Trust defined asThe ability to rely upon others to be truthful and to do as they say, and to follow established rules, procedures and custom and practice.

Increasing Trust for Improved Performance Michael Cardus

  • Can a hierarchical organization with Manager / Subordinate relationships increase and attract trust?
  • Can individuals be free in a system like this?
  • Are justice, fairness, and equity false assumptions within hierarchies?
  • Isn’t authority the same as authoritarianism and autocracy; which repel trust for the sake of those in power?
  • Wouldn’t we all be more trusting if these organizations toppled we had NO MANAGEMENT / SUBORDINATE relationships and allowed individuals the ability to organize their own work, rewards, punishment, rules and procedures?

“Liberty and freedom are conditions of individuals living and working together in social systems that are organized to provide for the trust and justice required for effective interpersonal dealings. The achievement of liberty, freedom, trust and justice, therefore depends on the design of our social institutions.”  –Elliott Jaques

The workplace has the capacity to develop Attract or Repel Trust. Psychologically when aroused either mechanism in people readily takes over. They magnify and distort the reality that is separate from our perception and experience.

Trust Attracting vs Trust Repelling Organizations

Trust Attracting Organizations

Process heavily influenced by trust and acceptance

Trust Repelling  Organizations

Process heavily influenced by anxiety or fear.

Equal and felt fairness between personal capability to complete great work, current work and compensation.

Clearly defined accountability & authority in lateral & teamwork working relationships

Internal Mentoring & Development used for career advancement & to help people use their full working capacity

Employees well informed of the context of their work & future of the company

Recognition is given appropriately

Correct distance in knowledge, responsibility, competency between manager and employee.

Managers are seen as competent and are held accountable for the output of employees.

Managers are involved in adding value and increasing the ability to make decisions and use judgment of employees.

Clearly defined accountabilities and structures of how work gets done, who has authority to do what, and what processes should be used for the completion of work.

Openness of information, and what is happening within the organization.

Team working is people working with individual accountability & recognition for a shared purpose, working together with an accountable manager or project team leader

Unequal gap between personal capability to complete great work, current work and compensation.

Power bargaining over pay or phony bonus + incentive systems

Excessive bureaucracy and top heavy management structure (too many levels within the organization)

Absent or non-existent relationship of managers and employees.

– Employees often have no clear understanding of who their manager is.

– Employees often lack clear understanding of what their manager is accountable for.

Lack of honest sharing of information.

Instability in what is expected for great work and the path to achieve great work.

– Excessive “Reverse Peter Principal” abuse. Tasks delegated too low in the hierarchy; creating a scape-goat mentality of accountability.

Employees in the dark about what is likely to happen & why they are doing what they are doing

Under-recognition & Under-utilization of capability

– Empowerment as a phony gimmick

Accountability without equivalent authority




Which of the above sounds most like your workplace? If things were more on the ‘Trust Attracting’ side how would you know? How would your manager know? How would your peers know? How would you treat your workmates different once the Trust-Attraction increases?

What is your opinion on Hierarchies and Jaques idea that ‘liberty and freedom, trust’ stem from our social institutions?