The trust fall is perhaps the greatest cliché of corporate retreats, right up there with firewalking and icebreakers. Still, a team that trusts each other really can be one of the greatest assets to any business. It's hard to manufacture, which makes it valuable. There are methods to help it along, though.
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Economists from the University of British Columbia, Princeton University, and France's Aix-Marseille University have just released a study looking into the relationship between competition and trust. It's not actually such a weird combination: "In competitive markets, employers unable to elicit such cooperative behavior are likely to be out-competed by those that are more successful in doing so," said co-author Patrick Francois in a press release. "Pro-social behavior from employees makes them more productive, which is good for business."
In short, unite employees against an outside factor, like their industry at large, and they'll most likely perform even better. This model doesn't have to be unhealthy either. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of London laid out an argument for a "social practice theory of relational competition," which emphasizes collaboration and reciprocity over scorched-earth mindsets.
There are other factors at play when it comes to trusting your teammates, but a lot of it stems from good company culture, especially when it comes to managing power and differences in power. If you're looking for a way to jumpstart employee cohesion, consider creating opportunities for them to rely on each other while working toward a common goal. It's a little more complicated than a trust fall, but in the end, you should get a similar result.