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Karing zingmark: how to build trust in teams

Why is change so stressful? And why do a million people working here in Sweden feel uncomfortable at work? In her recent lunchtime masterclass at Epicenter Stockholm, renowned business writer and speaker Karin Zingmark explained how it all comes down to trust – or a lack of. In these very unique times, when the entire working environment changed just over night – this is more relevant than ever. Missed the session? Don’t worry. Here’s your chance to catch up.

Next time you’re in a change situation, keep your eyes and ears peeled. Spot any strange behaviours creeping in? Are people becoming more protective? Excluding others? Taking credit for success that wasn’t theirs? If you’ve noticed these shifts, you’re not alone, reassures Speaker of the Year nominee Karin Zingmark.

Why change changes everything

Few of us are naturally comfortable with change. After all, it can make us feel threatened, questioned, even insecure. Karin reminds us of the classic Maslow model, showing how our need to feel safe is only one step up from our most basic physiological demands. So when business or organisational change is on the agenda, our core behaviours often change, too. And as Karin points out, that’s rarely for the better.

In fact, when fear-induced behaviours creep into an organisation, three things happen according to research by Christine Porath, professor at the McDonough School of Business. First, we intentionally decrease productivity by up to 48%. Then, we let quality slide. And finally, we waste an incredible amount of time and effort discussing what has gone so wrong. “It’s business’ biggest energy thief” Karin explains, detracting focus and efforts from getting behind driving what really matters.

But how can leaders bring about positive change without breeding these bad behaviours? Karin says it starts with walking the talk about trust.

The business case for trust

When teams are built on trust, there’s less scope for change-based fear. She acknowledges it might feel like a soft value to some. Yet there’s no denying the impact on the bottom line: teams reporting high levels of trust experience less stress, higher productivity, more energy, higher engagement and a staggering 40% fewer burnout cases according to research done by Paul J. Zack, professor at the Claremont Graduate University.

So how can we, as leaders, proactively build trust in our teams? Karin shares 8 ways to do this.

  1. Recognise excellence
    The secret here is to act at the right time. Don’t wait ’til that monthly meeting or company away day. Give praise when and where it’s due. And make sure everyone hears, and celebrates the success together.
  2. Induce challenged stress
    Prove your trust in your team’s abilities by setting challenges that grow both skills and confidence. If you believe they can rise to the task, so will they.
  3. Don’t micromanage
    Nothing undermines trust like helicopter-style leadership, so empower your teams to get on with the task unaided. One watch out from Karin: try not to confuse helping out with taking over.
  4. Enable job crafting
    Spot people’s passion for different aspects of their job and hunt for ways to let those skills flourish.
  5. Share information broadly
    Do you push information out – or actually communicate? When people aren’t in a receiving mindset, misunderstandings – and doubt – are much more likely, says Karin.
  6. Invest time in relationships
    To erase misunderstandings, distrust or disconnection, you need to spend time together recommends Karin. Get out of town. Hang out as a team. Get to know each other as people as well as colleagues.
  7. Facilitate whole-person growth
    Leaders who can see both the personal and professional needs of their team earn trust more easily than those with a more one-dimensional view. Try it!
  8. Be vulnerable!
    Dare to admit you don’t have all the answers. Be ok with taking risks. Show you’re infallibly human, encourages Karin. It’s your trust-building superpower; trust yourself to use it.

Which of these 8 tips will you try first? Thanks to Karin for inspiring and guiding our lunchtime talk, and be sure to check out her latest management best-seller ‘Maxa Modet’. Today when leadership skills are tested to its maximum, these are truly valuable insights.