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What the Navy SEALs Can Teach Us About Earning Employee Trust

What the Navy SEALs Can Teach Us About Earning Employee Trust

| November 09, 2023

The author and inspirational speaker, Simon Sinek, worked with the Navy Seals when writing his new book, The Infinite Game. His findings are more than just an interesting read, they’re applicable in the private sector.

Simon wanted to know how the Navy selected who gets to join the elite SEAL Team 6. To answer that question, they showed him a graph of Trust vs Performance like in the picture below.

To measure performance they reviewed the individual's tactical and physical skills - hand to hand combat, marksmanship, endurance etc.

To measure trust they reviewed how they are viewed by their colleagues, superiors, peers and subordinates outside the battlefield - integrity, support for others, respect etc.

Or to quote Simon in one of his recent presentations "I may trust you with my life, but do I trust you with my money and my wife?"

After learning the above, how the selections are made might surprise you …

The two most obvious candidates are:

  • The best candidates are in the top right quadrant, high performance + high trust
  • The worst candidates are in the bottom left quadrant, low performance + low trust

After some standard trial and error in their selection process, they concluded that; candidates in the higher trust range that may have scored low(er) on performance, are more desirable over candidates in the low trust range, even if they scored high(er) on performance. This is due to the fact that performance can always be taught, trained and improved upon. Trust can only be earned and is a fundamental element for successful teamwork.

Findings show that trust amongst team members fosters the following:

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved morale
  • Greater achievement as a collective team rather than individuals
  • Reduced discussions and decision making as members trust the judgment and expertise of their colleagues

With trust being a very valuable commodity in an organization, how then can trust be fostered, earned and built upon in private industry?

Our data backed solution: robust and customizable employee benefits.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management and multiple other sources (all can be found below this article):   

The above clearly indicates that employee benefits are directly tied to employee loyalty, I.e. trust. But how do we meet the financial obligations of increasing employee benefits when we're experiencing market volatility, high interest rates and high rates of inflation?

We utilize a Payroll Tax Reduction Plan for our employees and our clients. A PTR plan does significantly more than just decrease payroll taxes for an employer, it also:

  • Increases employee retention/average tenure rates
  • Increases ROI on an employer's payroll expense/investment
  • Increases profit margins
  • Increases employee engagement
  • Reduces costs associated with health care
  • Reduces out of pocket medical costs for employees
  • Reduces the length of time job listings remain unfilled
  • Reduces costs associated with employee turnover
  • Reduces state taxes tied to employees' taxable wages

It addresses all the above by allowing employees to recapture tax dollars and apply them towards robust, and customizable benefits for them and their family. Being that these benefits are funded with recaptured tax dollars, the employees net, or "take-home," pay does not have to change and they have access to additional benefits such as, but not limited to:

  • Health coaches
  • Nutritionists
  • Financial coaches
  • Medical gap insurance
  • Life insurance;
    • term, whole life, and index universal life
  • Disability insurance; short and long term
  • Accident insurance
  • Hospital indemnity insurance
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Identity theft protection insurance

But most importantly, and to the point of this article, it helps to foster, build on and encourage what one of the most elite organizations in the world requires of it's team members... Trust.

Josh Lehmann is an Account Executive at Finance For Thought and can be reached through our website.