How To Build Trust In Your Organization

How To Build Trust In Your Organization

At Officevibe, we make employee survey software for companies and the most common theme in the questions we get asked about how our product works is about trust. There is such a huge problem with trust inside most organizations.

When companies contact us, their intentions are usually good, they want to create an environment where they can collect feedback from employees to improve the company culture, but they go about it the wrong way. Companies often spend lots of time and energy on creating employee surveys, but there is usually very low participation. From the research I’ve seen, 30% is the average response rate for employee surveys.

A Look at Trust

One of the main reasons why participation rates are so low is because of a lack of trust in the organization. There is a lot of fear around how the data will be used.

  • Employees are skeptical about how anonymous the surveys actually are
  • Employees are nervous they’ll get in trouble (or fired) for speaking the truth

Let’s look at some of the data behind trust inside organizations.

In a McKinsey Quarterly survey of executives around the world, 85% said that public trust in business had deteriorated.

In the Edelman Trust Barometer, 62% respondents said that they “trust corporations less now than they did a year ago.”

David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University and author of The Truth About Trust, says that as a person’s power increases, their perceived trustworthiness goes down. As someone moves up in the organization, they are further removed from employees and have less of a direct connection with them, unlike their direct manager.

In the book, DeSteno talks about six rules for building trust. The sixth rule is my personal favorite. The sixth rule for building trust, according to DeSteno, is “Cultivate trust from the bottom up.” That means delegating tasks and giving employees as much autonomy as possible.

Remember, trust is a two-way street. The best way to build trust is to give trust.

Employees also need clarity on what you expect of them. While giving them autonomy, give them clear instructions and explain how their performance will be measured.

Ways To Build More Trust In An Organization

As leaders, how can we build trust in our organization? It’s possible, but it does take time. Trust is earned, and as a leader, you need to prove yourself to employees before trust is established.

Take Responsibility
If trust has been broken because you did something wrong, then you need to take responsibility and own up to the mistake as quickly as possible. You should also spend some time thinking about the reasons for why you did what you did, because if employees have questions, you should be able to explain yourself clearly.

Be Patient
This is a tough rule to follow, but an important one. When trust has been broken, it will take some time to rebuild it. This is something that’s out of your control, so learning how to accept it and be patient is a good idea.

Instead of focusing on what you can’t control (time), focus on what you can control, like your actions in how you recover from this broken trust. Focus on continuously keeping your word, and doing small actions to help rebuild that trust.

Listen To Employees

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
-Dalai Lama

Employees might feel the need to vent if they are upset about their trust being broken. Embrace that feedback, and invite them to help you get better. Including them in that process is a small step in rebuilding that trust, because it shows that you value their opinions.

Be Transparent

“Transparency breeds trust, and trust is the foundation of great teamwork.”
-Joel Gascoigne, CEO of Buffer

Buffer is a great example of a company that is redefining what it means to be transparent. They share everything, I’ve never seen a company share so much information, they never cease to amaze me. They share their revenue numbers, bank balance, employee salaries, and every email in the company is transparent. They even have an entire section of their blog dedicated to sharing these insights.

Stripe, the payments company, also has transparent email. Every email in the company is public and searchable by any employee. I definitely recommend everyone read this post about how they handle email transparency.

Square, another payments company is an amazing example of embracing transparency.

Communicate A Lot
Here’s a good rule of thumb – if you think you’re communicating enough, you’re not communicating enough.

There is no such thing as too much communication, and one of the best ways to build trust is to communicate frequently and clearly so that everyone understands things the same way. At Officevibe we obsessively use Slack, the communications app that’s slowly becoming the fastest growing start-up ever.

“Ultimately, if you want people to make smart decisions, they need context and all available information. And certainly if you want people to make the same decisions that you would make, but in a more scalable way, you have to give them the same information you have.”
-Keith Rabois, COO of Square

In it, we create different “channels” (which are like chat rooms) to communicate on any and every subject. This keeps transparency and communication high.

How Have You Built Trust In Your Organization?

Share your stories on social media. Thank you!

What Employees Really Want (And How To Give It To Them)

What Employees Really Want

With all the research and literature on employee engagement, it’s amazing that so many companies still get it wrong.

Employee engagement can’t be an afterthought anymore. It has clear and measurable impacts on your company’s bottom-line. Companies spend obscene amounts of money trying to measure engagement and “move the needle,” without any real long term results.

That’s simply because they’re doing it wrong.

An extra bonus check or pizza party won’t really make much of a difference if the core issues are never fully addressed. Companies would be wise to focus on these (free) intrinsic motivators.

Engagement isn’t something you “fix”. It’s really a long term commitment that needs to be taken seriously by everyone in the company. The analogy I always use is if you woke up one day and realized you had gained a lot of weight, you wouldn’t make an appointment at the gym a year later. You would work on improving yourself every single day, eating healthier and exercising regularly, measuring your results along the way.

Something like an annual survey or annual performance review doesn’t make sense anymore. Too much happens in between the year to only look at it once during the year.

So then the question becomes, what do employees really want? What are they really looking for?

1. Personal Growth

“The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table: Pay people enough so that they’re not thinking about money and they’re thinking about the work. Once you do that, it turns out there are three factors that the science shows lead to better performance, not to mention personal satisfaction: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. – Dan Pink”

Made famous by Dan Pink with his book Drive and his TED talk The Puzzle Of Motivation, autonomy, mastery, and purpose are all important for personal growth.

First, let’s define what these three things mean.

  • Autonomy – “The desire to direct our own lives”
    • To satisfy their need for Autonomy, you can let employees pick their next project, or let them mentor a newer employee.
  • Mastery – “The urge to become better at something”
    • To satisfy their need for Mastery, you can encourage them to take courses online, or more senior employees could spend some time mentoring them.
  • Purpose – “Feeling like you’re part of something bigger”
    • To satisfy their need for Purpose, you need to be constantly reminding employees what the bigger vision of the company is, and more importantly what role they play in achieving that vision.

2. Good Relationships With Coworkers

A study on the effects of being ignored at work, found that it’s just as bad, if not worse than being bullied.

The study found that “having no role to play in work culture was more detrimental to one’s well-being than having a negative role to play.”

Little things, like saying good morning to your coworkers, or inviting them out to lunch with you can really go a long way. Everyone just wants to feel included. This is especially important for new hires, who are so nervous about this new environment, and just want to fit in.

Companies should change their onboarding processes and educate every employee in the company on how important of an issue this is, and how everyone needs to be friendly with each other.

A doctoral thesis by researcher Helen Stockhult, Employees in dialogue: A study on the willingness to do more than the formally expected, found that “social relationships between colleagues are at the root of an employee’s willingness to take on responsibilities beyond their formal job description”.

Similarly, Gallup found that if you have a best friend at your work, you’re much more motivated and productive.

Officevibe released an infographic about friendships at work, and some of the data on there was very interesting. For example:

  • 70% of employees say friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life.
  • 58% of men would refuse a higher paying job if it meant not getting along with coworkers. 74% of women said the same.
  • 25% increase in employee morale and productivity for simple things like larger lunch tables.
  • 50% of employees with a best friend at work reported that they feel a strong connection with their company.

3. Recognition And Praise

In the book How Full Is Your Bucket by Donald Clifton, looking at 40 years of research on recognition and praise, he found that the number one reason people leave their jobs is from not feeling appreciated.

This is the simplest thing you can do to increase engagement, and yet 65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year.

According to research from Deloitte:

  • Organizations with a strong employee recognitions approach are 12x more likely to have strong business results.
  • Organizations with effective recognition programs had 31% lower voluntary turnover than organizations with ineffective recognition programs.

4. Frequent Feedback

First, let’s look at some data from Deloitte:

  • 14.9% lower turnover rates in companies that implement regular employee feedback.
  • 4 out of 10 workers are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback.
  • 65% of employees said they wanted more feedback

Have you ever heard of Google’s Project Oxygen? Without going into too much detail, they poured through hundreds of surveys, performance reviews, etc. to try and find qualities that make up a good manager.

The number one trait on the list: Be a good coach.

Employees want managers to provide specific feedback and have regular one-on-one meetings with them.

How To Give Employees What They Want

The truth is, implementing and focusing on these things doesn’t require an insane effort, and doesn’t cost a thing. The biggest challenge is simply being mindful of all of this, and making sure that you’re staying consistent in your approach.

The first step to improving anything is to measure it. The best example of a company that knows how to measure employee engagement in order to improve it is Google. They are light-years ahead of any HR department because of the sophistication of their people analytics.

1. The Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is originally a customer service tool.

The way it works, is you ask a customer a simple question: “On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our product/service to a friend?”

Scores 6 or lower are known as detractors, 6-8 are known as neutral, and 8-10 are known as promoters. To get your score, you take the number of promoters, minus the number of detractors, and divide by the total number of answers.

In product management, it’s the best way to know if your product is actually good, because the theory is, if someone is willing to recommend your product to a friend, then they actually like it.

Instead of using it for customer service, use it to gauge how employees really feel about your company.

I’ve spoken with the godfather of NPS, Rob Markey from Bain & Company:

2. Focus On Core Values

Your core values are what will guide you through everything. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed as an employee working at companies with incredible cultures and others without a good culture is their focus on values.

It’s incredibly demotivating to not really have a mission, and switch priorities on a whim.

3. Foster Friendships At Work

Another thing I’ve noticed that separates forward-thinking companies from old-school, backwards thinking companies is the emphasis on creating meaningful friendships between coworkers.

Even without looking at the data I mentioned above, it makes sense that if everyone on the team is close and gets along well, they’ll work better together. Organizing simple team building events like a happy hour or going out for lunch are great ways to let the team bond.

More than anything though, encourage chit chat at the office. I remember at an old job I used to get in trouble for “disturbing” my coworkers if I went over to ask how their weekend was. That’s the wrong way of thinking, because discussion leads to innovation.

What Do You Think Employees Really Want?

Recognition? Frequent feedback? Opportunities to grow personally and professionally? Do you think what I’m saying makes sense? Anything to add? Let me know your thoughts on social media!