According to recent research, 84% of employees believe that the pandemic has not affected their trust in a company or manager. We know, however, that new reality brought myriads of challenges related to working online.
Building trust is a challenging process, especially for companies that have never been working online. For some, it has become a real uphill struggle! Building trust in a remote team isn’t effortless but it really pays off. See how to build trust in your team.
Is trusting others in our nature?
Striving for harmony is in human nature. The key to creating a harmonious environment based on trust, loyalty, and commitment lies deep within us, and specifically in the human brain. The research conducted by a team of scientists led by Paul Zak focused on examining the levels of oxytocin in various situations.
Oxytocin is known as a hormone produced by the mother’s body allowing her to build a strong bond with her newborn child. The researchers wondered if there is any relationship between oxytocin and trust levels. During the experiment, participants were entrusted with a sum of money. They could either keep it or send it to others and that way – triple the amount of money. When participants’ blood levels of oxytocin were higher, they tended to send money to other participants, assuming that they could be trusted.
How do build bonds between coworkers?
Here are situations in a workplace that, according to the abovementioned researchers, stimulate a brain to produce oxytocin:
- Recognition of brilliance
- Creating challenges
- Giving others a choice as to how they do their job
- Enabling the creation of tasks
- Sharing information
- Building relationships
- Enabling people to develop
- Showing vulnerability
Socialize to build trust
Some people changed jobs during the pandemic and never had an opportunity to meet their co-worker’s face to face! Working online creates fewer opportunities for socializing. In the office, in turn, this comes naturally. Meeting in a kitchen, coming together for coffee breaks – these are the routines that foster socializing, and thereby – building trust.
Building trust online
How do I know that my staff really works? How can I know they are focused and committed? Are they efficient? During the pandemic, managers asked themselves the above questions and struggled with the challenge of building trust in their remote teams.
To trust, or to verify?
As the saying goes – “trust but verify”. Many managers, though, chose either building trust or verifying. In recent years, many companies decided to employ apps for monitoring workers’ activities. On the one hand, these tools might be beneficial since they provide you with instant insight. On the other hand – it is rather a way of verifying than building trust. Using such apps might cause concerns of ethical nature among workers. Instead of employing sophisticated software, managers could use some simple steps to build confidence and commitment in their team. Here is how.
1. Acknowledge emotions
According to Stanford Business School research, recognizing negative emotions fosters building trust. At work, people tend to acknowledge positive feelings and, for many reasons, pretend not to see unhappiness, anger, or stress. Recognizing difficult emotions comes with some effort but when you undertake this endeavor, you build trust. To identify emotions, you need to see facial expressions – they can tell more than 1000 words. Then, ensure to keep your camera on during online meetings and encourage your employees to do so.
2. Plan team activities online
Use scheduled meetings on Teams or Skype to discuss some off-topic subjects. Ask about weekend plans or holiday dreams. This may seem unnatural at first but if repeated, it will become a habit. Why not arrange an online team-building event? This way, you will stay in touch and keep your team involved.
3. Be vulnerable
“Work is not a place to show your weakness”. “I will not ask for help because I’m professional”. Many people still believe that they need to struggle with duties on their own. As Simon Sinek, a well-known author and an inspirational speaker says: we don’t build trust when we offer help. We build trust when we ask for it!”. Show weakness, be truthful and authentic and soon you will achieve amazing results.
4. Take advantage of the Agile mindset
Agile teams are focused on flexibility, communication, transparency, and self-organization. Use agile techniques while functioning online to build a healthy working environment. You will see that people who feel trusted, are more committed and feel truly responsible for the results of their work. One of the companies that use agile methodologies to work online with nearshoring partners is JCommerce company from Poland.
5. Let go of control
Handing over control is the most important test of trust. But only this way, can managers teach their employees to make their own decisions and, most importantly, face their consequences. Letting go of control is the best way to tell your team “I trust you”. This is also part and parcel of working in Agile methodologies, e.g. Scrum, in which the team decides who, when, and how will carry out a given task.
What are the benefits of building trust?
Let’s imagine that you followed all of the abovementioned steps. What benefits can you expect?
- Better collaboration – trust has an impact on many aspects of team collaboration such as respect, commitment and mutual support. People who trust each other, who know each other, simply like working together. As many studies have shown, working with people that we like leads to even better results.
- Fluent communication – efficient communication in projects is both a challenge, and goal. It is much easier to communicate with people you trust. When we assume that others are doing their best to complete task, we don’t waste energy and can focus on our own work. In teams that trust each other, communication is smooth and beneficial to all team members.
- Common trust – trusting also pays off in the sense that the more we trust others, the more likely they are to trust us. This benefits everyone involved in the collaboration.
Building trust is a process that requires a lot of effort. Especially now, when most of us work online, creating an atmosphere of trust will require time and a lot of commitment. Not only the manager, but also everyone involved in a team can contribute to creating the healthy working environment.
The more trust we give to others, the more we get in return. People working in highly trusted companies report 74% less stress and have higher energy levels. A culture built on trust (and not micromanagement) Improves the overall life satisfaction of employees and minimizes the chance of burnout.