8 Neuroscience Tips for Trust and Workplace Engagement

I’ve been blogging about workplace engagement a lot recently, and my last post explored biomimicry approaches for engaging staff.

Recent neuroscience research establishes trust as one of the most important factors for workplace productivity. Neuroscientist and author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies, Paul J. Zak and his team have found through their studies that trust, generosity, and connecting with others is associated with the hormone oxytocin. Zak’s team has isolated 8 building blocks for cultivating a workplace culture of trust. I’ll summarize these:

  1. OVATION: Recognizing high performers immediately and publicly helps foster trust and inspires others.
  2. EXPECTATION: Setting SMART goals, the moderate stress levels of which triggers oxytocin release. 
  3. YIELD: Giving people autonomy means they feel trusted to find the best approaches, and this is very motivating.
  4. TRANSFER: Allowing staff to self-manage and self-organize according to what they care about most.
  5. OPENNESS: Transparent and frequent communication from leaders to employees and vice versa reduces uncertainty and improves trust.
  6. CARING: Proactively building relationships at work helps deepen a sense of teamwork and trust.
  7. INVEST: Helping team members grow professionally and personally keeps individuals more integrated in work and life, improving their work performance.
  8. NATURAL: Being the true self, being authentic and vulnerable means workers can ask for help instead of being stoic or ordering people around; this builds trust.

Some of these building blocks are synergistic with biomimicry approaches, such as communicating openly (nature uses prompt, tight feedback loops), self-organizing (superorganisms are very adept at this), and caring (nature invests in mutualisms). This is an interesting example of how neuroscience is showing us evidence that we are wired to function similar to what nature suggests. Biologically, we are nature. And, following our natural tendencies for cooperation, we can harness the power of highly engaged workers to achieve greater heights of productivity and innovation. More on the biomimicry angle soon. Exciting stuff!

 

The hormone oxytocin is associated with building trust at work. Open communication is one of the building blocks of a trusting workplace culture. Photo Credit: rawpixel.com.

The hormone oxytocin is associated with building trust at work. Open communication is one of the building blocks of a trusting workplace culture. Photo Credit: rawpixel.com on Unsplash.

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