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October 1, 2013

The Cost of Trust

One of the biggest signs of low trust is when the leadership team has difficulty getting the team on board and excited to follow their lead.

Imagine a culture of trust where:

•             Leadership was by example

•             Everyone could rely on each other to work together for the greater good

•             Co-worker’s didn’t question each other’s intent

•             Open communication was the standard

•             Gossip ceased to exist

•             Accountability was self-maintained

•             Honesty was the only policy

Trust is the foundation of a happy, healthy, and high producing culture.   There is a cost to low trust! 

How much more productive would your practice be if your team truly trusted each other?

The dictionary defines trust as instinctive unquestioning belief in and reliance upon something.  The culture of trust I am suggesting is not one of blind faith but instead one of confidence!  Confident trust is based on good reasons, definite evidence or past experience.

 Think about the people in your life that you trust the most.  Why do you trust them?  Confident trust does not just happen overnight.  It takes time to nurture and grow.  However, breaking one’s trust can happen in a heartbeat.  The great news is that building trust is a skill set that can be learned.  Once we can learn how to build trust we can prevent trust breakdowns!

I would start by having a team meeting to talk about the level of trust in your practice.  Discuss the benefits of having a culture of trust.  It is also important for the entire team to understand how much a low level of trust affects the practice and the bottom line.  Such as having to add steps to compensate, extra staff to cover for lack of accountability, and redundant systems and processes.

 Let me give you an example of low trust with patients.  You may have some patients that no show or cancel last minute.  Therefore, you decide to implement the following protocol:  All patients must sign a form that states they will owe $ if they don’t show or cancel last minute unless it is an illness (with a doctor note) or death in the family.   The cost is that now all patients are subjected to a protocol that shows you no longer trust them and makes them feel unwelcome…which could ultimately destroy the relationship resulting in them leaving the practice.  It is an insult to your patients who are responsible and accountable and the ones who are not will just ignore it!  The same holds true with your team.  When you add extra steps for everyone to compensate for the inadequacies of the team members you can’t trust…you may end up losing your good team members.

The next step is to ask the team to share what they feel they need from each other to build trust.  Use a large easel pad and write down all the answers being shared by the team.  Cross out any duplicates.  

Some examples might be:

•             If you have an issue with me talk to me first

•             Help me when you see I need help

•             Finish what you say you are going to do

•             Focus on the greater good instead of WIIFY

•             Tell me the truth but be compassionate

•             Don’t be late or absent for trivial reasons

 Put your list together and label it Trust Culture Guidelines.  Next print it, frame it and put on display for future reference.  It will be important to review whenever you hire someone new or…because old habit die hard; whenever someone’s behavior deems it necessary!

Ta-dah…your team has just established their guidelines on how to build the level of trust in the practice!  The awesome part is that when people create it they own it!

The bottom line is that trust is not just a social virtue it greatly affects your bottom line!

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