The Costs Of Low-Trust

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The Costs Of Low-Trust

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Have you measured the cost of trust in your organization? Many people believe trust matters, but are they consciously aware of the costs associated with low-trust?

Have a look

I’ve witnessed plenty of C-Suite executives and other workplace leaders ignore or misunderstand the value of organizational trust just long enough to discover that they must now find a new place to hang their hat. Often this is the result of failing to listen, or ignoring the critical warning signs of low-trust.

Trust might be considered to be an intangible asset and while not directly represented on the income statement low-trust certainly impacts the bottom line. Like the value of your brand, your reputation, or intellectual property trust might be hard to measure, but organizations that have significantly low levels of trust might want to think about how to improve.

I see it often in my profession. If you can’t see it, touch it, or pick it up and put it in a box, then it must not be real or it is certainly not something that we should be concerned about. This is often true with things like generational diversity issues, the human side of change management, and trust. I’ve met a few C-Suite folks who scoff at generational issues claiming that they aren’t real or that they’ve been the same for 100 years. This is absolutely not true because generational differences are not about age brackets or frameworks, they are about differing values and beliefs that are connected with people representing various frameworks that we categorize based on birth year.

Trust typically is not like a light switch where you either have it or you don’t, it exists more in stages ranging from low to high. Low-trust is not desirable and here are a few of the possible costs associated with low-trust:

  • tardiness
  • absenteeism
  • turnover
  • re-work
  • duplicate work
  • tarnished reputation
  • lost sales
  • lost clients
  • theft
  • fraud

Some of these may seem straight forward or others might seem to be a stretch, but denial of the existence of any of these can lead to higher costs in your organization. The warning signs of low-trust are typically easily spotted if you’re looking for them, but first you must believe that trust issues are real and that the failure to ensure a trusting environment will lead to much higher organizational costs.


We must also recognize a few things about high-trust. Just as low-trust may negatively impact the bottom-line, high-trust environments will do the opposite. In high-trust environments, teams communicate easily and effectively. They don’t have too much communication nor do they have too little. People aren’t afraid to communicate and they are not using communication for self-protection (C.Y.A.). Conversations with teams and delegation efforts are free-flowing and are automatic. Micromanagement is minimalized because managers and direct reports understand each other and the work that needs to be completed, most of all, they trust that the work will get finished on time, and with the highest quality.

If you don’t think trust matters ask a sky-diver about their parachute, a hospital patient about their anesthesiologist, or an ironworker on a skyscraper about their safety harness!


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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