Feeling Safe, Feeling Valued, Builds Trust

Why are these qualities needed to ensure that employees flourish? What is it about these basic human needs that makes it so important for organizations to recognize how toxic the environment is without them?

Much has been said regarding the importance of trust in the workplace, in building relationships that thrive. Yet trust remains elusive in most work places. As a leader, if your people don’t trust you or each other, then you must know you aren’t getting quality performance from them. A lack of trust creates a culture of fear and fear will only motivate for mediocrity.

Neuroscience knows that when we don’t feel safe, the pre-frontal cortex shuts down. It’s where we do our creative, logical thinking. Shutting down as a response to fear, narrowing our focus, is part of our human survival mechanism.

In the documentary ‘Everybody Matters’, Simon Sinek says in an interview, for those who aren’t interested in the human side of business, that there are enough business reasons to adopt measures for caring: “People who like coming to work are more productive. People who feel safe amongst their own, who can trust the people they work with, are more likely to offer bigger ideas, take better risks, be more innovative and be more productive.” What isn’t to like about this?

What is one simple step you, as a (personal) leader, can take towards creating a higher trust culture within your organization? Well, organizations are comprised of organisms (in this case, people). A thriving business is built on thriving relationships, both internally and externally. The answer to my question is simple as well: value your colleagues by showing you care. Give recognition for work well done or for a small gesture of collegiality! There is no large investment of time, energy or other resources needed. Honest, sincere, and clearly stated appreciation will earn you huge credits in the trust department.

The image here gives a good indication as to why you might want to address your culture of (dis)trust sooner, rather than later.

Source: Everybody Matters

Barbara Fredrickson, a distinguished Professor of Psychology at the UNC Kenan-Flagler School of Business, has developed a theory called the Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions. Her research shows that negative emotions narrow our focus. Positive emotions such as gratitude broaden our attention; they broaden our awareness and they help us to be more creative and more cognitively flexible. As an extra benefit, one of the variables for resilience is mental agility. By adding positive emotions to your daily interactions, you create greater resilience in yourself and in others.

If you still think there isn’t a reason to create attitudes of gratitude for happier, more trusting and highly engaged workplaces, please go back to the quote above by Simon Sinek.

To paraphrase a statement by Bob Chapman in the documentary ‘Everybody Matters’: What a difference it would make if businesses would focus more on human value, than on shareholder value.