4 Steps to Building a Cohesive Healthcare Team Despite Your Selfish Brain

4 Steps to Building a Cohesive Healthcare Team Despite Your Selfish BrainIf you’ve been in the medical field for long you know just how important a cohesive team can be. It can make the difference between making it or breaking it in the healthcare industry and for good reason. Our patients depend on us to work well together. However, there are several obstacles we must face to build cohesion and one of them is selfishness. Let me explain.

A few months ago I was talking with a colleague who was complaining about work. In particular, she was complaining about the PEOPLE she worked with. Basically, she said they were lazy, incompetent, negative, and made her life a living hell.  As I listened to her complain, I couldn’t help but think that maybe she also played a role in the problem. If she spent 10 minutes complaining about them in a coffee shop with me, how is she communicating with them at work? Is she also negative, lazy, and making THEIR lives a living hell?

I know people. The more time you spend praising and saying good things about others, the more they tend to step up and do the same for you and the team.

Likewise, the more time you criticize, complain, and say bad things, the more they tend to validate your opinion that they’re “bad”.

Perhaps the key to fixing her “problem” was for her to stop complaining about how bad her coworkers were and find opportunities to find the good by building relationships with them. To do that, she needed to shift her focus.

Your Selfish Brain

Let’s face it. Human beings are myopic. We see the world through a selfish lens, which can distort reality. However, it’s not our fault – it’s a survival thing.  Our brains were designed to focus on ourselves first. If not, we wouldn’t survive.  But, as we learn and grow our brains can adapt and learn to consciously make the shift away from me, me, me and onto others. The ability to do this – the ability to shift focus onto others, is the key to building relationships and creating a better work environment with your team.

Humans Need Connections

The #1 most desired human emotion is to feel connected to other humans.  We are born as individuals but we survive and thrive in groups. A study of 20,000 people found that people who felt disconnected from their managers or co-workers were more likely to get sick, miss work or even suffer a heart attack!!!

Relationships are composed of micro-moments of connections with other people. Positive emotions compound quickly, but so do negative ones.  The key is to maintain and grow positive connections with EVERYONE on your team.

A review of 148 studies showed that people with strong social relationships are 50% less likely to die prematurely and committing to a life partner can ADD three years onto your life.

People and the relationships you have with them matter, but how do we build them?

Step 1: Show Gratitude

Everyone has a job to do, but it’s so nice when someone thanks you for “doing your job”.  Thank the nursing assistant for bathing your patient. Thank the physical therapist for walking your patient or for getting him or her out of bed. Be sincere with your appreciation and be sure to be specific with your gratitude.

Step 2:  Offer Help

When you have a couple of extra minutes, offer to help your co-workers do their jobs. Let the physical therapist know if he or she needs an extra hand to get a patient out of bed, he or she can come to you – even if it’s not your patient.  Ask your boss if there is anything you can do to support him or her.  Tell another nurse that you’ll watch his or her patients while he or she takes a break. Imagine how a nursing assistant would feel if you offered to help him or her bathe a patient – especially if that patient wasn’t yours!

Step 3:  Celebrate Each Other’s Successes

Everyone likes to be recognized in some way for the good things they do. Find opportunities to celebrate everything with your co-workers:  birthdays, degrees, awards, promotions – everything. Why not celebrate the fact that you managed to get through a difficult night? Celebrating can be giving a simple card, ordering out for pizza, bringing in a fruit salad, or just publicly recognizing someone’s accomplishments.

Step 4: Build Relationship Through Powerful Conversations

Every conversation you have with another co-worker is either building the relationship or tearing it down.  Here are a few scripts you can use to build relationships with others:

To a new grad:  “I’m going to do everything I can to help you succeed.”

To a student nurse: “I’m so glad you’re here. I will do everything I can to help you learn.”

To a nursing assistant:  “Let’s work together today to care for our patients. I can’t do it without you.”

To a therapist: “Please let me know what I can do to support your work today.”

To your boss:  “Having a good relationship with you is important to me. Please feel comfortable letting me know if there is anything I could do better.”

If you consistently show gratitude, help and celebrate your co-workers, they will show gratitude, help and celebrate you. It just takes one person to start building relationships. Before you know it, you will transform your work environment into one where YOU and OTHERS thrive.

So I gave that advice to my colleague. I said, instead of focusing on their faults, why not focus on their strengths. Instead of complaining about how lazy and incompetent they are, be a role model for competence and teamwork. Instead of creating a divide between her and the rest of her team, I suggested that she spend time getting to know them as human beings.

Ultimately, it’s about building relationships to create a better team and a better you! If you’d like to learn more ways you can build a happy and healthy workforce, click the banner below!

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About Renee Thompson

Dr. Renee Thompson is a keynote speaker, author and professional development/anti-bullying thought leader. Renee spends the majority of her time helping healthcare and academic organizations address and eliminate bullying behavior. To find out how you can bring Renee to YOUR organization or nursing event, visit www.healthyworkforceinstitute.com

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