Are you looking to increase productivity, crush your organizational goals and maximize revenue/profit? Do you want increase creative ideas and/or problem-solving? Gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace?

If you answered, “yes” to any of the above, read on.

I’m going to share with you how to do it along with the deep psychological and emotional reasons(and research) behind why it will work for you.

It’s also fun, quick and easy and it will make a major impact on your team’s performance – up to 7x increase (according to research studies). You’ll be able to get people to be operating at peak performance on a consistent basis.

Imagine how much more you will be able to accomplish in the next year if you can do that?! Imagine what that will do for your career and/or business?!

Here is the first critical concept to understand: Increasing engagement and maximizing outcomes are directly linked to how much people trust others within the group and trust you, the leader.

And that’s completely broken today for most leaders.

Many teams/organizations are run by leaders who are very poor managers. This leads to disengagement and subpar performance/productivity.

Here are a few data points on why this happening:

  • Research studies show that 90%+ of employee work satisfaction/engagement is based on trust. 70% of US workers are dissatisfied, which highlights a major trust deficit.
  • 45% of people today don’t trust their leaders, and that’s having a major impact on the team and organizational success.
  •  “The overwhelming majority—a shocking 80%—of employees surveyed think they could do their job without managers and deem them unnecessary.”
  • “71% of managers say they know how to motivate their team, but only 44% of employees agree that their manager knows how to motivate them.”
  • Gallup’s, “State of the American Manager, managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores.
  • Most managers aren’t getting any training or the training they are getting isn’t working.

With any major challenge lies a huge opportunity. The teams and organizations that can figure out how to boost trust are going to gain a major competitive advantage.

The ones who can build a high-level of trust will:

  1. Get significantly more done because participation will increase.
  2. Come up with many more suggestions for improvement and innovation.
  3. Come much more prepared for meetings and won’t be looking at their email or thinking about what they have to do for the rest of the day.
  4. Look to contribute much more than they criticize others.
  5. Be much more open to change and new ideas.
  6. Help others proactively and be invested in their success.
  7. Will work smarter, harder and longer leading to productivity and bottom line gains.

Don’t you think that creating an environment like this will make you a more effective leader and help everyone as well?

There is a very specific reason why this works, and this is the “secret sauce.”

The most important component of trust is caring. The more you get people to care about the people in the group and get them invested in the success of other people, you’ll see performance immediately increase. (Check out the research of Charles Feltman to learn more about this)

“CARING is the assessment that you have the other person’s interests in mind as well as your own when you make decisions and take actions. Of the four assessments of trustworthiness, care is in some ways the most important for building lasting trust. When people believe you are only concerned with your self-interest and don’t consider their interests as well, they may trust your sincerity, reliability, and competence, but they will tend to limit their trust of you to specific situations or transactions. On the other hand, when people believe you hold their interest in mind, they will extend their trust more broadly to you.”

Then the question comes up, “so how do I get people to care about the team and team’s success?”

1) Belonging is in every human beings DNA. They want to be apart of groups that are meaningful for them and ones in which they feel close to the people.

2) Research confirms that disconnection from people will kill you. It’s as essential as food, water, shelter and a basic human need. Loneliness is the equivalency of smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

  • (Check out the incredible research by Professor John Cacioppo at the University of Chicago that backs this up. “Cacioppo discusses how the need for social connection is so fundamental in humans that without it we fall apart, down to the cellular level. Over time blood pressure climbs and gene expression falters. Cognition dulls; immune systems deteriorate. Aging accelerates under the constant, corrosive presence of stress hormones. Loneliness, Cacioppo argued, isn’t some personality defect or sign of weakness—it’s a survival impulse like hunger or thirst.”)

Creating belonging is the team is absolutely essential.

If you apply the same logic to how you would build any relationship outside of work, you will be able to do this quite quickly.

The more people know about you, the more emotionally invested they get in you.You do that through sharing, listening and asking questions.

