Pursue What Matters
Episode 124: What the Best Teams Understand About Trust
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Why does trust matter at work? Does it? Or is this just a fuzzy, sentimental thought that gets in the way of real work? Well join me to find out.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:12
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So does trust at work really matter? Or is this just overrated? Is this just the result of our sentimental, everyone needs a teddy bear at work sentiment? Well, today, I’m going to make the case for why trust matters at work, but not just because we want things warm and fuzzy. But because it makes business sense. And it makes work a much more enjoyable place to be. So can you get along in business without trust? Yes, you can. But it’s a lot harder. And I would argue it’s more effort. It’s not as enjoyable.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:19
So when you get along in business, without trust, your organizational culture will always be an issue, you’ll always have issues with that, you will need to rely on external motivators to get work done. Instead of internal motivators, which is powerful, it makes a huge difference when it comes to work. So you will need to rely on lots of incentives to get people to do the work you hired them to do and not it that’s a that’s a heavy lift when it comes to work. If you don’t have trust at work, there will also be lower creativity, innovation and collaboration. And in the competitive environment we live we live in to have less creativity, innovation, and collaboration can really be the death knell for a lot of organizations. So yes, you can get along in business without trust, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:18
So with the podcast every week, my goal is to help you pursue what matters. by strengthening your confidence to lead I try to do that in one of three areas. First, leading with clarity, are you connected to purpose? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Second, to lead with curiosity. This is where we really work to help you build your self awareness, your self leadership and your self care skills, and third, leading and building a community. So what are the specific skills to really help you to lead? Well, we think about communication, we think about accountability, we think about trust. And so today, the primary area that I really want to help you strengthen your confidence to lead is in leading and building a community. That’s what trust is all about. It’s hard to effectively lead a community if you don’t have trust in place.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:14
So let’s jump right in and ask the question, why does trust matter at work? So I’ve got two key points to answer this question. So the first point is that trust allows you to thrive and bring your best contributions forward, we should not underrate underestimate the importance of that. So trust is key to building a foundation of psychological safety in the workplace. So let’s quickly define psychological safety. Of course, I’ve got other podcasts on this topic, I’m pretty passionate about it. But quickly when we think about psychological safety in an organization, it is like fertile ground, that sets a solid foundation for an organization, its team members, and everyone that organization serves to really help them to be successful. So I’m an Idaho girl. I come from a family of farmers. And so I often think in terms of farming metaphors, and so psychological safety is the fertile ground that helps to create a solid foundation for growth. When we think about having a lot of psychological safety, high psychological safety in an organization, this results in higher profitability. Most leaders like hearing that it also results in a stronger organizational culture, right which helps to really increase motivation and momentum and commitment to the work and organizations are able to accomplish their biggest goal. So you think about these stretch goals. People are able to be successful with them. psychological safety also helps the organization to expand The ways they can serve their audience, their customers, their their clients, and stakeholders. So psychological safety makes a big difference. And trust is key to building psychological safety.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:15
So if,we’re going with my analogy here of the fertile ground, trust can be thought of as one of the most important nutrients of an organization’s soil, and a key determinant of whether a team and an organization is able to establish that fertile ground of psychological safety. So trust is a component of psychological safety. When we think about the psychological safety findings, in a study of group intelligence, researchers have found two key behaviors that all good teams share that less effective teams do not have. So first, members speak in roughly the same proportion, right, so we share the floor. And second members have a good sense of what is happening for other members of the group. So there is an awareness of other team members and there’s a sensitivity to other team members, I would even call this care. You don’t have to be best friends, but you have awareness, you have regard you have care for those you work with. And these two findings really make up the significance of what is known as psychological safety. And those might sound like simple concepts, but they’re deep and big. And of course, trust is a big part of them. So that’s the first point that trust allows you to thrive and bring your best contributions forward. And the second point, right, when we think about why does trust matter at work, I just want you to consider your own experience with trust in your life. When you think about your most important relationships, it is a no brainer, that trusting others is critical. I mean, isn’t it, it’s a no brainer. And so we need to understand that our relationships at work are no different from our relationships at home. Okay? People, our people, our people, we bring our whole