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Buck Naked Vulnerability- Veterinary Team Trust Part I

May 10, 2017

The cornerstone to a successful veterinary team is trust. While attending the Uncharted Veterinary Conference the beginning of April, one veterinarian asked, “What is the one thing a team needs?” I answered, “To be trusted.”

Pat Lencioni states during his The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team video, “The first dysfunction of a team is the absence of trust. Most people think of trust as predictive trust, we can predict each other’s behavior. The kind of trust that makes a team great is vulnerability based trust. When human beings on a team genuinely say things to each other like ‘I don’t know the answer,’ ‘I need help,’ ‘ I think I really just messed this up,’ ‘You are much smarter than I am,’ and ‘I am sorry, what I said yesterday is inappropriate, I apologize,’ then they are trusting. When human beings can be that vulnerable, that buck naked if you will, that changes the dynamics of the team.”

The underlying issues or successes within a veterinary hospital (or any business for that matter) are directly related to the level of trust throughout the team.

  • Does the veterinarian trust the technician to follow through in the completion of an order at a high standard of care?
  • Does the practice owner trust the manager to hire the best team members?
  • Does the receptionist trust the assistant to properly fill a prescription?
  • Does the manager trust the team lead to properly hold team members accountable to the standard of care for the pet and client?

Can you see how trust can make or break a veterinary team or business? Trust is crucial to success in ALL relationships. Does your client trust your veterinary team to provide the best quality care and medicine each and every time?

Last summer I read a great book, The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey. What an AWESOME book! It was through the pages that I learned trust impacts everything! This is definitely true for veterinary medicine and yet we rarely talk about trust because it seems intangible. I learned trust IS tangible. I feel veterinary teams can relate and improve upon the speed of trust, then dive into the buck naked trust (getting vulnerable with each other).

Trust is directly correlated to speed and cost.

“The economics of trust simply states that trust always affects two measurable outcomes: speed and cost. When trust goes down, speed will also go down while cost will go up. This is a tax. When trust goes up, speed will also go up while cost will come down. This is a dividend. Nothing is as profitable as the economics of trust.” From The Speed of Trust by Steve Covey.

Consider the previous questions of a veterinary team trusting each other. Consider when there is little trust, tasks simply take longer. A manager will feel the need to check on the quality of a task. A veterinarian feels that he must check on the care a technician has provided. An owner feels all medical records must be scrutinized before published. All this takes added time in the absence of trust, adding to the direct cost of the service.

Now, consider being buck naked vulnerable. This is feeling that your team is trusting enough for a team member to simply ask “I need help.” Or when a mistake has happened (and mistakes DO happen!) the team member confesses right away, “I really just messed up. How will we fix this?” Instead of being fearful of repercussions and never bringing the mistake to light…because I know that happens as well.

Take a close look and be really truthful and honest with yourself about your team. Do you trust each other to simply ask for help or ask a medical question? Do you honor and respect each other to consider what is best for the pet and pet owner? Can you put aside your ego and do what is right when a mistake happens? Not easy questions.

On a lighter note, veterinary team trust can be measured and elevated. And that, my friend, will be discussed in Veterinary Team Trust Part II, in next week’s Blog. CLIFFHANGER!

Yours in Veterinary Team Development,

Rebecca Rose, CVT