The Value of “Roof Tile Switching”

And how it boosts the positive impact you make in other people's life.


Marty de Jonge

2 years ago | 5 min read

In this age of COVID-19 and hospital admissions, a crisis nursing team is a great example to explain the value of roof tile switching. However, it applies to all human interactions that I know.

How do you, as a healthcare professional, guarantee an effective, safe and pleasant way of working together when switching hospital shifts in your crisis team? In fact, what can you do that not only will ensure that the personnel change runs correctly but also focus on adding value and pleasure to the daily life of people around you?

Last week, one of the Dutch healthcare professionals used the term ‘roof tile switch’ to describe the collaboration and shift transfer in her team. I think this is a beautiful comparison. Two different people who complement each other perfectly and serve the same purpose; the protection of what lies under the roof tiles. → The Patient.

Photo by Muara Ibrahim on Unsplash
Photo by Muara Ibrahim on Unsplash

The approach

What does it take to get the desired behaviour from a person or a team?
How do you ensure the delivery of excellent work without creating coercion in your team and giving individual people around you a great feeling?

This is how I see it: Every decision, every action, all forms of behaviour have three underlying elements:
- The person needs to know what to do.
- He needs to know how to do it.
- And in the end, the person must want to do it.

So, in short, before people can perform tasks optimally, they must have
the knowledge, the skill as the drive to do it.

I assume that people in a hospital’s Crisis Center do not need coaching or advice on the first two. As a professional in the healthcare, the problem will not lie in the What and the How.

If there are any rotten apples in the team right now, they are the sour fruits of a mistake in the hiring policy previously. Then you have accidentally hired a “Corpus Incompetentus”. There may have been gaps in the onboarding process. Or maybe you should look at the training plan, but one thing is sure, we can’t do anything about it right now.

Now we are at war, now we have Corona, now everything is on fire.
And if the sprinkler system doesn’t turn on, as it seems to be right now, then you have to improvise. Then we’ll have to fight with all we got to survive.

So I want to focus on component three. Wanting it, the Drive! The energy and internal motivation behind human actions.

How can you optimally support that in such a way that the switch of the shift is not only done correctly but also gives a positive vibe to the other? That the battery of the successor gets an extra boost and the empty battery of the one who just ended his/her switch receives all the respect it deserves.

As I look at it, a perfect roof tile switch has two necessary parts:
• The hard and necessary facts -> Need to Haves.
• The desired experience -> Nice to Haves.

The ‘Need to Haves’ and the ‘Nice to Haves’.

On the Need to Haves, I can imagine things like:

‘Patient Jones has a pressure ulcer, be extra careful when moving him.’

‘Patient Smith has heard that her husband is also infected with Covid-19’

and ‘Watch out when you enter treatment room three because it contains all of our own hoarded toilet paper.’

Those are the hard facts.

But in addition, you have the, no less important, Nice to Haves. What can you do to charge the battery of the other with some extra juice? What can you do to buckle him/her up for the upcoming ride?

You could compare this roof tile switch, with the Pitstop that Formula 1 drivers also have to do, only with a change of driver at the same time.

Picture this.

The Mercedes Formula 1 car enters the pit lane during the Australian GP. The tires are bare; the tank is empty. The car comes to a standstill; the tires are changed, the tank is filled and the front wing is slightly adjusted to optimise downforce.
Lewis Hamilton gets out, and before Valtteri Bottas jumps in the driver seat, Lewis asks Valtteri; My friend, listen to me. What do you want when you are finished? What can I do for you? I’ll arrange it!
Bottas is surprised and answers with an emotional voice; Wow buddy, How cool that you ask. When I finish, give me a cold beer, a clean towel and a fresh Finnish Reindeer Sandwich. A quick, warm hug follows and off he goes.
A completely happy Bottas flies onto the race track and an exhausted but satisfied Hamilton closes his shift but before jumping under the shower he arranges for some beer to be put in the fridge and a reindeer stew to get hot in the oven!

What happened there in the past few minutes?
The new driver not only has a top-notch racing car, but he also looks forward to the party that will be waiting for him at the end of the ride after the finish. Also, Lewis’s action has strengthened the friendship between the two and the law on reciprocity emerges.
Botas will have an enormous drive to arrange a happy ending for the next roof tile switch!

What is the moral of this story?

The Need to Haves, those are the rules, that is the obligatory job.
This includes the wishes of the shareholders, for example. These rules determine the processes you see in organizations.
But the Nice to Haves are the ones that keep the processes going. That is the fuel, which gives the emotional battery in a team a boost.

Perhaps the pit stop metaphor doesn’t cover it 100% for your specific team. But I believe that in every team and every other interaction you have with people around you, you can come up with reindeer sandwiches or clean towels.
The Nice to Haves are always personal, these have to do with what makes the recipient really happy.

This “happiness” might be partly covered by the salary and working conditions, but various studies show that the “soft” aspects of working in teams and living together have a huge impact on satisfaction and thus the result.

TLC Rules

Tender Loving Care, a little personal attention. You will only find out what makes everybody around ‘ tick’ by asking them, listening, and acting on the basis of what you have experienced.
So keep your team focused on the hard facts of the job and coach them to focus an equal proportion of the focus on the driver behind the race. The person behind the mandatory tasks. The Nice to Haves can make the difference between winning or losing.


Created by

Marty de Jonge

As an agnostic change agent, I am constantly amazed at what happens in organizations and learn every day. Enthusiastic writer and always open for discussion.







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