QUESTION ONE: Does it matter if your employees trust you?
QUESTION TWO: How do you find out?
In my last article I talked about trust as the foundation for teamwork. Building trust takes time. Like a good relationship, trust on a team is never complete; it must be maintained and nurtured. And the degree to which your employees trust you, the dental leader, impacts the overall level of success of your practice.
I guarantee you that you will not get top performance out of any employee who does not trust you. If they don't trust you to make the best decisions AND trust you to look out for their best interests, your staff will feel that they have to do it themselves. The time they spend looking out for #1 erodes team cohesion, decreases productivity, and reduces the quality of patient care.
Let's face it. As the dental leader, your ability to influence your staff is measured by the trust they place in you. After all, leadership is the ability to get things done through others, and that is directly correlated with your performance. Employees watch you. You are the role model who sets the standard for office behavior.
Trust is not a right; it's a privilege that must be earned every day. Unfortunately trust earned over a period of years can be lost in a few seconds. A poor choice of words or a thoughtless act is all that it takes to lose trust.
The good news is that your staff doesn’t expect you to be perfect. In fact, most employees are very forgiving…if you show a sincere interest in their success. To earn your employees' trust:
- Recognize the things they do and voice appreciation publicly.
- Give feedback about mistakes privately.
- Show respect by practicing the golden rule – treat others as you would like to be treated.
- Match your actions to your words.
- When you are wrong, admit it. Say ‘I’m sorry’.
Be courageous and ask for feedback
Granted, it's not easy to solicit opinions about improving your performance. At the very least it’s uncomfortable because most of us are afraid or just don't want to hear what anyone else has to say. But that’s exactly what you need to do to find out if your employees trust you.
How you ask for feedback is just as important. What do you think your employees will feel if you say, “Do you trust me as a boss?”If they want to keep their job they probably will answer, “Of course” regardless if that’s the truth.
Rather than focusing on what you have done in the past, get ideas from your staff on what they want you to do to from this point forward. Specifically you could ask an employee, "What could I do to become a better boss?" (If you aren’t the dental leader, you could say to a co-worker, “What could I do to become a better team player?”). Research indicates that requesting feedback in this way still elicits 80 to 90 percent of what they would have said but instead it comes out in a positive way.
When you ask for feedback, really listen. Listen to the words and read between the lines. Pretend you're watching a movie with the sound off and be aware of facial expressions and physical gestures.
Say thank you…nothing more
Even if you disagree with what your employees tell you, the only response you should give is, “Thank you.” Don’t argue. Don’t explain. Just thank them and take notes.
Trust is the foundation for practice success. It is built and maintained by many small actions over time. As the dental leader, what you do is the cornerstone of that foundation. Lay the groundwork carefully for what you want your practice to be, now and in the future.
If you want to strengthen leadership and teamwork in your office, contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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