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April 1, 2018

How to Build a Culture of Trust

How to Build a Culture of Trust

Imagine a culture where:

*             Leadership was by example

*             Everyone worked together for the greater good

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

*             Open respectful communication was the standard

*             Gossip ceased to exist

*             Accountability was self-maintained

*             Honesty was the only policy

It may sound like a fantasy, but TRUST me… its real!” These are the results of a culture built on trust.

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 consistency!   Consistency of good reasons to trust based on significant past evidence and experiences.

Think of the people in your life that you confidently trust. Take a moment to reflect why you feel confident in trusting 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 trust can be rebuilt. It takes a sincere daily commitment to be transparent, consistent and realistic. An actionable and measurable process is to assess your every action, attitude and conversation by checking off the following list.

*             Am I being transparent

*             Am I being consistent

*             Am I being realistic

Breaking trust is seldom intentional. Many people break trust because they are people pleaser yes people. Their intent is good. Their results are not. They have OCD…Over Committers Disorder! They commit and commit and commit because they are nice people. They want others to like them so they don’t say no. OCD’s believe that by saying no they are letting a person down. Perhaps you know someone like this…could it be you? Yet the reality is by over committing we are letting everyone down including ourselves. I suggest utilizing a caring response to say no to over committing. For example: “Our relationship is so important to me. I would never want to let you or any of my previous commitments down. So I am going to say no because I can’t commit 100% to yes.” It is not necessary to explain why to the other person. Some people will continue to push hard even after they have been told no. A simple no thank you I am going to pass and end the conversation.

A team meeting is a great format to discuss trust in the practice. Discuss the benefits of having a culture of trust pertaining to patients and team. It is important for the entire team to understand how a low trust level affects the patient experience, practice culture and the bottom line. As a team assess the current level of trust in the practice. Define what builds and what breaks trust in the practice. Use a large easel pad and write down all the answers being shared by the team. I like the self-stick pads with individual pages that can stick to the wall.

Some examples of a low trust culture are:

*             Not keeping in the loop with details that pertain to them and the practice

*             Adding rules or steps for everyone to compensate for the inadequacies of a few

*             Extra staff to cover for lack of a accountability with a specific team member

*             Redundant systems and processes

A predominant sign of low trust with the leadership team is difficulty getting the team on board and willing to follow their lead. Imagine how much more productive a practice would be if the team confidently trusted leadership and each other?

Gossip is another sign of low trust that results from lack of transparency. If the leadership team does not keep the team in the loop they will talk to each other. Gossip that is made up from assumptions will run rampant.

Your team will no longer feel trusted and become frustrated when you make rules that affect the entire team to compensate for the inadequacies of few specific team members. You may even end up losing your good team members.

The next step at the meeting is to ask the team to share what they feel they need from each other (including leadership) to build trust. Some examples might be:

*             Be transparent by keeping in the loop

*             Be consistent with daily tasks

*             If you have a concern talk to the person

*             Help when you see help is needed

*             Ask for help when help is needed

*             Ask don’t assume

*             Take ownership – do what you say you will do when you say you will

*             Focus on the greater good instead of WIIFM (What’s in it for me)

*            Don’t gossip

*             Tell the truth and be compassionate

*             Don’t be late or absent for trivial reasons

Together as a team create your list of Trust Standards. 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 habits die hard; whenever someone’s behavior deems it necessary!

TA-DAH…you have just established Trust Standards to build the level of trust in your 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 patient experience, practice culture and the bottom line!

Contact Judy Kay today if you would like to learn more about how she can help you cultivate a culture of trust!

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