We need to talk about trust

PWC has launched facial recognition software to help employers monitor that their employees are working at home.
How long until we get to the facial recognition version of this?
Gif of a Simpson's clip showing a drinking bird being used to press a key on Homer's keyboard
Now to be fair to PWC this software has been developed to help investment firms mitigate the risk of insider trading, but if we consider that their recent Global CEO Survey revealed that only 56% of CEOs worldwide consider lack of trust to be a major threat to their organizational growth, it’s not a great leap to imagine how else it might be used.
So we need to talk about trust.
Last week I wrote about how we all have an unconscious bias, rooted in an old belief that workers are inherently lazy. That’s why it can be so hard to shake that feeling that our team aren’t working, when all evidence points to the fact they are. The rules in our society come from a place of not trusting people to do the right thing and this has made a way into our beliefs and thinking even if we don’t realise it.
Just look at the kind of policies we have in place at work, CEO signoff for purchases over £500, having to request permission to work from home and layers of management approval before you can get anything done. Of course our first instinct is that people are taking the mickey.
What I’ve found interesting is just how big the benefits of trust are. Harvard Researcher Paul J. Zak found that people who work 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, and 40% less burnout, compared to people working at low-trust companies.
So here are some questions to get you thinking about trust in your team:
  • Who do you trust in your team and why?
  • How do you know people in your team trust you?
  • How do you demonstrate to your team that you trust them?
  • What do you do to build trust in your team?
It’s that last question that people struggle with, how do you build trust? This 4 minute video from the Big Ideas Club might help.
In it Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, explains that trust is built when you take risks together and are vulnerable with each other. That means admitting your mistakes openly with people, which in turn opens the door for them to do the same with you, and creates a loop where trust builds through the experiences you have together.
Right now we are universally coping with COVID-19 and coming through a shared crisis is another way to build trust. If trust can help people feel less stress and reduce burnout while increasing energy and productivity it seems to me that it would be more beneficial to put energy into deepening trust and less into monitoring which erodes it.

I reply to every email I get so if something in this blog resonated with you or you’d like to share stories about trust or lack of it, drop me a line, [email protected]

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