Trust to Improve Performance

Trust to Improve Performance

What’s the secret to improving your teams’ motivation and performance? You’ve probably asked yourself this plenty of times when measures that you’ve put in place haven’t been as effective as you’d hoped. You have great incentives in place for your team, you’ve streamlined your processes and procedures to make things as efficient as possible, but you’re still not getting their best.

Gallup conducted a 142 country study on the State of the Global Workplace, and found the following shocking statistics:

  • 60% of Australian employees are “not engaged” – meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organisational goals or outcomes.
  • 16% are “actively disengaged”, indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to co-workers.
  • Only 24% are “engaged”.


So how do you get your employees engaged, motivated and working hard? Something that you have to earn – trust.

Without trust, your team won’t be working to the best of their ability. If they can’t trust in their leaders, why should they put in more than the minimum amount of effort?

Author and professor of economic sciences, psychology, and management at Claremont Graduate University, Paul J. Zak, measured oxytocin levels and brain activity as people worked, over eight years. Oxytocin is the hormone that affects parts of our interaction and behaviours including trust. His research showed that trust within an organisation is absolutely vital to performance, and also that there are eight ways to quantify and boost trust within a workplace. Luckily for us, Zak made these into an acronym – OXYTOCIN – so it’s easy to remember.

Let’s take a look at what OXYTOCIN stands for 


Positive reinforcement (like rewards and recognition) has been shown to trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is linked to motivation and effort, so it’s important to recognise and reward your team for great performance because then they’ll want to continue working to that high standard. Nobody likes working hard without that effort being acknowledged.


Expectations need to be set and made clear, so employees know what they’re working towards. Make sure that your team knows they’re part of the big picture, and explain just how they are. When you get your team involved in the mission, knowing that they are directly influencing the success of that mission and your organisation boosts their motivation and commitment to meeting and excelling at their goals and your expectations.


Micromanaging gets you nowhere; as a leader you must be able to effectively make decisions and delegate tasks. Foster a safe environment of learning – mistakes aren’t the end of the world, just make sure to learn from them – and your team members will thrive when given more responsibility, and work more autonomously knowing they won’t be punished for mistakes. They will feel motivated and empowered from being trusted to do important tasks.


Transfer refers to enabling your team to ‘job-craft’ – make their job their own, and make their own decisions about how they define success.

Research undertaken by the University of Michigan showed that allowing employees to job-craft resulted in higher levels of job fulfilment and engagement. This means less staff turnover as well.


Being transparent and open with information relating to your organisation builds trust with your team because it shows that you’re being honest with them. You’d be surprised how much time and effort is taken up when your team is wondering what’s going on, so be sure to practice openness when communicating with your team.

Team members appreciate being told what’s going on, even if it’s not always good news since it gives them a chance to voice their opinions and give their input. When employees feel heard, they also feel valued and so want to return the favour and work harder.

We have launched our NEW Performance Team Coaching Program – find out more HERE! 


During his research, Zak saw a variety of studies that showed how important relationships (including friendships) are on retention, productivity, health and overall job satisfaction. Encourage relationship building amongst your team by providing plenty of team-building opportunities such as collaboration between departments, and making sure to reward great teamwork.

If your organisation isn’t getting across how important workplace relationships can be, then your team won’t be trying too hard to build their networks.


Invest in your team; provide them with training and opportunities for reward and advancement, and you’ll see a big improvement in their engagement. Your team will also trust you more, as they see how much you value them by choosing to invest in them. Feeling valued like this is a great motivator for employees to do their best.


The best leaders aren’t afraid to be vulnerable; being authentic and natural shows your employees that you’re human too and that they don’t have to be perfect because you aren’t either. When your team can relate to you, they’re inspired to be more open and honest as well. This allows them to ask for help sooner, instead of fearing being reprimanded, which means time isn’t wasted and work can be carried out more competently and efficiently.

