Trinity Health Transformation
Triannual I
Triannual II
Triannual III

Building (or Re-Building) a Strong Foundation of Trust

Our big moment is finally here and we’ve opened the new campus! 

The Healthcare Campus & Medical District will be a huge gift to our community for generations to come and OUR leadership, hard work, tough decisions, and great ideas were poured into every step of the quest that got us to this point. 

We have SO much to celebrate as we look forward to this next phase of growth and evolution at Trinity Health. And, we’ve only just begun! 

This new campus is our fresh, new starting point for building a sustainable future at Trinity Health. It’s our reset point for recreating the patient and employee experience so that every individual who walks through the doors of our organization feels supported, well cared for, encouraged, and stronger as a result of our work.

We’ve done so much over the past year to build a strong foundation of good leadership practices, great communication skills, and personal resilience to carry us to this point, and yet, we still have many foundational practices we can continue to hone to succeed in our new space. 

Building (or re-building) trust is one of the key practices that will help us thrive in this new season. 

Experiencing such rapid and radical change is so exciting and wonderful, yet the pace of transition and the growing pains of launching this next phase can also create cracks in our foundation of trust and communication as a team. 

Because we’re operating in so many evolving and changing circumstances, what we used to be able to count on and expectations we previously held firm didn’t always stay constant. If we’ve always relied on a certain cadence of communication, a particular schedule or shift, or deliverables by a specific due date, the change and transition and the shake-up of the move may have thrown our regular habits and routines out of whack, unknowingly causing frustrations and eroding trust in the process. 

We may not have been able to depend on the same people to help us as they were pulled onto new committees and shouldered with new responsibilities to get us to the peak. And, we may not have been able to support the same people in the exact same ways we once supported them before the move. 

No matter where we’re starting, trust can continue to be strengthened, and even be re-built, to launch us strongly into our next season.

Psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud gives us five essential elements of building trust:

1) Understanding: One of the key elements of building trust is knowing the other person truly understands us. Dr. Cloud gives the example of a doctor who was exceptionally skilled in their field and comes in, tells Henry “you need a knee replacement, we’ll schedule it for Tuesday” but never attempted to get to know him as a patient or ask any deeper questions about Henry’s condition, pain, habits, or goals for the future.

Henry struggled to trust him because the doctor didn’t take the time to listen and hear what was most important to him. As leaders, we can work to practice “active listening” where we listen attentively, without pre-forming our response, reflecting back what we hear, and truly demonstrating that we “get” them. Through our disposition, words, and actions, we want to communicate that we care and are seeking to understand. Only once we’ve set that foundation can we begin to build trust and take the next step forward.

2) Intent: Our employees and patients need to know that we are FOR them. They need to know that we are committed to their ultimate success and have their highest good in mind. This is bigger than simply not being against them, we have to actively demonstrate that we’re not just in it for ourselves but really have a heart to serve. They need to know we’re looking out for what matters to them, we’re taking their needs into consideration, we’re open to their ideas, we want them to win, and we’re working actively to receive the best outcome for everyone.

The doctor who cultivated understanding through active listening and also seemed to have a deeper motive to achieve the best outcome for Henry’s future made a big impact on Henry and helped him develop a strong foundation of trust. He knew the doctor wasn’t going to just get him through the surgery as quick as possible, one of many in a stream of patients and one more bill to collect, but was on his team and committed to helping Henry restore his mobility and get back to playing golf and running after his grandkids. The doctor was a true partner on the road to achieving an outcome that would radically improve Henry’s life.

3) Ability: In order to put our trust in someone (or for them to begin to trust us) we must see demonstrated competence and capacity for the skill at hand. We know we can’t trust a toddler to drive us to work—they simply don’t have the skills, physical stature, or capacity to make that happen.

As Henry searched for his knee surgeon, he didn’t want a heart doctor that was doing his first orthopedic surgery ever just to give it a try! He wanted someone with the knowledge and skills and comfort level to perform the procedure with ease. Likewise, our team needs to know that we can take them where they need to go as their leader. They need to be able to lean on us to deliver a successful outcome.

4) Character: To gain trust, we must also demonstrate strong character. Not simply the baseline character of not lying, cheating, or stealing, but the right character and traits needed for the task at hand. In the right circumstance, we would need to trust a Navy SEAL to demonstrate courage, a nurse to demonstrate compassion, a business executive to demonstrate perseverance in the face of obstacles, an advisor to demonstrate objectivity and wisdom, and a leader to demonstrate calm in a crisis.

Henry needed his knee surgeon to have many of those traits – calm under pressure, empathy, perseverance, and patience through the long surgery. He needed the doctor to have the right make-up for getting through the surgery without panicking or giving up. We, too, must demonstrate the right kind of character needed for each context in order to gain trust. Think through your work as a leader – what situations are you in everyday and what character is most needed from you to help build trust with your patients and team?

5) Track Record: Finally, we also subconsciously look for a strong track record when deciding to build trust. We look back on what happened “last time.” In a similar situation, could we depend on this person to deliver the outcome we needed? Henry wouldn’t want to choose a doctor that had failed at the last 9/10 knee surgeries before him. He would want someone with a strong track record of success on this same surgery to know he was in good hands. 

This doesn’t mean that we need to be perfect 100% of the time, but those mistakes and missteps should be an anomaly and an obvious one-off to those around us. However, if those mistakes and missteps begin to become the norm, then that trust and confidence in our capacity can begin to erode. We can rebuild that confidence and improve our track record, though, one step at a time. If we’ve fallen out of our regular habit of excellence, we can begin that track record anew with each next right action. Eventually, our team will be able to see a new habit of success over the past several months or past year and begin to increase their confidence and trust in us once again. Having a strong plan of action to improve our skills and get back on track can help us deepen trust and regain what was lost.


Who do you trust and are you trustworthy?
Take some time this week to think about who you trust. What makes you confident they are worthy of your trust? What traits and characteristics do you see that inspire you to lean on them and let them lead?

Then, think about everyone entrusted to your care—patients, employees, your family. Are you demonstrating characteristics and behaviors that are helping them to trust you more deeply? Where can you improve and what exactly will you do?

Use this moment of reset to recommit to building a strong foundation of trust. This will be the bedrock of our culture in this new era of Trinity Health. We can actively cultivate these strong habits to make this next chapter our best one yet

MONTHLY REVIEW: Celebrating Wins!

Each month, our goal is to spend 1 hour of our 10% Secret time reviewing everything we’ve accomplished, setting plans and goals for the month ahead, and mapping out or big projects. This month, let’s take extra time to review the last several months (or years!) of planning and coordination that led up to the opening of the new campus. 

You all have accomplished so much and have pushed yourself to new levels, developed your skills as a leaders, and stretched your capacity to serve. In moments of great accomplishment we can be too quick to jump to the next to-do, stay caught up in the flurry, and never appreciate how much we’ve done to make it to this point. 

Let’s take a moment for a slow, victory lap to look back on everything we’ve done and who we’ve become in this process:  

1) What are all of the key projects you completed during this time? Were these above and beyond your regularly assigned responsibilities? What was your favorite element to each of these projects? Did you learn more about the type of work you love to do? 

2) Where did you grow as a leader during this transition? What skills have you been practicing? Were you always successful in implementing new habits or are you still learning how to lead in these areas?

3) What is the one thing you’ll take with you into this next season? What key skill, practice, or behavior will you be sure to keep as an essential part of your work and leadership going forward?

TRIANNUAL PLAYLIST: Keep the Excitement Alive

Keep the momentum and energy high by cranking the Triannual Playlist on your way to work, get a dance party going on your break, or play your favorite pump up song before the department meeting starts. 

Music is a powerful tool to take us right back to the feeling of enthusiasm and hope we’ve felt at each Triannual. Let these songs lift you higher and set the stage for another great day.

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