Virtuous Cycles of Trust

Virtuous Cycles of Trust

At the core of the Great Place To Work® Model are relationships built on trust.  Even our assessment tools are designed to measure the level of trust that exists between employees and management, and a large part of our advisory practice is centered on helping managers and leaders build up reservoirs of trust in their relationships. 

As reported by Paul J. Zak in this Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, when oxytocin (a female reproductive hormone present in both men and women) levels increase in the blood stream, humans are more likely to demonstrate generosity and caring.  This generous response, can be turned “on and off like a garden hose.”

So what does this have to do with trust in the workplace?  Researchers found that even for those who do not naturally experience high oxytocin levels, the caring, generous behavior displayed by someone else can be sufficient to stimulate more generous behavior in the oxytocin-deficient person.  As Zak put it, “all you have to do is give someone a sign of trust.  When one person extends himself to another in a trusting way… the person being trusted experiences a surge in oxytocin that makes her less likely to hold back and less likely to cheat.”  Zak goes on to say, that the act of being trusted makes a person more trustworthy.

Contemplate that for a moment.  Being trusted can make a person more trustworthy.  Moreover, these displays of trust can than trigger a virtuous cycle of trust from manager to employee, employee to manager, employee to employee, and so on.  This very concept lies at the heart of our Journey Training for managers, though our theory was based less on biology and more on the patterns we see between managers and employees at great workplaces.  

If your organization suffers from a trust problem, go ahead and be the first to trust.  Give it a try, and see if you can’t start developing a virtuous cycle of trust within your team.

Leslie Caccamese serves as Senior Strategic Marketing Manager with Great Place To Work® Institute

Journey to Great Webinar - December 12