By: John Mehrmann

Share this article with coworkers in an email and enter your TOTAL SCORE in the Subject Line, ask for a reply to see how your score relates to others in your organization. Trust is a fundamental foundation for any relationship, business or personal. Without it, the relationship has defined limits and greater risk of gradual erosion or collapse. With Trust, the relationship is exponentially stronger than the sum of the individual contributors.

Score each of the categories on a scale of 1 (low confidence) to 10 (high confidence).

(1) Tolerance: Rate the level of security. How much concern is there about making a mistake? How familiar are you with the term "C.Y.A."?
(2) Confidence: Rate the level of confidence in taking reasonable and measured risks. How much confidence is there with a position or making a decision?
(3) Authority: Rate the level of personal control, the ability to make decisions that pertain to individual specific job responsibilities.
(4) Common Goals: Rate the level of awareness and aligned strategy.
(5) Empathy: Rate the level of compassion and understanding of individual personal objectives and motivation.
(6) Consistency: Rate the level of continuity in decisions, actions and communications.
(7) Integrity: Rate the level of integrity exhibited throughout the organization as exemplified by ethical decisions and actions.
(8) Selflessness: Rate the level of 'self-sacrifice' or parity with regards to activities between management and contributors.
(9) Ownership: Rate the level of personal individual responsibility for success, support of others, and dedication to the common good of the team.
(10) Communication: Rate the level of communication by quality, confidence and honesty (not necessarily the quantity).

Total Score ______ out of 100

How does your score compare with the other people in your organization?

Score 90-100:

A rich environment of trust and confidence that encourages mutual support for common goals. This is an organization that empowers individuals to contribute to shared rewards, as well as an opportunity to experience self-attainment. Individuals within this organization can develop personal talents and enjoy an atmosphere of continuous learning. Even if you feel that you are temporarily in the wrong position, apply your talents and develop your skills and your contributions will deliver lasting personal and professional rewards. The grass really is greener on your side of the fence.

Score 80-90:

This is exceptional. Be proud of your organization and the people around you that treat you like family. Your score indicates that you are honest with yourself, as we as with your coworkers. You have a healthy environment and are willing to acknowledge that there is always a little room for improvement. This is why you will continue to improve, and you will support others to achieve greater goals as well. Create a reminder for yourself to cherish and protect this environment. Some people only realize how good they had it after it is gone. Don't let that happen to you. Recognize, encourage and promote the trust within the organization, and share this experience with your customers and clients.

Score 70-80:

You are beating the odds. This score indicates that you have a foundation of trust, and that there may be some areas for improvement. Compare the different categories for areas of strength. Focus on actions or activities that will promote the areas of strength while you initiate communications to unravel the areas of concern. Sometimes the weak categories are related to specific events, misunderstandings, or possibly even specific individuals. Areas of weakness as illustrated by low scores may take time and planning to remove obstacles and develop trust.

Score 60-70:

There is risk of losing talented individuals. The talent that does not abandon ship will be underutilized and demoralized. The first step to creating an environment of trust is to be honest with yourself, then honest with your peers. Honesty does not mean confrontation with each other, but it may be necessary to confront some difficult topics with fierce and open communications. It will take conscientious effort to improve and sustain, but it is worth the investment of time and energy. Remember that the first step to becoming trusted is to allow yourself to be trusting.

Score Below 60:

The race is on to see who will leave first, typically the customers will be the first to go, and then the employees. Get help, this isn't funny anymore. The employees who stay will feel trapped, as personal perception becomes clouded to believe that there is nothing else better. The confident individuals will eventually recognize another opportunity and go to greener pastures. Loyalty, like trust, is a two way street. The bigger risk is that the individuals who flourish in this type of environment are satisfied with taking advantage of the organization, coworkers, and eventually even the customers.


The University of Chicago interviewed 800 Americans in 2002 and discovered that more than 80% had 'only some' or 'hardly any' confidence in the people running major corporations. More to the point, according to the results of the 2002 Golin-Harris survey, 69% of respondents agreed with the statement "I just don't know who to trust anymore". If there is a predominant lack of confidence based on lack of trust, imagine the competitive edge for any company that can offer an environment for individual contributors to flourish with confidence, security and unleashed creativity. Organizations that nurture a culture of trust have an advantage when it comes to hiring and retaining talent. The environment that is fostered inside the organization becomes brilliantly or blazingly apparent to customers, clients and competitors outside it.

Words of Wisdom

"It's troubling because a distrustful environment leads to expensive and sometime terminal problems. We hardly need reminding of the recent wave of scandals that shattered the public's faith in corporate leaders. And although you'll never see a financial statement with the line item labeled "distrust", the WorldCom fiasco underscores just how expensive broken trust can be."

- Robert F. Hurley, "The Decision to Trust"

"A person who trusts no one can't be trusted."

Jerome Blattner

"Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

About the Author:

John Mehrmann is a freelance author and President of Executive Blueprints Inc., an organization devoted to improving business practices and developing human capital. provides resource materials for trainers, sample Case Studies, educational articles and references to local affiliates for consulting and executive coaching. provides self-paced tutorials for personal development and tools for trainers. Presentation materials, reference guides and exercises are available for continuous development.

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