Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Domino Theory

When I was working, I wrote a team building exercise called The Domino Theory. I figured, with so many departments working together in one facility, each staff member needed to be aware of the effect their work behaviour could have on their co-workers.

I had the title written across the head of a paper with a short and sweet explanation below. It went something like this:

The Domino Theory
How you do your job can have an effect on how others do theirs.
Are you a positive or negative influence?

I had one of those instamatic cameras (we are talking a number of years ago, remember) and would take a picture when I saw something that was causing a problem. I worked in a long term care facility with many departments, and staff working all hours.

Here’s one of the examples I remember.
Large food carts were sent up from the kitchen to the resident units, with extra small carts as needed. Everyone is on a schedule, nursing to deliver the meals, assist with feeding and return the trays to the cart. The dietary staff go back to the units to fetch the supposedly full carts back to the kitchen to clear the trays, and wash dishes, trays and carts for the next meal.

You could see the system start to fall apart when the dietary staff took the cart away before it was full, leaving the nursing staff to pile the food trays on the small carts, often in a precarious jumble.

Nursing staff would have to return the small carts to the kitchen and they often just shoved them in the dish washing area, making the job of the dietary staff more difficult if trays fell off or the carts blocked the aisle.

It was my thinking that all of the staff were busy, and they might not be aware that something they were doing was making work life difficult for someone else. How did that one nurse on the third floor know the dinner trays she’d stacked unevenly on the top of the cart would fall off and make a mess in the kitchen? Common sense you might say, but things get rushed and we all need a reminder of why we are to do things a certain way. But now we have an irritated dietary staff, late getting their job done because they had a spill to clean up.

I hoped that by posting a picture of the not quite full large carts, and the overloaded small carts, with no blame, no other comment but the Domino Theory, the workers from the different departments might have a better understanding of the concept of interdisciplinary team.

I hoped that after seeing the pictures and understanding the cause and effect of their actions, the dietary staff might wait for the cart to be loaded, or better yet, pick up and load a tray to help. And the nursing staff would make a better attempt to get the large carts loaded and be more careful how they loaded the small carts and where they placed them.

Every person needs to do their job to the best of their ability for the facility, company, whatever the workplace might be to run efficiently. It’s no different in an office environment. Workers need to submit reports and stats, so their manager can then make her reports to her supervisor. It’s all a team effort.

I guess, in a way, it comes down to that Golden Rule, treat others as you would like to be treated. And it doesn’t have to be a work place thing. Take my living situation. We all use a common laundry room. The expectation is that you leave the washers clean, and you empty the lint filter on the dryers. I’ve never had a problem, we’re a pretty considerate group here.

No comments: