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Part II Buck Naked Vulnerability-Veterinary Team Trust

May 22, 2017

Your veterinary team, knowing that vulnerability builds veterinary team trust, may seek answers to their “stupid questions.” They will understand that not knowing all the answers is an act of being human. They will put aside their ego to ask the questions that best supports the pet and pet owner. Even with formal, in-hospital training, there will be times veterinary team members must ask “vulnerable” questions to provide the best pet care. That’s a GOOD THING!

Buck Naked Vulnerability Part I identified the underlying issues or successes in a small business are directly related to the level of trust throughout the team. Pat Lencioni declared, “When human beings can say things like ‘I don’t know the answer,’ or ‘I need help,’ then they are trusting. When human beings can be that vulnerable, that buck naked if you will, that changes the dynamics of the team.”

During in-hospital training sessions with veterinary teams, we ask the members to identify “3 top priorities” they have learned during the program.  I am no longer surprised to learn “seek help” is a common top priority (I used to be surprised!). “I need help” is a simple, yet often unused, statement that veterinary teams may benefit from stating more often.

Last week, while facilitating the Certificate Program in Professionalism in Phoenix, we spent a lot of time on the topic of trust. We identified what trust is, how it is created and how it’s torn apart.

When we began talking about how trust can be measured, I could see managers balking at the idea of “getting down and dirty” with their team. It appeared that measuring trust can be a high risk conversation. First, a team must identify how well they trust others on their team in order to measure improvements (this seems to be the brutal, honest conversation which can be conceived as high risk). If your team can step into a trust conversation, this is GREAT! If not, focus on building up the trust first with lower risk conversations.

One way to get the ball rolling and open up a safe place to build trust is to share a lower risk Blog such as Trust; Build Your Team On It.

When your team is ready, consider engaging in an exercise to measure and quantify trust. One option is to do an anonymous electronic survey (such as Survey Monkey) with a number scale and a place for comments. An example is:

Questions: On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being low/not at all, 10 being high/all the time):

  • How well do you trust your co-workers?
  • How well does the veterinary team demonstrate competency?
  • How often does the veterinary team act with integrity?
  • How well does the veterinary team demonstrate genuine care and concern for:
    • Team members
    • Clients
    • Patients
  • How often does the veterinary team complete projects?

In three months, after consciously focusing on improving trust, ask the same questions. Has the needle moved?

If the idea of trust and improving it feels complex, I would have to agree with you. It is a way to obtain self-awareness and teamwork using new techniques and seeing it in a new light. Rarely do teams talk about trust, but they want to be trusted and to be able to trust others on their team. Take the plunge, place trust on your team’s agenda and get the conversation started.

We would like to hear your feedback. Tell us about your team’s trust and experiences in improving it on the CATALYST Facebook Page.

Buck naked vulnerability is worth shooting for. When team members can ask “stupid questions,” “I need help,” and state “I just messed up,” then you know there is a high level of trust! It may seem counter intuitive, still, it’s spot on.

Yours in veterinary team trust,

Rebecca Rose, CVT