New teams, new faces, new places?

It’s that time of year again. The sun is shining; the flowers are flowering – and, all across the UK, teams of doctors are in a state of flux. You may be fresh from university and taking up your first post. You may be moving to join a new team in a new location to start your next rotation. Or you may be settled in your role but surrounded by new faces. It’s an annual ritual and a challenging experience for all concerned. But the past couple of years have been unique in countless ways. So, will this August and the following months be a fresh start? Or will they be just another iteration of the cycle where age old problems are repeated?

The same old problems?

The normal stresses and strains for doctors have been dramatically amplified by the pandemic. Unfortunately, stresses and strains affect our moods, behaviours and our communication. Our behaviours and communications then have direct impact on the people around us. In any given year, you never have to look far to find the latest reports about bullying, toxic bickering or burnout in the medical professions. So, should we expect more of the same? Should we expect worse? Or do the changes to teams, faces and places create opportunity to break this cycle?

It’s worth pausing to consider a key message from Dame Clare Marx’s recent resignation letter from her post as Chair of the General Medical Council.

“When I look back on my career, I remember how I was treated. In my happiest moments, I felt respected, valued and listened to. I felt I belonged.

In a service short on time and short on resource, there is no excuse for being short on kindness and politeness. We are in control of how we treat each other. Our behaviours determine the success of our working relationships, with both colleagues and patients.”

Dame Clare Marx, Chair of the General Medical Council

The big question is, how to break free from the past and make this fresh start?

The solution?

As human beings, communication is at the heart of everything we do. Whether good or bad, it defines our social experience, our identity in the eyes of others and often makes the difference between success and failure. Good communication is also a fundamental ingredient for developing a successful team. So, we can’t afford to let it be taken for granted. Regularly taking a pause to reflect with fresh input is as essential for this skill as it is for any other clinical knowledge or abilities.

What are you doing to improve your team communication skills?

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director