Learning from the neuroscience of trust

Trust is the foundation of the human relationship and the foundation of an effective team. I recently shared how our behavior will create or destroy trust in the article The Evolution of Trust, and more about trust as the foundation of a team in the article The Five Dysfunction of a Team.

Paul J. Zak, the author of Trust Factor, shares in The Neuroscience of Trust the 8 management behaviors that will foster trust.

We could use the 8 behaviors as discussion points with teams to improve our way of working. The question could be, How are we doing on:

  1. Recognize excellence: personal public recognition from peers that occurs immediately after the fact, tangible and unexpected has the largest effect on trust.
  2. Induce “challenge stress”: stretch goal, but a still achievable goal, assigned to a team will intensify focus and strengthen the social connection.
  3. Give people discretion in how they do their work: autonomy and self-organization, is another important contributor, being trusted creates trust.
  4. Enable job crafting: trusting people to choose what they will work will ensure focus and motivation. The author gives the example of Valve, the gaming software company, I recommend their employee handbook to have an idea of how they work, and inspire the conversation with your teams.
  5. Share information broadly: uncertainty and stress undermine teamwork, openness, transparency and daily synchronization are the proposed antidotes.
  6. Intentionally build relationships: encourage people to care for each other will make them happier and more productive.
  7. Facilitate whole-person growth: meet frequently and give constant feedback on personal and professional growth.
  8. Show vulnerability: asking for help, and acknowledging what we don’t know, help to build credibility.

Could this discussion be the Retrospective on Trust for your team?

The Advantage of a book discussion club

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business is a book by Patrick Lencioni. This one is not a business novel, like The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (you may have read that previous post).

The book purpose is to explain a model to bring organizational health.

I will not enter into the details of the book itself as you can read a summary here. The goal of that post is to explain how we used that book with a leadership team I work with.

I like to read books, so I usually recommend books to read to others. I am using some books as the theme for retreat meetings for teams. I used the Five Dysfunction of a Team for the first meeting of that leadership team.

A few weeks later, one other reader in the group, shared his reading notes on The Practice of Management by Peter Druker and proposed actions based on what he learned in the book. The results were good, and this fosters the idea to organize a book discussion club. The first book we chose: The Advantage. The book club was organized the day before the quarterly meeting of the leadership team.

And so we used the book as an introduction to our meeting, as a warm up for the retrospective. And also decided to answer the 6 questions below as a way to prepare our review of our Objectives and Key Results.

1. Why do we exist? The answer to this question will yield a core purpose or the fundamental reason the company is in business.
2. How do we behave? This question examines behaviors and values required for success.
3. What do we do? This answer provides a simple, direct explanation of the business.
4. How will we succeed? This question requires the team members to develop a strategy.
5. What is most important, right now? The answer to this question is the establishment of a unifying thematic goal and action plan.
6. Who must do what? This question addresses roles and responsibilities.

A few weeks later, I can say that this was a really effective meeting, and we already chose the next book: Competing Against Luck from Clayton Christensen.

Something to try with your team?

 

The Evolution of Trust

When forming a team, or starting to work with a team, I usually start with the foundation of a team: Trust.

I even used several times, the book from Patrick Lencioni: The Five Dysfunction of a Team, obviously because the “Absence of Trust” is the base of the pyramid.

I remember playing 2 times, with large teams, a game based on the game theory, and a variant of the prisoner’s dilemma. The effects with one of the team were really great, for the one, where one of the participants betrayed not only the other team but also his own team, the results were not so good, for him and for his relationship with others in the larger team.

So I am always struggling with the idea of bringing that game to build trust, because we could have someone in the group that will betray the others, and after that, it is difficult to deal with it. One of the participants told me one time: “at least, now, we all know”.

The idea of the article has been triggered by the brilliant work from Nicky Case: The Evolution of Trust.

The recommendation (The ask?) is for you to play with it, and to get other people to play with it.

This could help you and others to better grasp how we build or destroy trust.

Ready to play?

It’s here: http://ncase.me/trust/

Beyond Measure

Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes is a book by Margaret Heffernan published by TED.

And it starts with:

Beyond-MeasuresTrust

The author suggests an exercise for team members. Form pairs in which one will ask a real question and listen for 5 minutes: “Who you really are?”, “What do you want in life?”. Silent listening, maintaining eye contact for 5 minutes is a great exercise. And then we switch role for another 5 minutes.

I already tried similar exercises using appreciative inquiry to start workshop or training with people that don’t know each other well. I can attest this is efficient!

Trust between team members is a prerequisite to developing our ability to talk about our mistakes and to develop our capacity to learn from those mistakes. This foundation for effective teams is also covered in this article: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Social capital

Margaret introduce the notion of social capital with:

“The dynamic between people is what brings organization to life.”

She explains the importance of the time spent together at work, during breaks or lunch. She gives an example of the decision to synchronize breaks in a call center that dramatically improved the performance.

Interruptions

If some time needs to be dedicated to interactions between people, quite time needs to be organized to allow concentration. I already covered this topic in a previous article: Let us Code. One of the example given is a scientific study that shows the danger of multitasking. People are shown a video recording – in a typical news channel format – of a CEO explaining the strategy of a company. People are told to focus their attention to the sequence as there will be some questions to answer after that. They have been asked to give their opinion about the strategy… And if they were able to remember some information, together with not relevant ones about weather, stock quotes, other news alerts, that were displayed on the multiple banners… They were totally unable to criticize the strategy. The conclusion of the study was that multitasking prevents us to think. Quite scary if we think about who are the people addicted to multitasking in organizations.

Rest

The author also quotes other studies on work day duration (more than 11 hours a day lead to depression) or necessity for the brain to rest at least for 7 or 8 hours a day (less lead to reducing the ability to think).

Leadership

Margaret explains the Pygmalion effect: expect great things, and they will more probably happen. This reminds us the importance to define ambitious goals, and to believe in the ability of people to reach those goals.

She encourages also to get rid of silos, and to empower people, to accept that leadership needs to be fluid, linked to skills and not to titles and ranks… Title and ranks could lead a part of the people (unfortunately the majority) to think that they are not good enough… And the Pygmalion effect will play in a bad way.

She recommends to people to choose to make some space for their contribution, even if it’s not their job or their role, just because it’s their life.

The author also gives the example of check lists, that reduced by a third mortality in hospitals as a way to take the power from a few to empower the many. This has been covered in another article: Black Box.

When we accept that there are talented people everywhere, people will think not only about the work to be done, but why we need to do it, and how to do it.

When you have done what is needed, Ask yourself what one more thing you could do to make those people happy?

A book to read (or to listen) and you could start with a TED conference given by the author:

Margaret-Heffernan-TED-Talks

La photo d’entête est de Ryan McGuire.