Several years ago, a great CEO that I work with suggested the book by Stephen M.R. Covey The Speed of Trust. It remains a standard on the ‘must read’ list for the people I work with.
There are a significant amount of studies regarding what influences people’s confidence in their leaders. Always high on the list, if not the top of the list, are integrity and trust. Certainly, when a group I am working with is struggling with moving forward, trust in their leaders is almost always a center concern. It is not that the leaders have overtly lied. Rarely, if ever, the case.
What has happened, usually, is that there is not follow-through, either on ideas or concerns the employees have put forward, or what the leaders have said they would do. The lack of follow-through happens for a variety of reasons, none of which seem to matter in the long run.
There continues to be a perception that this trust issue is still sort of a soft science. It is acceptable to talk about it when the profits are strong, the goals are being made, the sentinel events are at zero. Bottom line: ‘when things are going well, let’s look at polishing the car. When the race is on, however, we focus on other things’.
An article in this month’s edition of Harvard Business Review take the aspect of trust and takes it from the land of ‘soft science’ and puts it on center stage of ‘things I have to do’. It is a must read. Paul Zak, a professor at the Claremont Graduate University, is the author of the article: The Neuroscience of Trust (hbr.org). I am going to give a brief review that hopefully will have you clicking on the link before you end this blog post.
First all all, the article is base on a couple of decades of copious research on chemical reactions to trust situations. Zak traveled the world verifying and replicating his work, just to give a solid base to what he saw to be correct.
From the article: “Experiments show that having a sense of higher purpose stimulates oxytocin production, as does trust. Trust and purpose then mutually reinforce each other, providing a mechanism for extended oxytocin release, which produces happiness. So, joy on the job comes from doing purpose-driven work with a trusted team. In the nationally representative data set described in the main article, the correlation between (1) trust reinforced by purpose and (2) joy is very high: 0.77. It means that joy can be considered a “sufficient statistic” that reveals how effectively your company’s culture engages employees. To measure this, simply ask, ‘how much do you enjoy your job on a typical day’ “?
To the skeptics in the reading audience who might be saying ‘you can prove anything with statistics’, please go and read the article right now. To those that might be interested in what the steps are to set the stage for this engagement, read on.
Briefly, there are eight key components to promoting the purpose-driven worksite:
1. Recognizing excellence – For highest impact, it needs to be as immediate as possible, from peers and ‘personal and public.
2. Induce challenge stress – Give the team ‘difficult but achievable jobs’
3. Allow employees discretion on how they do their jobs – Steve Jobs had a great line “We do not hire great people and tell them how to do their jobs. We hire great people to tell us how to do our jobs”.
4. Allow job crafting – What do people do best? Allow them to find that within their job description. Keep accountability high.
5. Share information broadly – If knowledge is power, then start sharing.
6. Intentionally build relationships – Sounds sappy…and it works. You know it instinctually. If someone is struggling and you sense it, do you really just send them an email or a text?!No!!!!!!!! You get face-to-face with them…the clock disappears, and you connect.
7. Facilitate whole-person growth – There is a statement attributed to John Maxwell, the leadership guru, which says “there is no leading without learning”.
8. Show vulnerability – Ask for help. Involve the team. Let them know what you don’t know.
1. 76% more engagement
2. 106% more energy at work
3. 50% higher productivity
4. 29% more satisfaction with their lives
5. 40% less burnout
Again, this is not soft data. Sit down and put some pencil to paper on how that could effect your work environment, productivity, and bottom line. The first chapters of the book Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch give some good data on engagement percentages that could help you on calculations.
The author ends with a quote that is reminiscent of a statement attributed to Tom Peters: “Find great people. Hire them. Find what they need. Get it for them. Get out of their way”. Zak’s statement is “Ultimately you cultivate trust by setting a close direction, giving people what they need to see it through, and getting out of their way”.
Your challenge for this week – read the article – hbr.org- The Neuroscience of Trust.