The Speed of Trust

This is not a book review.

The Speed of Trust is a superbly TITLED book.

The writing itself was a bit too predictable, formulaic, and fluffy for my personal tastes.  I understand FranklinCovey is having success teaching its principles and I don’t mean to disparage the concepts or ideas expressed at all.  Just the opposite.  I believe deeply in what the title of the book, Speed of Trust, means to relationships and organizations.

Think about it in your own life.  I recently did.  Check out the quick back and forth between me and my wife about choosing a family photo to purchase from a recent family photo shoot.  Start from the bottom.

Thoughts?

Here’s how I see this exchange, through the speed of trust lens:

  • Even in the mundane communication(s), love is expressed, setting a positive, supportive, sincere tone.
  • My reply was honest and I thought it would be fun to have the kids ‘vote.’
  • Her response was SPEEEEEDY.  Cut to the chase.  No fluff.  No framing.  No setting the table.  No positioning statements.  Just her true, actual opinion.
How valuable, how precious to an organization or team or relationship to have true, actual, authentic, unfiltered, un-sugar-coated opinions and dialogue?!
If our relationship lacked trust, her response would’ve been very different.  And it would’ve been longer.  Maybe a little something like this …

You know, I really like the idea of printing them out.  I wish I could figure out how to do that myself.  Would you be able to do that for me this evening?  I wish I was as good with computers as you are [read: flattery leading up to a soft disapproval of your opinion to soften the blow] …. as far as the kids voting goes.  I love the idea.  On the one hand it could be really fun to see the differences in how they see the family.  On the other hand it might not turn out exactly as you/we might think/hope it would.  What do you think?  I could possibly see Caleb choosing the opposite of Madi just to be different.  You know what I mean?  I don’t know.  Maybe we can talk about it more tonight before dinner when you get home.  Maybe we could limit it or make it a blind test somehow so they don’t know which one they’re picking.  I don’t know.  You know?  I’d hate to see something that’s a positive possibly turn into a negative.  But, I love the idea of printing them out.  Can you do that for me from work or do you have to be home for that?  Thanks!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox 

Now multiply the difference in the authenticity and speed of the response by the number of times you communicate as a team in department head meetings, in emails, in 1:1s and you come to realize just how critical it is to MAKE time to develop the trust as individuals and as a team.  A couple of books that I use and highly recommend to others (a lot less textbook feeling than Speed of Trust) are:

Leadership & Self-Deception (best for 1:1 relationship trust repairing/building)

5 Dysfunctions of a Team (best for team trust/dynamics issues)

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Working-the-floor hazards

In my first facility in Glendale, AZ, I was eager to prove myself as the best leader my staff had ever seen.  One problem with that was … that I wasn’t.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  In my AIT program (Administrator in Training) I learned as much as I could about the departments I was to oversee.  But, I failed to dive deep enough into the nooks and crannies of the facility which resulted in insecurity in me, the new leader, when it came to supervising department heads and holding them accountable and teaching them.

So, instead of investing in building a relationship of trust with my department heads who could then, in turn, do the same with their staff, I felt much more comfortable working out on the floor with the line staff.  I would show how much I cared for them and the residents by staying out of my office and walking around.  I would be visible.  I would get to know everyone by name.  I would get to know their lives.  It didn’t occur to me at the time but my department heads resented my behavior.  I’m saying they resented me being visible and out of my office.  We all should do that.  The ED who’s stuck in his office all day becomes out of touch, ineffective, and won’t be employed very long.

BUT … what they resented was that I was spending the necessary time to hold them accountable, invest in our relationship, and help them succeed.  Some of them felt like I was ‘going over their head’ or ‘undermining’ them.  What I learned, the hard way, was that when the ‘line staff’ feel so comfortable with you/me as the administrator, that can threaten their direct supervisor’s relationship with them.  And, their supervisor (your department head) feels it and trusts you less.

It happened to me.  Don’t let it happen to you.

Of course we should know everyone by name.  We should have an open door.  But, we should direct them to talk to their supervisors first before rushing in to solve problems.  And, we should make time, at least once a week, to have a meaningful status review with each department head.  That tweak to my management approach made a huge difference in my effectiveness and results in my next two facilities.

Administrator-Director of Nursing Diagnostics

During the last couple years I’ve visited with over 50 nursing home administrators and their department head teams to assist them
  1. Define their facility culture,
  2. Implement world class service practices,
  3. Strengthen their teams, and/or
  4. Improve their marketing efforts
I’ve had the pleasure of working with leaders at facilities everywhere across the spectrum of performance (from beginning of turnaround to market leaders).  While I find my work fulfilling and important, I’ve concluded that those numbered areas of focus above are SECONDARY to the area in the facility that is really the FOUNDATION of everything is the relationship between Administrator and Director of Nursing.  In fact, as I look back at most struggling situations (clinical, regulatory, financial) the vast majority of them involve a weak, strained, or dysfunctional ED-DNS ‘partnership.’
The opposite is also true!  Where there is a strong, trusting, caring relationship between the administrator and the DNS, real transformation can take place – given competent, inspired leaders.
All efforts toward cultural change, implementing higher standards, or improving the facility must come AFTER the ED-DNS relationship is solid.  Otherwise, the initiatives will be planted on a weak foundation and will fall by the wayside after a few months.  Unless there is a unified front where the ED-DNS are on the same page and are authentically committed to the initiative regardless of what it is, no change will be lasting.
In healthcare we rely on DIAGNOSTICS to identify the problem.
Diagnostics
Diagnostics
I’ve developed a cultural diagnostic tool for administrators and directors of nursing to assess how strong their relationship is.  Scoring themselves on a series of statements will not only give them a grand total but it serves as a powerful basis for conversation as the two most important facility leaders take steps toward that optimal ED-DNS relationship of trust.
A sample of the statements to be scored:
(Scoring:  3 = Always         2 = Sometimes          1 = Rarely)
  • We run decisions for hiring, firing, and discipline by each other regardless of position. We give each other a ‘heads up’ so there are no surprises.
  • Our loyalty to each other is greater than our loyalty to anyone else in the facility.
  • We leave meetings/conversations confident that we are both completely committed to the decisions that we agreed on, even if there was initial disagreement.

You get the idea.

We often wonder why bright ideas, great programs, change initiatives fail after 2 or 3 months in the facility.  This is why.  No matter how brilliant the program/system, if the ‘top’ is not first committed to each other and second committed to the brilliant program/system, it is destined to fail.  Get this relationship right.  You get the change (culture, clinical, etc.) you desire.

Of course, this assumes competent, inspiring administrators and directors of nursing to begin with.  More on how to find and retain those all-stars later …