In our opinion, there is a link between trust and social threats in teams. Trust plays a large role in psychologically safety and social threat. It can affect the five factors of David Rock’s SCARF model. We believe that by increasing their trustworthiness, individuals can improve their own social safety, and that of those around them.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Trust and Social Threats in Teams

two people speaking, perhaps improving Trust and reducing Social Threats in Teams
Trust helps people feel safe and work together well.

David Rock’s SCARF model is a helpful way to think about factors that affect an team’s culture, particularly social threats. In our view, there are large overlaps between trust and the five factors of the SCARF mode. As a reminder, these five factors are: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.

Specifically, we believe that the more trustworthy you are, the stronger your own SCARF factors are. We also think that by acting in a trustworthy way towards others, that you can improve their SCARF factors too.

Overall, we think that the more trustworthy you are:

  • The better and more secure you feel,
  • The better and more secure you help others feel,
  • There is less friction there is in your relationships,
  • The less energy is wasted by unhelpful emotions, and
  • The more productive everyone is.
  • In other words the more trust there is, the fewer social threats there are in teams.

In other words the more trust there is, the fewer social threats there are in teams.

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Being Trustworthy Improves your own SCARF Factors

A diagram showing how Trust and Social Threats in Teams are related

Being a trusted and trustworthy individual improves an individual’s relationships with those around them. This in turn leads to a range of benefits that help improve that individual’s sense of value, inclusions and, to some extent, wellbeing within their social group.

The impact that trust has can be thought of in relation to the five factors of the SCARF model. In the diagram to the right, we’ve explored how this may be the case.

These thoughts are not empirically supported in any way, they are just our own reflections on this content.

Being Trustworthy Improves the SCARF Factors of those you Work with

A diagram showing how Trust and Social Threats in Teams are related

Being a trusted and trustworthy not only improves your own SCARF factors. We believe it can also improve the SCARF factors of the people that you work with.

The impact that your trustworthiness has on those that you work with can be thought of in relation to the five factors identified in David Rock’s SCARF model. In the diagram to the right, we’ve explored how this may be the case.

These thoughts are not empirically supported in any way, they are just our own reflections on this content.

Learning More

As well learning about David Rock’s SCARF model more generally, you might want to read about improving SCARF factors in your team. Trust is another relevant topic, and these 10 simple things you can do to build trust may be helpful. Finally, self awareness and emotional intelligence are two more areas that might be worth reading about.

Your might also find our podcast on emotions and social pain in the world of work interesting:

The World of Work Project View

We think that trust has a large role to play in shaping social threats in teams. It also affects the psychological safety, cohesion and effectiveness of teams. Given this, we think most leaders should learn more about trust and how it affects their cultures

As we mention in many references to trust, we consider genuine trustworthiness to be a reflection of personal character. This means that to really become trustworthy may require an individual to assess and develop their character, not just their personality (see Character and Personality Ethics).

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This post is based on work from our experience of coaching and there are no specific references for it. David Rock’s work is obviously essential for the content relating to his SCARF model, and you can learn more about his work in the relevant posts specifically about that model.

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