Trust isn’t exactly something you can measure, but it’s a huge part of getting your team to consistently perform at their best. What Zak found from his research is that when you have people working for organisations that have an emphasis on trust, they are 76% more engaged, 50% more productive, and 50% more likely to stay in that organisation. You can’t argue with those results!

If you’re a leader who wants to step up your game and start encouraging a culture of trust in your workplace using resources backed by extensive research and with proven results, check out our Leadership Attitude Academy here, or book a coaching session here. 


3 Ways to Get a Great Mindset

3 Ways to Get a Great Mindset

It is mid year and how is your mindset? The year seems to be passing us by. I have been doing a lot of coaching focusing on ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts), and I wanted to share 3 helpful ways to get a great mindset with you! I use these tips myself, because even I have ANTs at times. I’m only human.

Here are some awesome tips for you to help turn your mindset around and set yourself up for success on those days where you’re just not feeling it –

1. Set your focus

Set the tone for the day, by sitting down first thing in the morning and asking what you want from the day and from yourself? Having a focus for the day will help you feel energised and motivated, ready to smash some goals!  

2. Say positive affirmations

You may feel a bit silly to start with, but there’s a reason so many people tout the benefits of positive affirmations – they really do work!

Use ‘I am’ phrases, e.g. I am strong, I am smart, I am worthy.

Before you know it, you’ll start believing your affirmations and feeling a lot better!

3. Think about your thinking

Take moments throughout the day to think about whether your thoughts are empowering or disempowering. Reflecting on these thoughts will help you identify the negative ones that don’t do any good, and you’ll you be able to start correcting these thoughts and making them positive. It’s hard to start this to begin with, so be patient with yourself.

Remember, we need to squash the ANTs; they stop us from reaching our full potential!


⭐️ Draw a Life Map and list out all your achievements and successes

⭐️ Write down key goals for yourself and what you can achieve today to take steps towards it

⭐️ You are the Director of your Mind. Only have award-winning thoughts on that stage

⭐️ Write down your ANT’s and laugh at them. I bet you can’t come up with any data to prove they are true

⭐️ Use I AM language. I am great! I am worthy! Watch your words – they have power

⭐️ Reach out to a confidant to tell them how you feel and ask for guidance or motivation

If you’re wanting to find out more about the importance of a great mindset, grab my books JUST ROCK IT! and Leadership Attitude (Nothing wrong with a little plug!) at

Now, get out there and ROCK your new mindset 🙂

Why not join Sonia’s Online Group Mentoring Program from ONLY $70 a month to inspire and accelerate your success. Join at


What is your brain doing to you?

What is your brain doing to you?

Did you miss your target? Perhaps you blew the presentation you so badly wanted to excel at. You’re saying to yourself, “I just couldn’t focus” or “My mind wasn’t in the game.”

You’re right. Your mind was not helping you but probably not in the way you mean.

You know we all have a conscious and a subconscious mind. Guess which one is in charge? Science tells us that up to 95% percent of our actions and decisions come from within the subconscious mind, not the conscious. Effectively, you don’t know what you’re doing!

Harry Carpenter says that “The subconscious mind contains the software for your involuntary functions, emotions, and habits.” He goes on to say “Your conscious mind sets limits for you. When you rid yourself of these limits, and let your subconscious mind take over, you can do things you thought impossible”.

Perhaps when your mind wasn’t in the game, it was trying to tell you something. You just need to learn to listen to what it says but if you stop and pay deliberate attention to your subconscious, you’ll find that nothing happens. How often do you remember that name on the tip of your tongue when you sit and think hard about it? It just doesn’t come to you, does it? Of course, later when we are doing something completely different, the name pops into mind.

Neuroscientists and researchers tell us that the best way to learn what is in our subconscious is not to pay it any attention. Instead of slaving over the presentation wondering if you have covered all the relevant points, go and do something else. Go feed the birds or spend time with your family.

Such activities are called distractors because they take the conscious mind off the job and turn it to something completely different, leaving the subconscious mind to make its presence known.

