Do you work in a high trust environment? - Veterinary Practice
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Do you work in a high trust environment?

Jayne Laycock reports on her pick-of-the- month webinar: a report from The Trust Conference 2013 by Anthony Chadwick, founder of The Webinar Vet and a dermatology referral consultant.

The variety of topics available is just one of many reasons why I enjoy participating within the weekly webinars organised by The Webinar Vet. There are some subjects I know that, without this service, I wouldn’t conceive booking as part of my on-going CPD, yet these are often the webinars that I enjoy the most.

Working in a high trust environment is exactly one of those subject areas, but I found this webinar so compelling I couldn’t resist letting you know some of what I learnt on the topic of trust.

Anthony Chadwick recently attended The Trust Conference 2013 and found it so inspirational he wanted to share some thoughts from the day. The conference included many speakers well known in the business world and highly successful in running their own multi-million pound companies.

The whole conference was based on the principle that if there is no trust in business, economic growth will inevitably slow down. Take the 2008 banking crisis as an example, the lack of trust within the banking system caused enormous damage to our economy.

Anthony believes that this principle can be scaled down to our practice environment where the existence of a lack of trust could be translated into low profits. If there is a lack of trust between staff and their leaders, morale is likely to be low and this will undoubtedly, if unknowingly, be transferred across to the clients who may not wish to visit your practice again.

The good news is, according to the keynote speaker of the conference, Stephen Covey, that “trust is a learnable competency and is the number one leadership competency needed today”.

A leader always needs to start with “trust” and by extending out trust, this will be reciprocated by both staff and clients. For example, Google trusts its staff to spend 20% of their time on anything of their choice which they believe would benefit Google. This is apparently how Google maps came about, an innovation I would now be lost without.

Another example, Zane’s Cycles, is a massive bicycle company within the USA which allows customers to take the bike of their choice for a test cycle. They don’t need to leave any form of ID or deposit, they just get to take off. This company rides on the back of this trust and is enormously successful and, unbelievably, loses only five bikes per year!

Stephen Covey believes there are 13 behaviours which need to be achieved to become a high trust leader and these behaviours fall into three categories: character, competence and interpersonal.


1. Talk straight. However awkward this may be, it is far better to be straight with people and deal with problems head on. If individuals aren’t confronted with our concerns, problems are never likely to be resolved.

2. Demonstrate respect. This takes little explanation, we all know if we are shown respect, the likelihood is we will give respect back.

3. Create transparency. Be open and transparent about what is going on.

4. Right wrongs. If mistakes have been made, these should be acknowledged and rectified with the people concerned.

5. Show loyalty. Be loyal to your members of staff and the people you work with. If somebody is being gossiped about behind his or her back, stand up for that person.


6. Deliver results. It is really important that if you take on a project, you do it well and,
even better, over-deliver on what has been planned.

7. Get better. Stay on top of change and always continue to learn and move forward.

8. Confront reality. If there is a problem that needs to be solved, there is little point sticking your head in the sand, reality needs to be confronted.

9. Clarify expectations. As busy vets it is easy to throw a list of instructions at people which may not be as clear as they need to be. Expectations need to be clearly explained and deadlines given if necessary.

10. Practice accountability. When things go wrong in the practice, hold yourself accountable first before blaming others. Take responsibility for results, good or bad.


11. Listen first. This can be difficult, but by listening to what others have to say, an enormous amount of respect is demonstrated towards that individual.

12. Keep commitments. Even as businesses grow and commitments become ever more difficult to fulfil, it is really important to honour any commitments that have been made.

13. Extend trust. If employees feel trusted, they are much more likely to work harder for the business and extend that trust back. Trust should also allow disagreement where members of staff are able to openly discuss their concerns.

Trust between businesses is also essential where partnerships and collaborations can help to really drive business forward. Take Waitrose as an example: during the downturn it would have been easy to lose suppliers or force them to reduce their prices. Instead, the company went into partnership with its suppliers, ensuring everyone was working together for the good of each individual business.

Anthony suggests there is no reason why this principle cannot be transferred across to veterinary practices where partnerships with dog groomers and pet shops could be considered.

Leader’s first job

Anthony ended this thought-provoking webinar by summarising the characteristics of a good leader. The first job of a leader is to inspire trust and the second is to extend trust. A bad leader will take the credit when things go well and blame the team when things go wrong.

Conversely, a good leader will reflect praise on the team when business is doing well and reflect on themselves and consider how they could do things differently when business takes a downturn.

The subject of trust is definitely a topic I would have labelled as management spiel and actively avoided in any form of CPD, but I found this webinar fascinating.

There were many more examples Anthony cited where trust can be used to the benefit of practice and I would highly recommend logging onto the webinar to have a listen at trustconference.

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