Published on June 24, 2020
Trust: Takes years to build and seconds to break
“Trust is the most important factor for the development and maintenance of happy, well- functioning relationships”.
Trust is a fundamental trait in relationship formation, in fact, it’s the gateway to forming any great relationship. It’s a complex, multidimensional construct, which relates to positive expectations under uncertainty conditions... As in any relationship in our life, work relationships highly depend on trust. Indeed, trust is the foundations of more productive, energetic and collaborative employees.
Trust is such a fundamental factor in our lives that it is believed to start developing at a young age, through parents instilling children to trust them. Essentially, when we feel higher levels of trust, oxytocin is released by our brain - a hormone that increases the bond between relationships and that is also involved in mediating maternal behaviour, mother-infant bonding and pair bonding. Oxytocin reduces the perceived mental risk of being betrayed, which, consequently, increases feelings of trust.
In fact, trust is a key factor in the development and maintenance of happy, well-functioning relationships.
Defining a good working relationship…
There are several characteristics that makeup good, healthy working relationships:
Open Communication – We communicate all day, whether we're sending emails, texts or meeting face-to-face. The better and more effectively you communicate with those around you, the richer your relationships will be. All good relationships depend on open, honest communication.
Mutual Respect – When you respect the people that you work with, you value their input and ideas, and they value yours. Working together, you can develop solutions based on your collective insight, wisdom and creativity.
Mindfulness – This means taking responsibility for your words and actions. Those who are mindful are careful and attend to what they say, and they don't let their own negative emotions impact the people around them.
Welcoming Diversity – People with good relationships not only accept diverse people and opinions, but they welcome them. For instance, when your friends and colleagues offer different opinions from yours, you take the time to consider what they have to say and factor their insights into your decision-making.
Feeling Safe – when we trust our manager and our colleagues it allows to feel safe at work. Feeling safe allows us to work in a calm and non-stressful environment, therefore being more productive and happier in the workplace.
Organisations that build a culture of trust create a happier workforce that suffers less from chronic stress, fuelling a stronger performance.
At work, when your actions do not build trust, what you are actually communicating is that those relationships are not important and do not matter to you. The truth is that any of us can achieve results alone and relationships fuelled with trust come with great benefits such as engagement, innovation, accountability, mutual support, collaboration, cooperation and reciprocation of creative ideas and energy.
The Edelman Trust Barometer is an annual survey with more than 33,000 respondents that investigates the state of trust and credibility in organisations. In the 2019 edition, the survey shows that people in organisations have shifted their trust to the relationships within their control, predominantly their employers.
Employees expect their employers to be their partners in change. Employees’ expectation is that prospective employers will join them in taking action on societal issues (67%) is nearly as high as their expectations of personal empowerment (74%) and job opportunity (80%). Nearly six in 10 looks to their employer as a trustworthy source of information on contentious social problems and on important topics like the economy (72%) and technology (58%).
Employees look for a better work-life, aligned with their personal values. For this, it is fundamental to restore trust in business. Compared with people at low-trust companies, 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.
The law of attraction states that like attract like. We, therefore, form relationships with people who have the same beliefs, values and aspirations. That’s why business’ have a duty of care to clearly define the employee value proposition and articulate the company’s business goals, mission, purpose and values, so they can attract and retain the right talent for their brand. If successful relationships are the heartbeat of every successful organisation, it makes sense to attract, engage and retain the right people that will build ongoing successful relationships across your business.
Company values are what support the vision, shape the culture and reflect what the company stands for as a brand. They are the essence of the company’s identity – the principles, beliefs or philosophy of values. Many companies focus mostly on the technical competencies but often forget what the underlying competencies that make their companies run smoothly are — core values.
So why do so many businesses struggle to define and effectively communicate their core values when they are vital to the overall success of building trust in a business? Organisations need to take ownership and define their company values and they need to be constantly reinforced and reviewed as they are important to the long-term growth and value of the business.
Establishing strong core values provides both internal and external advantages to the company, as if your employees are clear about the behaviours that are expected of them and have clarity, they can live and breathe the values each day. This then will undoubtedly impact on the relationships between your people, your customers, your brand and reputation. How your people behave (both internally and externally), maybe the reason a customer decides to do business with you or an employee decides to work with you.
“Whether it’s friendship or relationship, all bonds are built on trust. Without it, you have nothing”
Trust is one of the most fragile emotion. While it might take months or evens years to build it can be destroyed in seconds. Cognitively, trust is a strong emotional dimension. When we trust someone and that person betray us in some way, we immediately experience strong feelings of anger, hurt, fear, and frustration which creates instability in the relation and activates a mechanism of psychological security in order to avoid feeling the same emotions.
Trust can be increased in organisations through 8 factors:
- Recognise excellence. "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."
- Provide a challenge. "When a manager assigns a team a difficult but achievable job, the moderate stress of the task releases neurochemicals, including oxytocin, that intensify people's focus and strengthen social connections".
- Give people freedom. “Once employees have been trained, allow them, whenever possible, to manage people and execute projects in their own way. Autonomy also promotes innovation.”
- Provide ample choice. “When companies trust employees to choose which projects they’ll work on, people focus their energies on what they care about most.”
- Be transparent. “Organisations that share their “flight plans” with employees reduce uncertainty about where they are headed and why”.
- Go beyond work. “Neuroscience experiments by my lab show that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves.”
- Provide opportunities to grow. “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.”
- Show vulnerability. “Leaders in high-trust workplaces ask for help from colleagues instead of just telling them to do things.”
At Laws of Attraction, we work with organisations to help create and define the values that support your vision and shape your culture, ultimately building trust in your workforce. We also work in collaboration with you to design your communication strategy and create integrated visual communications plans to permeate the thinking of your people, ensuring those values become more than words by actively influencing employee behaviour.
If you’re interested in learning more about EVP and the work we do around culture and values, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk.
1. Delgado, Mauricio (2008). To Trust or Not to Trust: Ask Oxytocin. Scientific American
2. Zak, Paul J. (2017). The Neuroscience of Trust. Harvard Business Review
3. Russell, Nan (2013). Ten Ways to Cultivate Work Relationships and Grow Trust. Psychology Today
4. Edelman (2019). Edelman Trust Barometer 2019
5. Comaford, Christine (2017). 63% Of Employees Don't Trust Their Leader -- Here's What You Can Do To Change That. Forbes