A couple months into their CREW meetings, the people working on the hospital unit were surprised and appalled to hear two of their colleagues shouting at one another. They were right on the unit, by the nursing station, with a physician going through the charts, patients listening from their rooms, and visitors walking by. It was a low point in professional demeanor. It called for a response.
The response was to have an impromptu CREW meeting. One of the nurses called the facilitator who worked in another area of the hospital. The two participants of the altercation met with their colleagues. They had a brief, focused conversation about the issue that sparked the incident. They explored together alternative ways to deal with disagreements, even when you’re feeling angry or betrayed by the other person.
They not only brought the immediate incident under control, they laid down new ways of acting in the future.
From one perspective, a workgroup culture is almost ethereal. It’s a feeling in the air. You pick up on the culture simply by being around the group. The emotional tone is contagious.
From another perspective, a workgroup culture is concrete to the point of being mundane. The culture arises from the sum total of the encounters, big and small, that occur day in and day out on the unit.
Those encounters develop a consistent pattern. Through a process of reciprocity and of emotional contagion, team members develop consistent ways of behaving around one another. Meaningful and lasting change requires a group to lay down new patterns of behavior that reflect a more positive team culture.
Through participating in the CREW process this group had developed another tool to support team resilience. The capacity to call a meeting immediately that focused on relationship issue is a valuable resource. It permits a group to move directly to solutions without floundering in a period of anger and resentment.
These conversations build a sense of psychological safety. Their group is becoming a place where people can discuss tough issues and express disagreement while remaining confident of their colleagues’ support.
Psychological safety is a foundation of team resilience at work.