Are we a Trust Attracting or Repelling Company?

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Managing with a focus on trust Mike Cardus Leadership


A medical office of 150 employees had grown rapidly.  In four years, their size, contracts, and income had tripled. The office grew from one location with quick communication and a start-up mentality to a sustainable organization with policies, procedures, processes, systems, compliance, and separation of management. The need for middle managers was a consistent struggle for everyone in the company. The company was noticing more discord between staff, management, and even suppliers.

This struggle was creating:
  • Decreased work quality and completion
  • Increased complaints from external customers and suppliers
  • Loss of public credibility which led to sales losses
  • Increased turnover


We knew, through consulting and coaching with this entire organization, that a solution was possible.

Examining the organization and their customers, we found:
  • They had a great product and sufficient talent
  • People found value in the services they offered
  • 83% of the employees wanted to stay and improve things

From a NOISE analysis, looking at the current state of the company we identified “Fear” as the main topic. In a meeting, I asked, “What would people in this company be doing when they were not fearful? How will we know that fear is no longer an obstacle to progress?

The response was Trust
  • Are we a company that attracts trust?
  • Do we trust employees? Vendors? Community partners?
  • Are employees trustworthy? Are managers trustworthy?
  • What does a high trust company look like?
  • How might we develop a company that attracts and promotes trust and respect?

We started to focus internally on the medical office staff. We sought responses from all 150 employees and aggregated responses for the following analysis.

What is the behavior of a trustworthy employee?

We came up with two lists, one describing the trustworthy employee, and another describing the untrustworthy employee.

Trustworthy Employee Untrustworthy Employee
  • Responsible adult
  • Desires to contribute ideas, energy, and effort into their work
  • Desires to do their best work
  • Cares about the company, co-workers, and community.
  • Wants to see the company, co-workers, and community succeed
  • Follows through on commitments
  • If they can’t follow through on commitments, they inform others
  • Takes advantage of the company, coworkers, and others
  • Completes only the bare minimum
  • Passionless about the work
  • Watches enjoy when others fail
  • Overtly apathetic to most things
  • Feels that management “owes” them something
  • Fails to follow through on commitments
  • Blames others for their direct failure to follow through on commitments


Now that we had a list, the management team and I tried to estimate how many of the current employees fit the Trustworthy List and how many fit the Untrustworthy List. This was no easy task, however, they happily found that close to 95% of the people matched the Trustworthy List.

The management team then took a look at the company culture, and management behavior, asking some tough questions, including:

  1. Who are the policies and procedures written for? The 5%
  2. Who is the focus of much of their organizational change efforts? The 5%
  3. Where is most energy being focused? The 5%
  4. Which employees leave the company? The 95%

We found that the first three questions served te 5%, while for the fourth question, the answer was the 95%.

Managing a company with a focus on untrustworthy people builds fear.

Guiding the team from the abstraction of data to day-to-day work we created an “Impact Project Team” to head a year-long process of policy revision, education, and learning.


  • 86% of the company’s policies and procedures were re-written to attract trust
  • The Impact Project Team changed members as needed to focus on increasing trust within the organization
  • The company went from five to three layers of management (keeping all employees and pay at current levels)
    • This led to more autonomy and visible trust
  • Within one year, the number of sick days and calls off decreased by 47%
  • Within 18 months, turnover decreased from 23% to 14%
  • The Medical Office contracted with three large HMO’s bringing in more business.
  • A re-evaluation of the employees showed work satisfaction and perception of trust increased at all levels.
What do you think?

How are your policy and procedures written? Are you creating a trust attracting company?