Flawed Barrels 2: Indifference

“Management doesn’t give a hoot about what we think.”

This comment from a nurse on a cardiac unit of a Canadian rural hospital describes one dimension of indifference. This nurse had made suggestions for improving patient safety on her unit. Although she was not surprised that management did not promptly implement her ideas, she was disappointed that no one in management gave any evidence that they had heard her suggestion. Although she was not surprised that the hospital refused her request for hospital funding for a specialty credential, she was taken aback when her manager responded, “It’s not like you have to be a rock star to work on a specialty ward around here.”

Indifference towards people stands in direct opposition to core social motives of belonging, nurturance, and esteem. Indifference towards quality of service stands in direct opposition to a productive alignment of organizational values with individual professional values. Indifference disengages people from their work, their workgroup, and their workplace.

The primary message of indifference is that people do not matter.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if the others working here would act like they cared.”

The problem becomes more personal and more extensive when indifference pervades a workgroup’s culture. Our nurse began with a focus on management in general and her first line manager in particular, but evolved eventually to describe a disconnect with her colleagues.

The previous post on flawed barrels dealt with the active antipathy between cliques or factions within workgroup. Intense negative emotions are certainly to be avoided, but indifference does not provide a reasonable and workable alternative.

The CREW process leads workgroups through reflections on their core shared values as part of the overall process of improving workgroup resiliency.

What in your work matters deeply to you?

Who shares your passion?


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