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Founded in 1950

Trinity was founded by a dedicated group of parents in 1950. It was originally a school for children with developmental disabilities.

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3,500 Children & Adults

Trinity serves more than 3,500 children and adults who have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities or mental health needs.

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31 Communities

Trinity has a presence in 31 Illinois communities in Will, Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Madison, Peoria, Jackson and St. Clair counties.

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  • by Art Dykstra

From My Pad to Yours

Top Management Relationships

The future of successful organizations will emanate from full partnerships among all relevant participants. Such partnerships are based on trust. Trust, in this context, consists of several elements: a concern for the whole, a willingness to share information, the freedom to speak up, credibility and the recognition of competence.

  1. A concern for the whole is vital to the establishment of trust. Each corporate member is aware that the organization comes first, before any individual program or department. To know that the other person will subordinate his or her needs for the greater good is a powerful motivation to do the same. On a practical level, it means that the program with only a few vacancies in the staffing plan refers potential employees to the program that has the most. It also means allowing a staff member to take a promotional opportunity in another department.

     

  2. A willingness to share information is another characteristic of organizational trust. The type of information can vary widely—the acknowledgment of problems, the status of the company’s books, or providing the reasons for the decisions being made. Is the information openly shared, allowing employees to feel that they are part of a larger body that works out problems and celebrates together? Or is it vigorously guarded, creating an environment characterized by fear and disengagement?

     

  3. Trust is also present when employees feel that they can speak up and disagree without fear of punishment. Some organizations actually have specially designated times when staff can address, “What’s wrong in the company? Or the department? What’s holding us back?” James J. Cribbin refers to these times as “barnacle-removing sessions.”

     

  4. In addition, trust develops through credibility. Is there congruence between words and actions? Does honesty characterize organizational practices? People are willing to trust those who tell the truth. An organizational maxim states that it is better to tell the truth and have employees angry than to tell a lie and have them hate you when they find out.

     

  5. Another important element of trust is the knowledge that one’s coworkers, boss and subordinates are competent to carry out their duties. Knowing that people can perform at the level required not only breeds confidence but also creates an environment in which risk-taking can occur.

As the CEO of Trinity Services, I am often away, representing the concerns of the organization. It can be a very time- and energy-consuming endeavor. I make these excursions without dis-ease because Trinity is managed through a leadership group, the Executive Committee. It has authority over the major programs and services offered. In addition, these group members have developed an Executive Committee Partnership Agreement that each person signs. The agreement outlines how they will do business together.

The Executive Committee meets weekly and an additional two times a month as the Partnership Committee. I attend the executive meetings but not the partnership meetings. In fact, I do not ask for reports or minutes from the group. In this forum, partners resolve differences and create common agendas, make recommendations and seek to maintain the purpose of the organization as a whole.

As I have shared this experience with other colleagues, it has not been uncommon to hear, “You can’t do that. They’ll end up talking about you and before you know it you’ll be out of a job.” Another frequent bit of advice from these same people is, “If you ever learn that one of your staff is talking to a board member, you need to jump him right away. The next thing you know he’ll be the CEO.”

While paranoia may be an occupational hazard of a leadership position, I do not believe that these individuals will conspire to steal my chair or organize some kind of fifth-column uprising. The reality is that if leaders at this level of the organization cannot be trusted or trust each other, how can one expect employees at the operational level to trust one another? This group is a corporate model for other teams; individuals must be free to meet and discuss important issues without suspicion.