This is a new section which we’ve introduced in response to feedback from trainers and trainees about the challenges that they face when they go on work practice placements for the first time, working in agencies. But it’s also in response to a number of issues which more experienced practitioners have encountered when working in agencies and situations where they have colleagues.
One of the key ethical requirements is how do we create relationships and mutual respect and ensure that we have good working relationships with our colleagues. We don’t need to like someone to have a good working relationship, it helps but actually it’s based on some things that are more fundamental than that, and some of it is about how we treat each other fairly.
Avoid undermining how someone else might work with clients merely because it is different. What we need to remember is that very often when working in agencies you hear reports of how someone else has worked with a particular client and it’s often a very intense, personal perspective and there will be another version of what happened which you could discuss with the other practitioner concerned, but what would be inappropriate would be to comment to the client in a way which seems to undermine that work. The other key requirement in the Ethical Framework is that our communications with colleagues should be purposeful and respectful of our clients and consistent with whatever the confidentiality agreements are that we have made with our clients.
Q1: What are the types of things that can go wrong when working with colleagues?
Well there are plenty of examples of challenges that people face. So, you can have personal incompatibilities and clashes with personalities, there can be disagreements about the best ways of working with people and these can be legitimate areas of difference within a team. The other things that can go wrong are different understandings around how to manage client’s confidences or using the same terminology but meaning the different things, so, and that can be the basis of quite profound differences. So there are a number of things that can happen when working in teams that challenge us as practitioners and we need to think through how to manage that in a way that is likely to lead to mutual respect between colleagues and good working relationships.
Q2: What would be your top tips for getting things right and working ethically with colleagues and in teams?
I think being clear about client’s expectations, about how we will work with colleagues and what we will communicate or won’t communicate with our colleagues, particularly in routine situations. I think starting with the assumption that your colleagues have thought through as carefully as you have how to work with clients, they may have reached different conclusions, they will be different personalities from you so they may work in different ways, they may have differences in training which leads to differences, but don’t automatically assume that a difference indicates that something is wrong in the context of teams, differences are a resource that provide clients with greater choice but also enrich the collective knowledge and wisdom of the team.