Posted by: healingtheworkplace | April 2, 2009

Who Can We Trust in the Workplace?

Trust, or lack of it, continues to be an issue for many of us. During the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s there was a much higher degree of trust in the workplace. This was often referred to as the psychological contract of trust that existed between employers and employees.

Unfortunately, this trust was shattered in the decades that have passed since the 1970’s…

Trust has been shattered by individual and corporate greed, a focus on the short term (downsizing and moving business offshore), and the unethical behavior of people in positions of leadership.

As a result employees are less loyal overall. They are also less committed and less enthusiastic about their work which has a negative impact on productivity…which hurts us all.

It seems that not a month goes by without some scandle about Wall Street greed, unethical behavior and abuse. I think the latest insult to the public has been the acceptance of mega bonuses by senior employees in organizations that have received bailouts from the American government.

Not only do employees no longer trust their employers but much of the world has now lost trust in the American economic system. But this is not the topic of today’s blog post.

Today I want to share something that I just found on the www. I want to introduce you to the work of Jack R. Gibb who studied and wrote about trust during the latter half of the twentieth century.

In 1991 Mr. Gibb wrote, “Trust: A New Vision of Human Relationships for Business, Education, Family and Personal Living”. The entire book is available on-line and I found it to be a book of hope. The book is practical, inspirational and at the same time academic as it is based on years of research.

Jack was not only passionate about this topic but he was also a pioneer in that he was the first person in North America to research and write about a subject that touches so many people.

In 1991 trust-building was “unresearchable, unfundable and low on the priority list of most leaders”.

The book explores the many dimensions of trust: the psycholgical, the spiritual, the personal, and the interpersonal. The author provides theory, guidelines and tools for diagnosing the level of trust in teams.

Those of you wanting to increase trust in your organizations will want to read about High Quality Work Environments.

Gibb and his associates have developed a scale so that you can measure the level of trust in your workplace.

Why should we pay attention to this topic?

When trust is high people and systems function well. When trust is low and fear is high these systems break down.”

This applies to the workplace but it also applies to every other “people system” that we can imagine.

I mentioned the word hope earlier and I’d like to leave you with these words,

“The world and the people in it ARE trustworthy…the future is in us and it is bright.”    Jack R. Gibb




  1. I recently discovered that my boss in untrustworthy and unethical. It has demotivated me to the point that I am on-line researching the subject and trying to find ways to remotivate myself. Before my discovery I was highly productive; however now, I can hardly get out of bed. Thanks for this article. It lets me know that I am not crazy for being “hurt” by what happened to me on the job and my response (lack of motivation, lower productivity) is normal. Here’s a question: how do I get my motivation back? I feel robbed.


  2. Thanks for posting this. I was just looking for the online copy of Gibb’s book on trust, but I realized the site was down. Do you happen to know of another place I could find it?

    I look forward to reading more of your blog. “Healing the workplace” is also a passion of mine.

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