selves to work. And so we don’t have a work self that is cut off and separate from who we are at home, there may be some things you don’t share just because of privacy. But who we are, is how we lead. And that comes to us from Dr. Brene Brown. And so how you show up at home is how you show up at work. If you can build trusting relationships at home, it follows that building trusting relationships at work will also help to strengthen those relationships. And so I, I want you to consider how much trust is actually required at work. I mean, a lot, if you just take a step back and pay attention to it in a very real way, if you are working on a team, as most of us are these days, your livelihood, your success, and your opportunities for advancement, absolutely depend on the work of others, you need to have a lot of trust with those you work with. So if you can’t trust the guy in the cubicle across from you to get his part of the project done, and done effectively, this seriously impedes your ability to be successful. Now, I don’t I don’t know about you. But that’s some high stakes trust right there. And if you are worried that others are talking behind your back, or are criticizing your work without discussing concerns directly with you, then when you are a work, your mind and your energy will be on those concerns, and not focused on doing creative collaborative work. And so when we have a hard time trusting others at work, because maybe we’re worried they’re talking trash about us, or they don’t trust us, they don’t have confidence in our work, our energy goes to that worry. And we move into survival mode, which prevents us from thriving, it prevents us from doing our most creative work. And so it’s a it’s a real problem.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:14
So, you know, when we think about why does trust matter of work, we just you got to keep in mind that our relationships at work are real and genuine. And so for any relationship to thrive, there needs to be trust. And of course, that applies at work as well. So now I want to make the case for trust and what you can do. And so let’s think about what are some of the great things that trusting teams experience, right? So I want you to think about the benefits of trust. And as you as you listen to this, I want you to think about how are you doing? How is your organization doing? How can you maybe implement some of these things or strengthen focus on some of these characteristics of trusting teams, because trusting teams experience a lot of benefits.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:14
So if we look to the the research of self determination theory, this comes to us from Harry Harlow, who is one of my favorite psychologists, I get pretty geeky about some of the first psychologists, and Harry Harlow has taught us so much. So this research comes from him and also Edward Deci in 1971. So it’s been around for a long time. But these findings have been replicated over time, and they are still very relevant. And so their work is on self determination theory. And, you know, what happens is that, when we have trust at work, we are happier and contribute more. Now, again, that might sound like a no brainer, but it has really important implications for us. And so when Harlow and Deci first did this research, they discovered that rewards can fail to improve people’s engagement with tasks, and here’s what you need to hear, may even damage it. Ooh. So we’ve got to be so careful about incentives, we’ve got to be so careful about carrots, and sticks. And then in another study that was carried out in 2017, at MIT, they found similar findings. And so when we think about self determination theory, we’re thinking about what helps people to be successful at work, what helps to build motivation and momentum to a unified purpose, right? You think about your vision and your mission? Well, you’ve got to find compelling ways for people to join you on your mission. And control and wielding power is never enough.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:03
This concept of self-determination theory was also really popularized with Daniel Pink’s book Drive, where he’s really looking at motivation, and momentum. And I believe I have done a book review on this great book. So if you want to hear more about that, I will link to that episode in the show notes. So what are some of the great things that trusting teams experienced? What were the findings and recommendations from self determination theory? So the first solution is autonomy. So you need autonomy to direct your own life and work. So to be fully motivated, you must be able to control what you do, when you do it, and who you do it with. Okay. And so when we think about autonomy, according to pink, he says that autonomy motivates us to think creatively without needing to conform to strict workplace rules. Okay, so by rethinking traditional ideas of controls, such as regular office hours, dress codes, numerical targets, and so on, organizations can increase staff autonomy, build trust. So did you hear that right there. That’s how you can build trust, and improve innovation and creativity. You don’t as a leader, you don’t want to spend your time trying to control the behavior of those you work with. First of all, you’ll end up frustrated and resentful, they will end up very frustrated and resentful. And what you do in when you try to control is you stifle creativity, you stifle your folks from doing the thing you hired them to do. So we really don’t want to do that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:47
You know, one of the best examples probably is software companies, they give their folks tons of autonomy. And this gives them the freedom to really develop their own projects. It gives them the freedom and time to try out and test new ideas, which of course, can deliver benefits to the organization, such as improved processes or innovative solution. So when you have a team member that comes to you with an idea, listen, listen up. Of course, one of the best examples of this autonomy is Google with their use of the 80/20 split on time. So giving their team members 20% of their time was devoted to their pet project, whatever they wanted to look at, and develop and some of Google’s most profitable and most useful applications have been a result of that 20% time I believe Google Maps is the result of that started out that way anyway. So trusting teams experience more autonomy.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:48
