Putting the ‘us’ in trust

3 min read
Trust High Five

Employees working within organisations that have very high levels of perceived trust are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate more effectively and stay with their employers for longer periods of time.

Trust is in our nature 

Human beings are naturally inclined to trust. Research highlights that Oxytocin is a hormone key to social bonding and empathy and is released when individuals are experiencing feelings of trust or trustworthiness. However, situations of high stress inhibit oxytocin production, reducing feelings of empathy and trust and therefore leading to a decline in collaboration. 

Intentionality in relationship building within an organisation is key to maintaining a high-performance culture, the trust and sociality that oxytocin enables is deeply embedded in human nature and intrinsic within organisational culture.  

Overcoming challenges builds trust

Introducing a difficult yet achievable task that causes moderate levels of stress causes the release of neurochemicals, including oxytocin and cortisol. These hormones intensify levels of focus and strengthens the social connections that increase collaboration.  

Giving autonomy within these challenges, whilst obviously promoting trust in the abilities of your teams, also allows for further innovation to grow. It increases self-esteem in individuals, and fosters an environment of challenge, encompassing psychological safety and collectiveness when working.  

Giving your employees the tools they need

How information is shared around an organisation is key to encouraging and maintaining high levels of trust. Uncertainty around the strategies that employers are implementing leads to higher levels of stress, inhibiting oxytocin production and reducing levels of trust throughout the organisation. This in turn undermines teamwork and collaboration, restricts innovation and causes organisations to stagnate.  

Some organisations, such as gaming software company Valve, champion a style of work where employees choose which teams or projects, they find interesting and wish to take part in. As well as demonstrating trust in individuals to self-manage themselves, this strategy increases innovation, employees are likely to choose projects that they are passionate about and share their expertise. This kind of self-management allows for not only increased levels of trust but maintains and encourages high levels of accountability and ambition within an organisation.  

Knowing when to ask for help

Being a leader within an organisation has many facets and shaping culture is an intrinsic part of it. However, to grow trust within an organisation, leaders should not be afraid to show vulnerability and ask for help. This not only shows respect for their colleagues and their work but also taps into the natural human impulse to help and cooperate. This improves social relationships within an organisation, stimulating oxytocin release and subsequently increasing feelings of empathy, collaboration and authenticity. Leaders showing vulnerability and asking for help or input from their colleagues encourages distributed decision making, moving away from siloed workplaces and an appetite for continued learning and development.  

Make trust a priority

Fostering an environment where trust is a priority not only allows employees to perform to their best ability, but when it is embedded within your overall strategy it also can take your organisation to new heights. A high trust environment encourages many behaviours that can contribute to a successful business, for example; ambition, accountability, psychological safety, and collaboration. Additionally, trust removes some of the barriers to success, such as siloed workforces, uncertainty and employees feeling undervalued, which can lead to underproductive workforces and low employee retention. Therefore, measuring and tracking precisely where areas of trust are developed within an organisation should be a key part of strategic planning.  

Culture15 is your complete toolkit for tracking culture change. CEOs and Exec Teams at world-leading organisations use Culture15 analytics to ensure success by aligning their culture with what they need to execute their strategy. If you’d like to find out how to define the culture and values you need, diagnose the culture you have and close the gap, talk to our team. 

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