feel 66% closer to their colleagues.
Are leaders today aware of it?
According to PwC’s Global CEO survey, 55% of CEOs worldwide recognize a trust deficit that threatens their organization’s growth, but they lack a framework that shows them how to build it!
Which are six key ways we can achieve a greater priority on trust in our corporate world?
- Decrease fear in organizations:
Since fear activates the same brain region that trust deactivates, we know that decreasing fear will increase trust in organizations. Human resources can be more than just a trouble-shooting department; it can be a “fear detector” for the organization.
- Allow leaders to emerge:
When leaders emerge rather then being appointed, there is a natural flow and energy that revitalizes organizations. Growing leaders within an organization can be an effective way to do this.
- Recognize excellence:
Recognizing our people’s efforts and performance is key to establishing trust. Neuroscience points out the effect of recognition is maximized when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public.
The effect of recognition does not only affect the ones whose effort has been acknowledged. It also inspires others to aim for excellence, engaging top performers to the dissemination of success stories and best practices.
- Give people discretion in how they do their work.
Being trusted to design a new approach or suggest a possible solution is a key driver of people performance. The sense of autonomy motivates individuals and encourages innovative thinking. Often, younger or less experienced employees become an organization’s key innovators, mainly due to their lack of familiarization with what “used to work”.
- Share information broadly.
Despite our conviction about the opposite, research indicates that only 40% of employees feel well informed about their company’s goals, strategies, and tactics. As the future of any organization directly affects the working conditions of its employees, uncertainty leads to chronic stress.
Stress blocks the release of oxytocin, the hormone of trust, and undermines teamwork. Openness and ongoing communication are the antidotes: A 2015 study conducted by the “State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders” in 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries, found that workforce engagement improved when supervisors have some form of daily communication with direct reports.
- Intentionally build relationships.
Both trust and the need to socialize are deeply embedded in our nature. However, this is not always considered in the workplace. People get often instructed to focus on job related tasks and not spend time trying to make friends. Paul Zak, the famous neuroscientist, proved with his experiments that when people build social ties at work, their performance improves.
So, all in all, social intelligence -with trust being a vital part of this- is a critical variable that can help improve work performance. Also, it can offer life to the mentality of money machines and help us address the failings that make us human before disasters strike.
The article has been published in capital.gr