So how can you apply this? If you think about your team, you should track the minimal necessary metrics to help The team be successful. So what do we do? And why does it matter, but do not control how do not control how they do their work, let them have autonomy. That’s where we’re going to see creativity. That’s where we’re going to see innovation and contribution. And so autonomy is our first solution.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:22
Our second solution, also coming to us from self determination theory is mastery. So when we have more trust at work, we help our people develop mastery, oh, that’s such an important thing. So of course, mastery is the desire to improve. So if you’re motivated by mastery, you’ll likely see your potential as being unlimited. And you’ll constantly seek to improve your skills through learning, and practice. So someone who seeks mastery is really developing skills for its own sake for the value of learning and growing. Now, I don’t know about you, but this would be a great team member to have a team member that’s motivated to get better, who sees their potential is unlimited, who’s constantly seeking to improve their skills through learning and practice, like, sign me up, like, that’s the team member I want. And so when we have trust on our teams, our team members are more likely to develop this mastery because they have some room to grow. And, and that’s right, like that’s incredibly important.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:34
Also important to mastery is that we develop for the intrinsic benefits. So we don’t need the extrinsic rewards. And so we become really great team members, because we’re committed to growth. And we can get on board with the purpose and the mission of the organization. And so one of the second benefits of trusting teams is there’s mastery, that it is absolutely a growth mindset for team members.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:10
Okay, and now the third solution, and this, again, comes to us from self determination theory. And it is purpose now, leaders are always trying to get their team members to connect to purpose. And when we have trust at work, it makes this process much easier. So when we have buy in to purpose, we are starting to work towards purpose. And we’re working towards something that’s larger and more important than ourselves. This is where we get into the realm of contribution, it feels good to be serving a larger purpose, and one that we can believe in, right, you’ve got to have a sense of belief in the purpose. And when we have that this is where our team members become incredibly hardworking, productive and engaged. And I’m not talking in an imbalanced way. But they they have caught that vision. And so of course, we want to think about how we can encourage team members to find purpose in their work. While Are you as a leader talking about purpose, you should always be talking about purpose, and are you trusting your team to do work that is purpose driven. So if you if you have rules for everything that’s done, and why it’s done, you are not trusting your team to connect with purpose, you’re giving them reasons to be resentful, and to be frustrated. And so the third solution is purpose. So do what you can to connect the work and your team members to the higher purpose, you should always be talking about purpose.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:58
And so hopefully, I’ve made a good case for why trust matters at work, and of course, what you can do to help strengthen trust at work. So I’ve given you three solutions from self determination theory. They include autonomy, talk about what the work is, why the work matters, but don’t dictate how the work gets done. That’s a really important place for autonomy, and that will strengthen trust at work. The second solution is mastery, and this this desire to improve, are there opportunities for people to improve? Do you have growth opportunities for your team members? And do you trust them to develop the skills? Third is purpose so what can you do as a leader to connect your team members and their daily work to purpose that is one of your most Most important responsibilities. And when you can connect people to purpose, then there’s so much less need to control their work because it doesn’t you don’t need to. They’re bought in they are on board they are with you on your journey. And so those are three ways to really help you to strengthen trust. And they’re also that this is the cool thing, right? They are ways that you can strengthen trust and they are also benefits of trust at work.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:10
So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode. I’ll include the link to the book review on Drive, you can find that by heading to my website at www.drmelissasmith.com/trustmatters. So one more time that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/trustmatters. I hope that you will take a minute to review the podcast let me know what you think. It also helps other people to find the podcast. I am also social. I’m on Instagram, @dr.melissasmith, I would love to connect with you there. Every day I have some really great teaching tools to help you with what I am sharing on the podcast. So perhaps it helps you to understand something from the podcast in a new way. So please join me on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you. I also want to hear what you would love to hear about on the podcast. I’m always open to that. So I hope you will find me at @dr.melissasmith. So I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai