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Trust Me – This Is Worth Reading

The first was about the warm glow of familiarity when you come across something that is both recognisable and valued.

Marketeers sometimes forget this in the race for the latest novelty. They can lose the connection to the customer, who is looking for what they know (and love) rather than the newest thing. Having a customer committed to a habit can be so much stronger than seeking to entice and attract through the latest design. Developing habit is the Holy Grail for many retailers and services. It is also what new entrants are attempting to disrupt in favour of their own offerings.

I then read an article by Paul Zak that is connected to the release of his new book Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies.

Reading this article filled me with the warm glow of familiarity. Zak outlines the crucial nature that trust holds in creating high performing organisations. He provides stories of where it works well that are familiar from my own experience and inspiring. He speaks to the commitment to the human dynamics required to encourage life-affirming work. He doesn’t use the word habit once, but it occurred to me that trust is a good habit to develop.

Trust develops more readily if it is based on experiences in childhood. It is trickier if childhood teaches us that the world is a dangerous place and most people are untrustworthy. In today’s world, extending trust and developing it as a habit can save so much time and energy. Of course there will always be people who take advantage, but at the core we need to treat each other as responsible adults believing that each want to do their best. Anyone who knows me will recognise this as being at the heart of what Oasis refers to as peer working. It also echoes our own research into the requirements of the workplace of tomorrow if people and planet really matter.

But in a world full of fake news, where institutions are no longer trusted, and structures are fragmenting, is this just La La Land? What is great about Zak’s article that he articulates some steps that can make a difference in practice, and these echo our own applications in many organisations and sectors.

Eight Organisational Behaviours to Foster Trust

These are the Eight Behaviours that research shows foster trust, which in turn can be measured and managed to improve performance. If combined and modelled by key players they could have real impact.

  1. Recognise a job well done – research suggests that recognition has the most impact when it comes immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal and public. Bettys and Taylors Group holds New Year’s Honours. Peers nominate each other for specific awards, and the winners are kept secret by a staff-based judging group until they are announced at a large gathering with gifts that celebrate each achievement. This ticks the unexpected, tangible, personal and public if not the immediate. Such opportunities for recognition seem to work well for them as in 2019 they celebrate their 100th year as an iconic Yorkshire family business.
  2. Introduce ‘healthy stretch’ – stretch tasks release neurochemicals that intensify focus and strengthen social connections. But the challenge needs to be achievable and have a concrete end point. Research suggests that for many their best days are when they experience progress towards a goal.
  3. Allow freedoms to influence work – once a person grasps their role and the approach, being trusted to work things out is a huge motivator. Research in the UK also suggests health benefits from greater control over how you work. It can also encourage the much sought after desire for innovation.
  4. Enable job crafting – people work on things they care about the most. So long as there are clear organisational expectations, good development to embed the approach, accountability and evaluation, then enabling more agility to shape the job, works.
  5. Share information – openness and transparency is the antidote to stress-induced anxiety from living with unnecessary uncertainty. In 2015 were 2.5 million manager-led teams across 195 countries wrong when they discovered that some form of daily communication with direct reports improved workforce engagement?
  6. Intentionally build relationships – Zak reminds the reader that it is as important to achieve the task as making friends. If you make the effort to improve relationships at work, your performance improves. At our next RAW Network event on 6 February, Dr Jacqui Wilmshurst will address the question of developing psychological safety which is so connected to developing respect and trust.
  7. Facilitate whole-person growth – high trust workplaces help people develop personally as well as professionally. Bettys and Taylors Group, based in Harrogate, and North Star Housing Group in the North East, are two of a number of organisations we work with committed to such an approach. Learning new skills isn’t enough. If you are not growing as a person, performance suffers. Investing in the whole person has a powerful impact on retention and engagement. We diminish this at our organisation’s peril.
  8. Show vulnerability – leaders ask for help rather than telling others what to do. Asking for help is a sign of a secure leader. Asking for help when you genuinely do not know taps into the natural human impulse to cooperate.

If organisations are looking for some new habits in 2017, some of these behaviours might be worth considering. If you already apply them with commitment and intent, or would like to prototype some of them, I would be interested in saying hello.

Paul Zak’s book, Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies is released 20 February 2017.

To speak to Nick, contact us on 01937 541700 or by email.