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Building Trust in a Virtual World

Posted on February 3, 2022
By Liz Weaver

During the last two years, what has your organization or collaborative done to build trust, connection, and relationships? Have you focused inward to ensure that your employees feel trusted and engaged? Have you focused outward to share information broadly and intentionally build relationships?

Two years into a pandemic and in many countries, we have moved to remote work environments, and we are hesitating when considering organizing or attending in-person workshops and gatherings. The threat of the pandemic remains high. And for many of us, feelings of exhaustion, weariness and social isolation are becoming the norm. What does this mean for building trust?


In a world that is more socially distanced, focusing on building trust has become even more relevant. In a 2017 Harvard Business Review article, The Neuroscience of Trust, Paul Zak described building a culture of trust in organizations as a powerful employee engagement and retention strategy. In a series of research studies, Zak measured the levels of oxytocin created in brains during times of stress and when individuals felt trusted.

From his research findings, Zak developed eight behaviours to increase managers' capacity to build trust with employees. These strategies include:
  •  recognizing excellence
  • creating challenging but achievable work outcomes
  • giving people discretion about how they complete the work
  • enabling employees to craft their jobs
  • sharing information broadly
  • intentionally building relationships
  • facilitating whole-person growth
  • showing vulnerability

Zak found that companies where managers engaged in trust-building behaviours had higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention, employees felt less stress, and overall production at the company increased.


                             Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity,                                                     13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.


What does building trust mean for collaboration and collaborative groups? In Trust Fuels Every Relationship, Dan Cardinali explores the challenges of trust and civil society. He notes that an Independent Sector survey found that trust was declining and that nonprofits and philanthropy were not immune to this trend. He also identified that greater engagement builds trust and purpose and integrity fuels trust between people and nonprofits.

During the last two years, what has your organization or collaborative done to build trust, connection, and relationships? Have you focused inward to ensure that your employees feel trusted and engaged? Have you focused outward to share information broadly and intentionally build relationships?

Building trust is about intentional action. A tool that can be used by organizations and collaborative tables to gauge where trust is strong and where it might be breaking down is the Culture Design Canvas. Designed by Fearless Consulting, the canvas can help a group, a collaborative table, or an organization identify what it values and how it acts.

In this virtual and hybrid world, a focus on building trust will deepen your connections and your impact.

If you want to learn more about building trust, sign up for the workshop Turf, Trust and Virtual Collaboration: Practical Skills for Building Trust on February 22, 2022. Space is limited. Sign up today.

Additional Articles about Trust:

Topics:
Community Engagement, Collaborative Leadership, Liz Weaver, Community Building, Community Innovation, Blog, Homepage Blog


Liz Weaver

By Liz Weaver

Liz is passionate about the power and potential of communities getting to impact on complex issues. Liz is Tamarack’s Co-CEO and Director, Learning Centre. In this role she provides strategic direction to the organization and leads many of its key learning activities including collective impact capacity building services for the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Liz is one of Tamarack's highly regarded trainers and has developed and delivered curriculum on a variety of workshop topics including collaborative governance, leadership, collective impact, community innovation, influencing policy change and social media for impact and engagement.

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