How to Build a High Trust Work Culture

How to Build a High Trust Work Culture
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Why Build a High Trust Work Culture?
When you as a leader build a high trust work culture in your organization, it is simply good for people and good for business.  When compared to lower trust companies, the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies found that employees in high-trust companies are:

  • 50% more productive
  • 106% more energetic
  • 40% more likely to stay longer, and
  • 76% more engaged

In addition, employees at companies with a high trust work culture report less stress (by 74%) and more happiness (29%) with their lives.

The Neuroscience of Trust
The Center also found that production of the chemical oxytocin – sometimes known as the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone” – is stimulated in the brain when you have a sense of a higher purpose and trust.  Together, purpose and trust produce happiness.  It turns out that the correlation between trust enhanced by purpose and happiness is very high – 77%.

Conclusion? Happiness on the job is a result of purposeful work with a trusted team.

How to Lead for Trust and Build a High Trust Work Culture
Here are five management practices that lead to higher levels of employee trust in their leadership:

  1. Establish Effective Goals
    SMART goals have been around since managers in the 1980’s discussed the importance of objectives and the difficulty of setting them effectively. Our organizational alignment research found that goal clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing teams.

    So, leaders must find the narrow performance window where a goal will have the desired effect of motivating people to perform at their peak.

    If goals are too easy, employees lose interest and do not perform at their peak; if goals are too difficult, employees will disengage.  Goals that are “just right” inspire extra effort and a spirit of collaboration as the team works hard to reach the desired target.

    You will know you are headed in the right direction when goals and accountabilities are clear, believable, and implementable to everyone on the team.

  1. Empower Employees
    Once goals and success metrics (the What) are clear and agreed upon by key stakeholders, the most effective leaders give employees discretion in both how they do their work (The How) and which projects they choose to work on (the Who).  When employees have choices about their approach and the kind of work, they are more committed to project success.

    If it does not make sense for employees to have 100% discretion regarding how the work gets done or who works on what, then be clear about what is mandated, guided, and autonomous and let them work within the given parameters.You will know you are headed in the right direction when employees believe that their job allows them to utilize their strengths, find their job interesting and challenging, and collaborate with others to get work done.

  2. Ensure Timely Information Flow
    Employees need the right information at the right time so that they know how to accomplish their tasks and how well they are performing. In high performing organizations, information flows downward, upward and laterally. Any bottleneck of the information flow process can really gum up the works and cause bad decisions to be made, employees to perform poorly, and problems to grow and fester.

    Our research found that 81% of respondents who reported a high level of performance agreed or strongly agreed that information flow was timely. Conversely, only 6% of companies who reported a low level of performance agreed that information flow was timely.

    Invest the time to cultivate a culture of ongoing, open communication.  Employees like to know how the company is doing – its goals, strategies, and tactics.  Don’t undermine teamwork by keeping your workforce in the dark.

    You will know that you are headed in the right direction when employees are satisfied with the information they receive from the company’s top leaders about what’s going on in the company, have enough information and resources to do their job well, and believe that the company listens to and takes employee ideas and feedback seriously.

  1. Build Strong Relationships
    Encourage managers to create personal connections by being genuinely interested in their employee’s personal and professional growth and well-being. Do not underestimate the correlation between social ties at work and performance.  Companies and managers that care about their workforce have higher levels of trust, collaboration, engagement, and performance.
  2. Hold People Accountable and Value Their Contribution
    It is the job of leaders to provide the right motivation, desire, and engagement for their teams to perform at their peak. Neuroscience and employee engagement survey results both support that it is important to reward and provide positive feedback for the behaviors and performance that you want and to have negative feedback and consequences for undesired behaviors and performance.

    The right combination of rewards and consequences should create emotional involvement and the right level of desire and motivation within your corporate culture.  To be effective, rewards and consequences must be timely, fair, proportionate, consistent, respectful, and aligned with the business strategy and desired culture.

The Bottom Line
To build a high trust work culture you must create an environment of clarity, respect, trust, accountability, transparency, recognition, and empowerment.  Set clear goals, give employees what they need to succeed, and get out of their way.

To learn more about how to create a high trust work culture, download A Purposeful and Aligned Organizational Culture – Your DNA for Success

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