Wellness or Performance? How Managers Can Achieve Both by Building Trust

trust and productivity at work

As a manager, you may feel like you need to choose between your team’s wellness or hitting your targets. Trust is your ticket to boosting performance while taking care of your employees.

There’s a lot going on right now, and for managers, it can feel harder than ever to connect with your teams. While navigating new conversations, new work from home culture, and a whole lot of uncertainty, many managers are struggling to balance employee wellness needs with performance requirements.  

But instead of limiting to either/or thinking, we recommend reframing the question: How much do you trust your people, and how much do they trust you? If your employees know that you trust them to be strong performers, naturally curious, and autonomous, they will feel motivated to succeed while remaining mindful of their wellness. And if they trust you, you’ll be able to make difficult management decisions with less pushback and focus on your own wellness, too. 

Laying the Groundwork: Psychological Safety 

A big part of trust is knowing that your job is safe, your voice is heard, and your contributions are appreciated. These factors play into psychological safety, which is proven to improve both wellness and team performance. Medium recently published an article that featured a case study and some questions you can ask yourself to gauge psychological safety at work. Next time you’re in a meeting, take a minute to scan the room (or your screen, if you’re virtual) and think about how you can make your team feel more psychologically safe. 

Improving psychological safety at work can be difficult and often requires a cultural shift. Nicole Anderson, Director of People at Evans Consulting, explains: “A ‘whole person’ perspective is essential to addressing psychological safety. People are more than just the skills or experience they bring to the team. When we, as managers, set aside the urge to be in control of the plan and feeling that we need to have all the answers, we see a huge shift in engagement and performance. Doing this isn’t always easy. It requires an intentional move towards active listening, asking questions to fully understand (and removing biases), and allowing team members to take risks and speak with dissenting views. While challenging, these actions will reap large rewards, resulting in innovation, creativity, and high performance.” 

Tips for Creating a Healthy and High-Performing Team 

Once you establish that groundwork of psychological safety, there are many easy ways to show your team you care about their wellbeing without neglecting the bottom line: 

  • Flexible work schedules. These have become easier to implement with so many people working from home, and even more necessary as work and personal lives become entangled. Flexible schedules allow employees to work during the times that are best for them, which can have a substantial impact on their wellness and productivity. 
  • Check in with them personally at least once a week. Schedule a 30-minute (or even 15-minute) check-in once a week. Scheduling check-ins isn’t a sign of micromanaging, it’s a way of showing your people that you care. 
  • Set up virtual office hours. Your team can’t knock on your door anymore to ask a quick question or brainstorm an issue. Hosting virtual office hours is an easy way to provide accessibility in a casual environment. 
  • Manage for deliverables, not time. If your people are meeting their key performance indicators, focus on that instead of how they’re spending each minute of their day. 
  • Encourage your team to schedule “free time. Block off time for lunch, a walk, or a coffee break, and encourage your team to add “free time” blocks to their calendars. Zoom fatigue is real, and our “new normal” can feel exhausting, but taking breaks has a big impact. Showing your team that you’re taking care of your own wellness will make them feel more comfortable doing the same.  
  • Allow flexibility with their goals and the “above and beyond” work that you might have hoped from them. There are things that need to be done and things that would be nice to get done. Focus on the things that need to be done and have faith that your employees are managing their time as best they can. 

How Evans Has Experienced Success 

At Evans, we believe trusting employees is a win-win-win: 

  • Your employees can do what they need to focus on their wellness; 
  • They will be self-motivated to perform and creatively engage; and 
  • You, as a manager, can focus on your goals and your company’s overall corporate health instead of micromanaging your teams.  

As our company grows and our work continues to evolve, we have remained steady in our long-standing commitments to trust and psychological safety. These values shape our high performing teams and enable us to carry out our mission to co-create healthy organizations where everyone can thrive. 

Letting go of control can be hard, but it’s important to re-frame your mindset so your staff can succeed personally and professionally. Think about how you approach your teams and consider how trusting them can simultaneously benefit their wellness and propel your company towards a healthier, more efficient, and more innovative organization.