Whenever I work with three shifts of nurses, every shift seems to pit itself against the other. Each tries to prove they are the best. They give better care. They alone know what patients want. If there is a problem, it is automatically blamed on someone from another shift. We can hypothesize about why this phenomena happens. We can go on and on about the disastrous consequences of this behavior on patients, staff and the workplace as a whole. I’d rather take the time and energy to talk about how to fix it. Here are three suggestions to help you win the war between the shifts.
1. Focus on what you have in common instead of your differences:
You all went to nursing school.
You all took and passed the board exams.
You are all working at the same place.
You share the same goal of high quality care for your patients.
2. Consider how you would like to be treated:
If a garbage can is not emptied one day, do you want to hear about it? Probably not, only if it happens several days in a row.
If something goes wrong or doesn‘t get done, do you assume the best case scenario until you find out the facts or do you jump to conclusions like the employee in this story:
I overheard a staff member from the oncoming shift say about the prior shift I worked on, “What did they do all day, drink coffee and eat bonbons?” I let her know that I did not appreciate her comment. The other nurses and I had worked hard that day. She voiced a problem with something we had not done. I told her the best way to handle the issue was go to her supervisor rather than make snide remarks in the middle of the hallway.
3. Ask yourself: If someone had a problem with me, what would I like them to do?
a. Tell someone else? Now there are two people upset with you instead of one. Then they tell someone else. The more the story is told, the more it changes. Eventually, it becomes a tale far different than what actually happened. Now you have a whole group of people talking about you behind your back. What they are saying is usually not complimentary and often not true.
b. Avoid you? People stop talking when you approach them. They are keeping out of your way, but you don’t have a clue why. You imagine all kinds of reasons. That can drive you crazy.
c. Yell at you. Although that might be better than avoidance, it can be unpleasant. A screaming person is difficult, if not impossible to reason with. Not much is accomplished. I usually tell the person I won’t talk with them until they calm down.
Bottom line: We’re not on a soap opera. We don’t need all this drama. Can’t we all just get along?