What is Your Role?

October 2, 2009
Two pairs of hands clasped together.

Just outside of Boston this week with a large group. The group was so large that we actually had to split it in two. One of my colleagues, Stephen Stoll, from the Institute came along to conduct one of the trainings.

It seems that crisis behavior never takes a rest and the need for our training grows and grows. Many of the participants in our group are from education. It seems like the behaviors that educators come across get more and more challenging each and every year. I can hear the frustration in the voices of teachers and others who work with students as they talk about having to spend more and more time on classroom behavior management and less time on teaching.

As I have stated repeatedly to groups all over the world, crisis intervention doesn’t take time, it saves time. It doesn’t cost money, it saves money. By intervening early and often and stressing the importance of prevention with our staff and faculty, we then spend less time and money. Crisis can be expensive on many levels if we let it.

Team intervention is also a way to save time. It takes less time to manage a crisis when we work with others sharing the responsibilities. One of the roles of a crisis response team leader is to direct and cue staff during the intervention. Telling our team members what to do during a crisis can be time consuming if we as team leaders explain what we would like them to do in great detail. It is possible to tell team members what to do by simply assigning them a role. For example….

During a crisis, a “gatekeeper” could be responsible for managing the flow of people in and out of the area where a situation is taking place. They can help remove audience, call for additional team members if necessary, direct the staff who shows up to the place they need to be, etc. It would be much less time consuming and certainly easier if the team leader could simply say, “John, please be the gatekeeper.”  Rather than explaining to him the aforementioned role description.

Documentation of critical incidence is mandatory in most facilities. The best time to document a crisis is while it is happening. It has to be done anyway and memories have a way of changing with the passing of time. If I can spare a team member to write down everything they see by assigning them the role of “secretary”, then I can get a more accurate reporting of the events while having the task done in a timely manner and not having to explain to this person what they need to do.

Obviously, roles, like job descriptions, need to be explained in advance to my crisis response team members. That way, when the team leader assigns the role to a staff member, they immediately know what to do and how to do it.

As a Certified Instructor in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®, you can work with your facility and team members to come up with a list of roles and descriptions of what the roles entail. Make this discussion part of an ongoing training process and give staff members the information they need to become a more productive part of your crisis response team.

I am asking readers of this blog to post comments on any roles and role descriptions they can think of that would apply to their workplace during a crisis moment. Let’s share our knowledge and efforts. What better way to truly work as a team in the field of human service?

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