Research from Professor Paul Zak at Claremont Graduate University reveals 8 boss behaviors that foster trust:

  1. Intentionally building relationships
  2. Facilitating whole-person growth
  3. Showing vulnerability
  4. Sharing information broadly
  5. Inducing challenge stress
  6. Encouraging autonomy
  7. Recognizing excellence
  8. Enabling job crafting

And of these, Zak discovered that our lowest trust scores occur in:

  1. Recognizing excellence
  2. Sharing information

Let’s pause to digest this… as bosses we are better at encouraging autonomy and enabling job crafting than we are at simply recognizing excellence and sharing information with people on our teams.

But when we dig into the reality of our jobs, here’s what’s happening:

  • We’re busy so we forget to say “woo-hooo!”
  • We’re obsessed about the happiness of our boss and our customers which has us constantly focused on what’s wrong or could go wrong (thereby neglecting to notice what’s going right).
  • We filter information to ensure our people have exactly what they need to do their jobs.
  • We think we’re bothering our already-busy teams.
  • We believe they don’t really care – they just want a paycheck.

But they do care! In fact, Zak’s research shows that high-trust teams are more productive, have more energy, collaborate better, stress less, and stay longer.

So what should we do? Institutionalize recognition and information-sharing:

  • Set a weekly calendar appointment to send appreciation emails
  • Organize a daily huddle to exchange updates
  • Write 1 thank-you card a week
  • Create a peer-recognition program
  • Solicit and post testimonials about the team from boss/customers/peers
  • Add “recognize excellence” and “share information” to 1:1/team agendas
  • Dissect quarterly shareholder reports with the team to explain the organization’s direction, goals, strategies, and tactics

Arguably recognizing people and sharing information should be organic leadership skills. But until they are…

We need intentional structures that help us strengthen these valuable, best-boss-ever, trust-building muscles.

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