managing for trust
Eight Behaviors to Cultivate Trust
Employees in high-trust organizations are happier, more collaborative and stay at their jobs longer. But what builds long-term, sustaining trust? Director of strategic initiatives Chrissy Daniels highlights findings from an article in Harvard Business Review. The answer: Eight behaviors.

The Neuroscience of Trust, Paul Zak analyzes the management styles in both low and high-trust organizations. Through experiments and surveys, he identifies eight specific management behaviors that can positively increase trust and improve performance. His ultimate conclusion, “You cultivate trust by setting a clear direction, giving people what they need to see it through, and getting out of the way.”

How To Manage For Trust

1. Recognize excellence

Recognize people as close to, or immediately following goal attainment. Recognition is most effective when it is personal, unexpected, and shared authentically among peers. Celebrating success can inspire others to aim for excellence.

2. Create "Challenge Stress"

Give your team difficult yet achievable goals. This concept works best if challenges are specific, measurable, and achievable and have a concrete end point. Vague or impossible goals can lead teams and individuals to give up before they even start. Progress feels exciting. In a review of 12,000 employee journal entries from a variety of industries, researchers found that 76% of people reported “best days” when individuals reported achieving progress toward goals.

3. Delegate "how" the work gets done

People are motivated when they get to “figure things out.” Once they complete training, allow people to contribute to designing workplace solutions whenever possible. A 2014 survey found that nearly half of employees would trade a 20% raise for greater control over how they work. Regular team huddles allow people to share successes and learn from others.

4. Promote workplace volunteering

Offering the chance to volunteer for extra assignments gives people the chance to focus on work they find exciting. Encourage people to join projects they find interesting or rewarding.

5. Share information broadly

Trust increases when people understand company goals, strategies and tactics. Uncertainty about the company’s direction or performance can cause chronic stress. Ongoing communication is key. A 2015 study showed that daily supervisor communication increases employee trust.

6. Build personal relationships

A Google study found that managers who show interest in and concern for people outperform others. When people care about one another, they perform better because they don’t want to let teammates down. When people build social ties at work, trust increases.

7. Facilitate whole-person growth

High-trust managers invest in both the personal and professional growth of their people. Professional growth happens with clear goals, the autonomy to reach them, and consistent feedback. Personal growth happens through discussions about work-life balance, family and recreation. Investing in the whole person positively effects engagement and retention.

8. Show vulnerability

High-trust leaders ask for help instead of just telling people what to do. Asking for help is a sign of a secure leader—one who engages everyone to reach a goal. Asking for help taps into people’s natural impulse to cooperate.



Chrissy Daniels

Former Director of Strategic Initiatives, University of Utah Health

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