What Creates the Happiest and Most Productive Workplaces?

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“To a social animal, trust is like lubrication. It reduces friction and creates conditions much more conducive to performance, just like putting the snowmobile back in the snow.” — Simon Sinek

So, how can organizations develop trust among their people?

1. It starts at the top. Leaders must model trust for their employees.

In order for employees to be engaged and motivated to produce the highest quality work, they need to know that their leader trusts and supports them.

  • Share whatever information you can — when people feel trusted, they’ll trust you back
  • Admit mistakes and accept responsibility

2. It’s created from day one.

The culture created in a company starts with the new hires. It’s imperative for organizations to on board employees by assimilating them into a culture of trust and accountability. Otherwise, new employees will establish a culture of their own and threaten the existing circle of safety.

3. It’s best achieved in smaller groups.

Have you ever heard of Dunbar’s Number? Anthropologist Robin Dunbar found in his research that humans have a cognitive limit for how many relationships they can effectively maintain. He described it as, “the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar.” That number? 150.

“The larger the group of people we work with, the less likely we are to develop any kind of trusting relationships with them.”

But we work today in virtually-connected and infinitely-expanding organizations. So, it’s important for leaders to structure groups and teams within the larger organization to create smaller circles of safety that will enable everyone’s success.

4. It’s a never-ending process.

There will always be factors that try to undermine an organization’s trust. They can come from outside of the organization. They can also come from inside the organization. It’s the job of leaders to recognize these threats and take actions to protect their people from them.

Stories of a former high school teacher, now business consultant. Husband. Travel fanatic. Obsessed coffee drinker. And all-around nerd.

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