Before the conference, here’s your chance to take a deeper dive into the content that will be covered at REAL HR 2019.

Speaker: Jason Treu | Executive Coach, Jason Treu Executive Coaching
Session:How to Maximize Employee Engagement in Minutes by Skyrocketing Trust

Number One Ingredient for Great Teamwork

All the most celebrated teams have one thing in common: extremely high levels of trust that brings out the absolute best in each person. It enables teams and organizations to accomplish seemingly impossible feats together with teamwork.

Why? Trust is THE essential ingredient, lubricant, and glue that brings together an organization’s business strategy and people strategy. It’s the key to high performance and great teamwork.

I haven’t run into an organization that doesn’t tout teamwork as being important, but the words are usually just “lip service”, and teamwork is rarely prioritized. Typically, teamwork manifests into political infighting, functional silos and “echo chamber” thinking. That’s very far from away from creating a team-oriented environment based on a foundation of deep trust.

It’s almost as if believing and talking about it will make teamwork magically appear. Intentions don’t cut it here.

Why do they do this? Because they completely underestimate the power of teamwork and the effort it requires to build the requisite level of trust.

A tiny minority gets it like WD-40, SAS, HubSpot, Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Publix, Widen, Patagonia, and others. They are reaping huge rewards. I’ve seen SMBs and very small businesses that have figured it out too.

These organizations make trust building and teamwork company priorities, they create formal programs, measure it and embed it into the company culture.

Here’s why trust is the critical component of teamwork: The first two questions an employee asks themselves (consciously or unconsciously) when engaging with another individual or team are:

  1. Do I trust you or not?
  2. If I trust you, do I have “extreme trust” with you?

What’s Extreme Trust?
In May 2019 Harvard Business Review issue, a research study found that “team members who strongly agree (a 5 on a 1-5 point scale) that they trust their team leader are eight times more likely to be fully engaged as those who don’t.”

That’s extreme trust, a 5 out of 5.

A team member who merely agrees (4 on a 1-5 point scale) that he/she trusts her team leader shows roughly the same level of engagement as someone who actively distrusts their team leader.

Trusting someone isn’t enough. The “trust bar” is extremely high, and It’s tough to reach.

Distrust is a Major Anchor on the Balance Sheet
If an employee can’t answer yes to both of the above trust questions, typically underperformance, miscommunications, misunderstandings, conflicts and other challenges arise. Teamwork is broken.

These are “hard costs” associated with this:

  • Research shows that miscommunications and misunderstandings cost anywhere from $4,200 and up per year, per employee.
  • Through my conflict resolution work, I find that a high performing team of five individually wastes anywhere from 200 to 275 hours per month due to poor teamwork.

That’s massive drain on any organization no matter it’s size.

How Do We Build Extreme Trust Quickly
Trust develops very, very slowly if it’s driven organically. It takes the average person 200+ hours of working with an individual to form a close, trusted working relationship. That amount of time could take many years.

In today’s agile workplace, no one has that time. And spending that amount of time doesn’t guarantee a close working relationship.

How can you break the trust curve and consistently build deep working relationships quickly?

THE fastest way is to vulnerably share personal experiences, values, heartbreaks, successes and much more in groups (not necessarily 1:1).

Professor Arthur Aron conducted a famous research study in 1997, where he got strangers together and had them ask each other 36 questions over 45 minutes. What happened was incredible. 30% of the participants rated the relationship with a stranger as the closest relationship in their life. He replicated the study dozens of times over the years with very similar results.

Extreme trust can be created in minutes. It doesn’t have to take years or decades. But individuals must be vulnerable, dig deep and share.

We’ve all built high degrees of trust with people in minutes. For example, haven’t you ever met someone for the first time and thought to yourself in five or ten minutes into the conversation, “I feel like I’ve known this person my whole life!”

You did that by sharing more and more with each back-and-forth exchange. You did what most people do in 20 or 30 interactions in one. Your willingness to be vulnerable was the key.

If we could do that on a consistent basis, we could build incredible work relationships and create great teamwork.

Here are a few “trust” lessons that we can learn from Professor Aron:

  • Words mean everything. For example, if we had a time machine and could go back to the person you love the most, and you could never tell that person you loved them. It would forever change your relationship (and not positively).
  • We connect to another human being, the deepest on an emotional level that requires you to share vulnerably. When we are vulnerable, it tells the other person, it’s safe to share with me.
  • We don’t know much about the people we spend the most time with. The bar is extremely low on our understanding of other peoples’ experiences, expectations, needs, heartbreaks, achievements and more. We are “starved” for belonging and connection.

After interviewing 1000+ leaders, managers and employees, and observing 80+ teams in Fortune and Fortune’s Top 10 Workplaces, here are the recommendations to build extreme trust and great teamwork:

  • Get leaders, managers, and employees to deeply trust by understanding each other (know their “pet peeves”, communication styles, etc.) and their experiences create unbreakable chemistry
  • Be comfortable to have tough conversations and provide very candid feedback
  • Foster a contribution mindset where people care about each other and the organization’s success
  • Create psychological safety so people can speak up, raise concerns and share accountability, which mitigates risk and maximizes innovation
  • Create “how-to-work-with-me” to understand how to communicate explicitly, collaborate, resolve conflicts, respectfully disagree with them and much more
  • Create team agreements and contracts on how to work with each person and rules for accountability
  • Promote curiosity to boost leaders and employee’s capabilities in self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and best practice skills, leadership and management development


“Trust is the one thing that changes everything.” – Stephen Covey

Teamwork begins by building trust.” – Patrick Lencioni


Jason Treu is a Chief People Officer and company culture expert expert. He provides programs, training and coaching to maximize employee engagement, build high performing teams and develop highly effective managers. He spent 15+ years in leadership positions working with Steve Jobs, Reed Hastings (CEO at Netflix), and Mark Cuban. He’s the best-selling author of Social Wealth, that’s sold more than 60,000 copies.

His 2017 TEDxWilmington talk focused on “How to Get CoWorkers to Like Each Other.” His employee engagement and culture building game Cards Against Mundanity is being used by more than 20000+ employees Amazon, Southwest Airlines, Ernst & Young, Google, Gillette, Microsoft, Oracle, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Worldwide Express, CareHere, Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA team), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Novartis, Merck, Intel, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and many SMBs. He has his law degree from Syracuse University.