The study finds that building a culture of trust can make a meaningful difference in companies. 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.
Even, 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, 40% less burnout compared to the low-trust companies.
Another survey by PwC reported that 55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organizational growth. But most could have done very little to increase trust, mainly because they aren’t sure how to start.
Neuroscience experiments by Paul J. Zak revealed eight ways to effectively create and manage a culture of trust by business leaders. And the science behind this is the impact of a brain chemical called oxytocin which indicates that the other person is safe to approach.
Textile and garments industry owners of Bangladesh can also take advantage of this study by transforming their companies into high-trust organizations which can help them reduce migration of their valuable employees and ensure sustainable business growth.
Let’s have a look at the eight strategies that can help build a culture of trust in your company to expedite business growth.
- Recognize excellence
Neuroscience shows that 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. Public recognition not only uses the power of the crowd to celebrate successes but also inspires others to aim for excellence. And it gives top performers a forum for sharing best practices, so others can learn from them.
- Induce “challenge stress”
When a manager assigns a team 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. When team members need to work together to reach a goal, brain activity coordinates their behaviors efficiently.
But this works only if challenges are attainable and have a concrete endpoint; vague or impossible goals cause people to give up before they even start. Leaders should check in frequently to assess progress and adjust goals that are too easy or out of reach.
- 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: A 2014 Citigroup and LinkedIn survey found that nearly half of employees would give up a 20% raise for greater control over how they work.
Autonomy also promotes innovation, because different people try different approaches. Oversight and risk management procedures can help minimize negative deviations while people experiment. And post project debriefs allow teams to share how positive deviations came about so that others can build on their success. Often, younger or less experienced employees are the chief innovators in a company, because they’re less constrained by what “usually” works.
- 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. As a result, organizations like the Morning Star Company—the largest producer of tomato products in the world—have highly productive colleagues who stay with the company year after year. At Morning Star (a company I’ve worked with), people don’t even have job titles; they self-organize into workgroups.
Gaming software company Valve gives employees desks on wheels and encourages them to join projects that seem “interesting” and “rewarding.” But they’re still held accountable. Clear expectations are set when employees join a new group, and 360-degree evaluations are done when projects wrap up, so that individual contributions can be measured.
- 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. Organizations that share their “flight plans” with employees reduce uncertainty about where they are headed and why. Ongoing communication is key: A study of 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries found that workforce engagement improved when supervisors had some form of daily communication with direct reports.
- Intentionally build relationships
The brain network that oxytocin activates is evolutionarily old. This means that the trust and sociality that oxytocin enables are deeply embedded in our nature. Yet at work, we often get the message that we should focus on completing tasks, not on making friends.
A neuroscience experiment by Paul J. Zak shows that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves. A Google study similarly found that managers who “express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being” outperform others in the quality and quantity of their work.
You can help people build social connections by sponsoring lunches, after-work parties, and team-building activities. It may sound like forced fun, but when people care about one another, they perform better because they don’t want to let their teammates down.
- 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.
High-trust companies adopt a growth mindset when developing talent. Some even find that when managers set clear goals, give employees the autonomy to reach them, and provide consistent feedback, the backward-looking annual performance review is no longer necessary.
This is the approach taken by Accenture and Adobe Systems. Where managers can ask questions like, “Am I helping you get your next job?” to probe professional goals. Assessing personal growth includes discussions about work-life integration, family, and time for recreation and reflection. Investing in the whole person has a powerful effect on engagement and retention.
- Show vulnerability
Leaders in high-trust workplaces ask for help from colleagues instead of just telling them to do things. Research has found that this stimulates oxytocin production in others, increasing their trust and cooperation. Asking for help is a sign of a secure leader—one who engages everyone to reach goals.
Jim Whitehurst, CEO of open-source software maker Red Hat, has said, “I found that being very open about the things I did not know actually had the opposite effect than I would have thought. It helped me build credibility.” Asking for help is effective because it taps into the natural human impulse to cooperate with others.
Former Herman Miller CEO Max De Pree once said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant.” Ultimately, you can cultivate trust by setting a clear direction, giving people what they need to see it through, and getting out of their way.
It’s not about being easy on your employees or expecting less from them. High-trust companies hold people accountable but without micromanaging them. They treat people like responsible adults. Treating the employees of the textile and RMG industry like this can help them love the industry and become a significant part of its rapid growth it.