Healing Toxic Teams in Healthcare

There are so many great tools and practices to improve healthcare efficiency and performance. But, what if your team hates working together?  Then it doesn’t matter what tool they’re using.

Bad workplace relationships will make any tool a nonstarter.

When relationship issues get in the way of teamwork, colleagues don’t communicate respectfully or effectively. “Don’t let the nurses take advantage of you.” “Those doctors over there are hard to work with.” “Don’t believe anything that Department tells you”. Examples are endless, but the theme is the same: a continuous cycle of mistrust, perpetuated myths, and an overall experience of being stuck.  The culture becomes toxic.  And, it tends to stay that way. 

Patients who witness this disrespect experience a lack of comfort and confidence in the services they receive. When teammates refuse to assist colleagues in the workplace “because it’s not my job”, critical tasks run the risk of being done ineffectively, poorly, or not at all. In organizations such as hospitals where small details can mean the difference between life and death, there is great risk when teams cannot communicate and will not work together. 

Toxic cultures don’t get better by trying to operationalize new team practices. They need a way to heal their old wounds, rally around shared values, and create a culture of cooperation. Otherwise, they have no hope of being able to effectively implement any improvements or efficiencies.  Team healing helps them let go of the past, build trust, and engage together with positive intent. 

Team healing isn’t easy, and it takes time. But the results are worth it: improved patient satisfaction and engagement scores, mitigated risk, greater trust, more effective communication, more efficient projects and better quality of life at work.  And, who wouldn’t want to be part of a team like that?

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