In an article in the Huffington Post, James Bursley says, “It’s possible that interspersing cognitive breaks throughout your day could give your brain time to unconsciously process all sorts of problems you’re facing.” He goes on to point to the Google workplace which comes complete with rock climbing walls and colourful lounge areas where team members are able to sit and chat.

Imagine how well this technique could be used within your organisation and your team. If change is not happening as quickly as it should, or if there is something going on that you can’t put your finger on, time out could be your answer. A different environment, a different focus and a non-work topic might be exactly what you need to distract team consciousness, and allow the important subconscious thoughts to percolate through.

Be aware that outsiders looking in will think you’re not working – that you’re wasting time. Don’t let that bother you. Just wait until they see what you and your team can achieve together, because the team that manages at both levels of the mind is the team that will be successful.

Using Brainpower in Marketing

Using Brainpower in Marketing

The best and the worst thing about Marketing is that evolves so fast. Today you are on the right track, tomorrow there is some new and better marketing tool to use and yours is already obsolete. However, the great news is that staying on top of the new methods and applying them in your ongoing marketing strategy will only help you perform better. In this light, a great marketing strategy your business is certain to benefit from is Neuromarketing – planning your campaign in such a way that it will appeal the targeted users’ brains in an irresistible way.

Not long ago, Entrepreneur posted a great Infographic on making impact directly to one’s brain. It gives you 12 facts about the brain and how you can orient your marketing in the right direction in order to influence. The most important points, however, are the following three:

  • A part of our brain is primitive and therefore susceptible to certain materials.
  • Colours can be used to provoke certain feelings and emotions in us.
  • The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.

Colour it appropriately.

Is it a coincidence that the blue colour, which is known to build trust in people, is the main colour of Facebook, the favicon colour for Google, Twitter and LinkedIn, the colour for hyperlinks, Microsoft Word’s icon and Outlook’s icon, and either the main or one of the most extensively used colours on the websites of 90% of the Australian banks? If using colours for specific purposes in your marketing campaign, however, have in mind that all of them bring up more than one association and some of them may have both positive and negative impact, depending on the individual. For example, green may be used to convey good taste, but it is also associated with envy, while red is usually associated with love, but many poisonous plants and animals exhibit this colour as a way of warning.

Tell me why.

In her ‘Xerox copy’ study, the Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer found that people will usually do what you want if you give them a reason. The interesting thing is that they will still do it even if your reason is silly. She performed the following demonstration: she tried to cut in front of a line for a copier by saying three different things. First she tried ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?’ In this situation, only 60% of the people asked allowed her to use the machine before them. Then she tried ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I am in a rush?’ and now those who allowed her to go before them were at 94%. Then she asked the same question, but substituted ‘I am in a rush’ with ‘I have to make some copies’. You don’t say! And still, she had a 93% positive response. So, next time you are planning your marketing campaign, just tell the people why they should choose you, your product or your company.

Use great pictures.

This one is really straightforward. According to the specialists, 90% of the data processed by our brains is visual and they process it 60,000 times faster than text. Moreover, it appears that if you add images to a particular text, your brain will be more inclined to process it. Of all images, the ones that affect us most are faces, because people have the instinct to recognise faces genetically set. So next time, just add more images and less text, you will be surprised at the results!

To sum up, Neuromarketing is a great tool that can certainly give some good results if you use it carefully. Everything from the colour of your logo to the faces of people used on your pages have impact on your target audience, so what you need to do is make sure they convey the same message – the right message. Good luck!

The science of morality and why trust is all in your head

The science of morality and why trust is all in your head

Paul J. Zak, author of The Moral Molecule and neuroeconomist at Claremont Graduate University, discovered that we all possess a trust molecule – a molecule that is affects our morals and judgements.

It is called Oxytocin and it is a hormone which helps us bond with people, and a neurotransmitter which carries signals within the brain.  You might have heard of it as a sort of love potion because whenever you hug someone the level of oxytocin in your body rises.

