For a program as large and busy as LMP, it can be challenging for staff to find opportunities to meaningfully recognize their peers. With rotating shifts, altered schedules, and various absences – even those who put extra effort into saying thanks might not get the chance to.
The issue became a focus for LMP’s Pow-Lee Cheng and Ivana Vidovic, Core Laboratory charge technologists, and Jay Hockley, Specimen Management supervisor – who after attending last year’s Toronto General Hospital Goals and Objectives Retreat became inspired by the power of peer-to-peer recognition.
“We don’t say ‘thank you’ enough,” says Pow-Lee, “and we should. Recognizing your peers for even the small gestures they make can mean a big deal – even if it’s just an everyday task like putting paper in the printer.”
The proposed system for capturing peer recognition was inspired by another UHN unit, and consists of two components: a tree mural and an assortment of apple shaped sticky notes. When someone in the lab wants to recognize someone for a favor, an exceptional performance, or just a simple act of kindness they write a message on one of the notes and post it to the tree.
Not the complex system you’d expect from a modern clinical laboratory, but effective in allowing simple gestures to be formally recognized.
Pow Lee, Ivana and Jay brought the idea up at lab meetings to gauge interest and support, and then took a step back, leaving the initiative to be led by staff.
“We just planted the seed,” Pow Lee says, tongue-in-cheek.“ Once it was introduced, staff throughout the lab definitely made it their own.”
There were various levels of support including those skeptical of the significance of the messages, or the maturity of the apple/tree practice, but there were also those who took the challenge of encouraging peer recognition upon themselves. Core Laboratory technologists, Laura Schurman, Meriam Ghorbanian, Dipti Doshi, and Arti Patel were the latter, and became ambassadors of the initiative ultimately bringing the idea to life.
“There are times that we can feel as if we are running around like headless chickens trying to keep the lab running smoothly – and having someone notice and say something about our efforts is very encouraging,” says Laura. “I was happy to help with setting up the thank you tree, and felt that having a place in the lab used just to provide that acknowledgement could help make the lab environment more positive.”
Like an ordinary tree, it took some time before the core lab saw any significant growth, but now, after six months it’s proven to be a complete success.
“Staff have really engaged each other and embraced the tree!” says Pow Lee. “Being able to get that recognition and acknowledgement just makes people feel good. It’s definitely enhanced the relationships among co-workers in the lab and impacts how we come together to work as a team.”
The Core Lab’s peer recognition tree has now become a shining example of teamwork and comradery for LMP. What started off as a small staff initiative has grown program wide – with plans for 10 more trees, across five different sites.
So when the time comes – post an apple and see how your tree grows!
Check out TGH Core Lab’s apple tree in the photos below: