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Can Employers Trust Employees to Work Their Own Way?

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The modern-day workplace requires a lot of flexibility. Employees want more than a regular paycheck. They want to have autonomy, work-life balance, make meaningful contributions through their job and, most importantly, they want company trust.

Running a high-trust company means leaders are respectful, reliable, flexible, communicative and authentic with their employees. They understand and highlight individual strengths, challenge and encourage employees, and know that their team is qualified to complete the job.

Paul J. Zak, Author of “Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies” has done years of research on the positive impact of running a high-trust company. High levels of trust impacts productivity, quality of work and company profit. According to Zak’s research, people at high-trust companies have 74% less stress, 50% higher productivity and 76% more engagement. They also have higher life satisfaction.


In Zak’s Harvard Business Review article he describes that “connection with one’s work and colleagues, feeling like a real contributor, and enjoying ample chances to learn—consistently leads to positive outcomes for both individuals and organizations.”

Here are the top ways to encourage your employees best work while simultaneously building company trust.

Understand Learning Styles

In order to trust that employees can work their own way, you first have to understand how they learn and produce. According to Howard Garner’s research, there are seven types of learning styles: visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social and solitary.

What this implies is that way an employee learns, thinks and is productive is completely individualized to them. An organized, detail-oriented employee has different needs than your big-picture, strategic employee.

It is very important for leadership to understand multiple intelligences and various working styles. The environment that is best for one employee may not work for another.

You could try to make your employees work a particular way, the way you think an office “should” work, but that doesn’t mean your employee is set up to do the best job.

You can’t change someone’s learning style, so you need to be in tune with it. Instead of trying to make your employee conform to arbitrary rules, accentuate their strengths. If they are a visual person, provide them with charts. If they are a solitary learner, give them time to think before a meeting. You will improve the quality of your production by giving your team the tools they need to succeed.

Be Flexible

Not everything can happen at the exact time and day that you expect it to. In order for new ideas to flourish, the company must have the ability to be flexible. Flexibility is firm, but adaptable.

This includes, but is not limited to, ability to work from home, flexible working hours, self-imposed deadlines and conversations instead of demands.

Continue to have designated “in office” days, schedule regular check ins and have team building exercises. But also allow space for people to have their own way of doing things. Remember that your employees are responsible adults.

A flexible company allows employees to manage their own time and tasks.

If you work with your employees, not only will the work get done, but the employees will feel less stress. Less stress equals happy employees. Happy employees mean higher quality work.

Give Responsibility

You know the old saying, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

With a culture of trust, your employee will start to take personal responsibility for their work. If you always provide the structure and the timelines and the exact lay out how it should be done, you’re not teaching your employee to “fish”. You’re teaching them to follow orders (you’re also teaching them how to resent you).

Stop micromanaging. With a micromanaging method, two people are doing the job of one. It’s exhausting for leadership and the employees.

Instead, empower your employees to do the work themselves in their own style. Give project goals instead of instructions. Keep the job interesting and challenge them to do tasks their way.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but by trusting your employees, they will be more motivated to do the job well because they will feel personally responsible for the outcome. They will want to do it well because it has become their own project, not just an order.

Give your employees the chance to feel purposeful. They want their work to have a meaningful contribution.

Nexxt is a recruitment media company that uses today’s most effective marketing tactics to reach the full spectrum of talent – from active to passive, and everything in between. Learn more about hiring with Nexxt.

This article was written by Kris Leigh Townsend.

Kris Leigh Townsend is a writer based in Los Angeles.

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