Whenever a discussion about resilience comes up, apart from our immediate desire to start comparing (or listen to our boss in sufferance) with how much tougher it ‘used to be’ in practice – think Monty Python’s, Four Yorkshire-men – we also tend to view resilience as an individual trait. Individuals are encouraged to bounce back and reflect, with a growth mindset on what they have learnt from a setback. Individuals are encouraged to take time out, to breathe deeply, even to meditate.

There is nothing wrong with this individual approach, however, far less frequently is this same thought process centred on the team.  Despite the important role that internal practice relationships and networks play on our well-being, they are easily overlooked when it comes to changing the status of an individual team member’s state of mind.

it’s almost as if we are expected to show up in a team, already match fit.

The process of injecting resilience into someone usually involves a sentence with the word ‘purpose’ in it and if it’s a really contemporary approach, it’ll definitely include that person’s ‘why’. 

It’s like Simon Sinek has entered the water supply and as long as we know ‘why we show up, why we exist, why we even care’, like divine intervention, we’ll bounce right back.

I find this is one of those conversations that I have with Lincoln’s clients who are struggling with their circumstances that will either go really well – because I can string together an amazingly uplifting thought process that gets them out of their hole, or it goes terribly with me hanging up thinking I’ve just peddled some theoretical response to something that demanded from my client way more by way of practical and actionable steps.

Our sense of purpose or our why comes from our own, deeply personal set of experiences. That’s not to say that we can’t have a collective purpose – it just means that when we ‘connect’ in a meaningful way, your reason for existing aligns with mine. 

There is no doubt that we are at our best when we are connecting with others, in a meaningful way. 

This connection is so important to a discussion about an individual’s optimism, their capacity to re-set after a setback, their ability to remain focused on an important task or re-sit their surgical exams for the third time!  

The kinds of interactions that take place between people, affect people, deeply.

If we then extend this thinking about interactions between people, we quickly come to collaboration as a practical and actionable way to drive up individual resilience.

Collaboration is not only knowing your role and the things that you are expected to do within your role, but also understanding how your role plays into the effectiveness of others (think, The Skeleton Dance!).  Not only is this deeper level of understanding of roles and responsibilities the ticket out of the ‘storming’ phase for a team (Tuckman), but it also connects people to others in the team in a meaningful way – and that’s what we crave. According to MIT, this craving for connection stems from the same region of the brain that craves food!

So how can we, on a practical level, build in higher levels of collaboration within the team when the need for individual resilience has never been higher? 

Here’s 3 ways:

1. Constantly brief your team on the path forward through the pandemic (or simply the busy week). 

Reinterpret the government road map for the team so that they are not confused by its impact on them. If you don’t know what this conversation looks like, it’s incumbent on you to seek help from others – Lincoln Institute would be a good place to start! 

Have this as an agenda item at every team meeting – the path out of a pandemic lock-down is complicated and emotionally draining at a conscious and subconscious level. Face into it, name it and talk about it. 

2. Start having huddles at every change in the practice’s operational cycle.  

For me in practice that would be at the start of the day (rounds), at the end of the morning consults before booked procedures and again before afternoon consults. The huddle is 3 minutes, standing and designed to check-in with the team that all is well and reset any expectations about resourcing or timings.

As often as you feel you need, start each huddle with a quick energy check. Ask people to rate their energy level (1-10) – if I know that you’re a 2 and I’m a 9, at best I’ll be able to carry you along a bit and at worst, I’ll know that if you’re not your best self, not to take it personally.

3. Spend 1 hour per month ‘out’ of your role and walking or sitting alongside someone else in their role. 

If you’re the Practice Manager, spend time on reception. If you’re a kennel hand, spend time with a theatre nurse.  You’re not doing this in the hope that one day you might do their job. You’re doing this for the sole purpose of gaining insight into what their day looks like and how your job may affect theirs. If there is no seemingly obvious connection between two roles, you’re exposing team members to a broader sense of perspective for the practice, which on its own is helpful.

Like everything, collaboration has a shadow.

It is possible to over-collaborate. A constant need to be sharing or thinking about others in every single daily action is exhausting…  

Seeing the red dot on the team chat messaging app when it’s your day off – even if it’s just a friendly photo of your boss’s kids at the beach – may be triggering for some team members. It’s important to acknowledge this and find the right balance that works for you and your team.

Resilience is best found when we take the time to truly connect with a network of supporters. It’s the conversations between people that are validating, that enable you to feel authentic and that enable you to get back up when you fall over.

Best of luck.

Paul Ainsworth, 
Founder Lincoln Institute

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The Veterinary Industry Correction… How prepared are you?

Upcoming Live Event – Final Re-run 

Although we previously advised that your last chance to attend this virtual event this year was on 7 October, due to an overwhelming number of requests, we are repeating this event just one more time this year on Wednesday 10th November.

What’s it all about?

Global transformation is afoot. The most substantial adjustment to the veterinary business model is underway.

Unprecedented premature attrition of veterinarians and clinical support staff from veterinary practice has left a severe shortage of human resources.

Free online 1-day virtual and interactive event on 
Wednesday 10th November 2021 

We are limiting the group to just 50 participants as this is going to be highly interactive so please reserve your spot now to avoid missing out. 

This will be the fourth and final time we run this event this year. 

The previous three events were oversubscribed and we have received some very positive feedback that the topic was on point. So if you hoped to attend previously and missed out do jump in and register now as I’m sure the fourth and final event will also fill fast.

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