When you share with others you become more vulnerable. When you become more vulnerable, you become more invested in others and vice-versa.

And when the leader in a group becomes vulnerable it tells other people it is safe to share. That’s why I always recommend the leader needs to start sharing first for this to work.

This opens the floodgates “of sharing” to create psychological safety in the team/organization (i.e. the #1 factor in maximum team performance according to a three-year study by Google).

The reason that psychological safety can be created really quickly is that people can relate not only to the shared experiences but the shared emotions.

For example, if you describe a loss in your life, other people in the room have had some form of loss in their lives. It may not be the same loss (i.e. your mom passing away). But they can relate to your story through shared emotions (pain, hurt, sadness, etc.).

And if you do activities that can quickly get people to open and share, you are fast-tracking the relationship building process. What could take years or decades, you can do in a very short period of time.

So how does this all make a team or organization more effective?

You treat the people closest in your lives much differently than the people you either have neutral feelings for or dislike.

Think about the people you work with that you like versus ones you dislike or have neutral feelings about. How do you engage with them? Do you care equally about their success? Are you more willing to people you like or people you dislike?

If you can create a team and/organization with people that like each other (which doesn’t mean they are friends), you will radically increase performance.

Below are suggested activities you can use. They have worked very well for every size client from very small businesses to Fortune 100 companies.

1) Have every person bring a picture at the beginning of a weekly meeting. Give people 30 seconds to say why they picked the picture and what it means to them. You’ll see engagement and productivity rise immediately in the meeting.

There are several reasons why using picture is powerful:

  • Pictures evoke strong emotions in people and create instant connections. They create an instant boost of serotonin and oxytocin, which are connection-building hormones. Plus, that’s why Facebook and Instagram work – pictures!
  • They capture people’s attention (and there is less chance they get distracted versus just telling a story alone). We remember images much better than words. Research shows that people remember 60% of they see three days later. It is only 10% of words.
  • They evoke associations in people’s minds to things they have done, experienced or just heard about
  • Human beings are hardwired for visual stimulation. We’ve only had written communication for 3000+ years, and visual communication for 10x longer.
  • Photos work across all cultures and geographic boundaries. Words don’t. I’ve clients run this in Europe, Asia, and South America, and it’s been just as effective. It would be much harder to do this with words along because of language barriers and differences in languages.

1A) You can also do that by having people bring in three pictures: One of themselves as a kid, one of them with friends/family and one of them doing an activity they love. Here is a free website with royalty-free pictures that people could use as well.

2) Go around the room and answer one question in one minute. The leader needs to go first and they need to share something vulnerable. You can use my team building game, Cards Against Mundanity, to get the questions from. It’s based off a famous research study by Professor Arthur Aron where he got complete strangers to create the closest relationships in their lives in 45 minutes.

2A) Get a bowl and put it in a central location such as the kitchen. Put questions in the bowl. People can use them to ask people questions.

3) Have everyone go around the room and share the one-minute in his or her life they would relive over every other moment. Each person has one minute to share what that moment was and why it matters to them. It brings out the most important moments for people and has them sharing it with the team.

4) Everyone wants a fun exercise, so here is one for you: Airband or Hairband activity. You get team members to act out and “lip sync” their favorite song. Give them a week to prepare, and then have them perform it. Get creative with costumes, props, etc. At the end, have them share why they picked that song. Was it because of a specific experience or memory?

5) Memory wall exercise. People draw pictures or share photos of a meaningful and positive time/experience they have had at work. This activity gets people to share positive memories about the organization, and focus on the things that are going right.

Want a (free) team building activity that is proven, tested and will immediately increase performance, collaboration and problem-solving? Download “Cards Against Mundanity.” I’ve included two cards from the game below.

I’ve spent two years researching and testing this game in dozens of organizations from small businesses to the largest corporations to come up with an easy, quick and fun activity that gets people immediately operating at peak performance. You can watch my TEDx speech to learn more.

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