Zak found that the more oxytocin we have in our bodies, the more trust we experience and the more ‘moral’ are our choices.

Zak says “In our blood and in the brain, oxytocin appears to be the chemical elixir that creates bonds of trust not just in our intimate relationships but also in our business dealings, in politics and in society at large.”

His experiments showed that when our levels of oxytocin are raised we respond with generosity and consideration.  We experience feelings of empathy that directly affect our moral judgements.

Zak found that there are a couple of exceptions to the rule.  He found that 5% of people don’t release oxytocin.  He also found that testosterone can inhibit the production of the trust molecule, and that situations which cause stress to trigger the release of testosterone.

So what does all this have to do with you as leader?

Think about it.  How much better might your team be if everyone trusted each other and made choices that were best for the team rather than the individual?

All you need to do is to show your team members that you trust them.  When they feel trusted their levels of oxytocin rise, making them more responsive to you, more trustworthy and more likely to make the right choices.  You can imagine the effect it might have on a team when each member is giving signs of trust to each other.

Part of your leadership skills will also need to be directed to the management of difficult situations so that your team experiences only minimal levels of stress so nothing interferes with the release of oxytocin.

If you put in place policies which encourage and build trust you will find that your team is able to work better and produce better results.

How can you raise trust in your workplace?  We know that oxytocin levels rise when there is some form of physical contact but, other than a handshake or a pat on the back, that is not always appropriate in the workplace.  But something as simple as a smile, a thumbs up and praise for work well done makes people feel good about themselves and their performance.  That’s the oxytocin kicking in.

If you’d like to know more about trust and oxytocin have a listen to the TEDTalk given by Paul Zak.

Neuroscience of Sales

Neuroscience of Sales

Even if you could sell ice to an Eskimo why would you even want to?

Consumers and buyers are savvier about sales than they ever have been before, and many come to the negotiation table pre-primed and with their defences at the ready. Sadly, some have a real and perhaps justified fear of being ‘taken for a ride’ or sold something they really don’t need or want – ice for example.

These days you need more than the traditional sales techniques to overcome the pressure of competition, tight margins and conflicting financial priorities of your potential customers.

Simon Hazeldine, author of the book Neuro-Sell: How Neuroscience can power your sales success expands on this quote from Dr. Evian Gordon; “Everything you do in life is based on your brains determination to minimise danger or maximise reward.  Minimise danger, maximise reward is the organising principle of the brain.”

This drive can be simplified as ‘stay away’ from anything that causes pain or problems, and is the stronger of the two as it traditionally improves your chances of survival or as ‘towards reward’ being something that brings pleasure, makes you look or feel good and increases satisfaction or success.

Everyone wants to feel heard and their needs recognised, and this is particularly important in any sales communication. Your questions should have the aim of uncovering their issue or need and assessing the solution you can offer.  You goal is to clearly highlight for the customer how you can assist them towards reward or away from pain, and allow them to self-assess the personal as well as financial cost they are experiencing by not making the decision to ‘buy’.

Your sales ‘pitch’ and any promotional material also need to clearly articulate the powerful messages that will engage the brain to make a decision moving them closer to reward and towards your product or service.

Simon Hazeldine teaches that there are five stages in the sales process, which he refers to as ‘neuro-negotiating’, and 4 main types of buyer, each requiring a different approach to best identify their needs, build a sales relationship and ultimately close the sale.

He says, “Take a close look at your sales proposals and presentations.  Do they incorporate and harness these powerful motivating forces?  Do you clearly show your customer’s brain how it can “stay away” from pain and move “towards reward”?

Sales should never be about convincing the customer to buy something they don’t need; it should be focused on helping them decide what it is they do, getting them closer to their goals, reducing any loss or pain and increasing their rewards.

If your team is still working with the old fashioned approach where one style of selling suits all, you are probably missing out on many sales opportunities.  Change the way you approach sales and train your team to tap into the brains of their customers and take the consultative approach.  When you work with the brain (reward) and not against it (pain) the sales process will be much easier.