Updated: Jun 5, 2022
In an emergency, there is a TEAM of people paged to respond. Not one team member is more valuable than another. Each member arrives and falls into the respective roles to best respond to the emergency. No matter the role for that case, each member must perform his or her job independently, while trusting that the other members of the team are doing the same--all of this in an effort to care for a patient in need.
In nearly every Cath and EP lab, there is a taboo…no one speaks of it, but everyone knows exists. I am talking about? The, “My profession is more valuable than yours!” attitudes and the, “Why did they hire YOU?” mentality.
When a new team member joins a team with this type of culture, two scenarios are likely to play out:
The group expects the new team member to be a seasoned and experienced professional.
If the new person is not up to standard, the team projects their frustrations by alienating the newbie and holding the manager accountable for a “bad hire.”
Truth be told, it takes a team with varying skills and personalities to create a successful team.
One of the most powerful TED Talks is Forget the Pecking Order at Work, by Margaret Heffernan. She maintains that strong teams and the best problem-solving occurs when not everyone in the room is of the same experience level or background.
So how can we change this culture that seems to be so common?
Through my experience, I have found the following exercise reveals the culture of a team:
1. YOU: Who are you?
Are you the team member who thinks you’re the most valuable?
Maybe you’re the leader who doesn’t understand why the “good ones” leave and those who don’t fit the culture, stay.
Maybe you go to work every day hoping, “Today will be the day they value me enough to teach me!” Don’t listen to your internal voice that may say, “What I have to say isn’t important.”
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2. LEADERS: Connect with each person in the lab. Ask, “In the last 30 days, has anyone bullied, punished, or embarrassed you, by words or actions…when you’ve shared information, provided patient safety, or operated equipment?” You may already know the answers. Understanding the culture of your team is the first step in becoming a transformational leader.
3. TEAM MEMBERS: Take time to recognize and acknowledge your team members… “Great Job!” or “Thanks for your help!” Also, talk to your manager about changes that could positively influence the culture of your team.
To give you an example, I once had a team member turn to me (after 10 months of working in parallel) and said, “You know more about hemodynamics than anybody I have ever met!” This small exchange opened the door to a new working relationship, strengthened by learning from one another and appreciation for each other’s experiences. In the end, this mutual respect built trust.
When our STEMI pager went off, we BOTH got paged. I knew he would be there, and he knew I would be, too!