Behind the Scenes | Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Three Big Questions on Building Dynamic Teams
We caught up with Rose Sexton RN, Northshore Gastroenterology, Nurse Manager Ridge Park Endoscopy Center, to discuss what it truly means to build dynamic teams in the field of gastroenterology.
Sexton, the chair of the SGNA Management SIG, kicks off a month of content related to the idea of Team Dynamics/Team Building on The Bottom Line.
What does it mean to build a “dynamic” team environment?
Sexton: I have always been an advocate for change. However, the majority of folks that I have had the privilege to manage are opposed to change. Medicine is a critical business. Mistakes can cost lives. Therefore, staff members feel more secure in an unchanging environment. What we know also is that medicine is an inexact science. The occurrence of change is inevitable and frequent. Dynamism by definition infers change. What I seek to do with our staff is to acquaint them to an environment of change where they can also feel secure. Staff members need to be a part of change decisions whenever possible. And if that isn't possible, then they need to have some choice in some small portion of the change. Even if it is allowing them to voice their opposition and their reservations in a non-punitive environment. That is important.
Talk about the importance of managing the relationship with physicians and engaging the staff.
Sexton: Nurses are wary of difficult physicians or difficult people in general. When you work day-to-day with someone and they don't look you in the eye and speak directly to you as they would to their car mechanic or their hairdresser, you definitely feel a lack of connection and often a feeling of disrespect. If a nurse is being critical of a physician's choices and makes disparaging remarks behind her back, then I refer back to the feeling that the nurse does not feel safe in following this particular doctor's orders. If a doctor snaps at the tech during a procedure and asks not to be paired with that particular tech in the future, then, again, it is a question of feeling safe and having trust in that tech.
The best way to counteract all of this is to have a well-trained staff in which everyone feels safe and trusted when they are working together. There will be some pairings that are smoother than others, but for the most part, education, preparation and drilling helps the entire staff to relax and do their jobs. Once everyone trusts one another, they can relax and talk naturally and socially when the opportunity presents itself. If there is a problem, it may be that certain roles are just not fitted to that particular person and they need to be reassessed and possibly reassigned. It happens.
What are the steps that need to be taken in order to develop and maintain a positive company culture on a daily basis?
Sexton: First, people need to feel safe at work. The culture has to support them in every way, from work practices and environment to peer pressure to lateral or vertical bullying to having an equal voice, people need to feel safe.
Second, it is in our nature to keep score. Especially here in the United States where we are competitive and individualistic. Try to keep things fair. People notice if they're the one who is always staying late or working the busy assignment.
Third, lifestyle perks on the job do not always have to mean that you have a stocked refrigerator full of juices and energy drinks or that you can bring your dog to work. Lifestyle perks can be getting the assignment that allows you to drop your child off at school twice a week. Or the manager comes in early to start the cases when he knows the regular person is going to be out late the night before. Little things can go a long way to minimize the impact that work has on one's lifestyle. And it helps that the manager knows the staff well enough to offer these small conveniences.
Finally, you need to keep everyone well informed and sooner, rather than later. This minimizes the chance of gossip leading to misinterpretation.