Articles of Interest

 Successful Teams…are there any out there?

What do successful teams look like? Are they enigmas? Do any really exist? Are they more trouble than they are worth? Many of us have asked these questions and have also experienced the frustration of working with a group of people when nothing seems to get done except maybe a lot of fighting. Working together as a team is not as simple as it sounds…easier said than done as they say! There are many reasons teams fail even with the best intentions.

First, sometimes the goals are not clear to all members. What exactly is it we are supposed to accomplish? Sometimes the purpose is very clear to management or the facilitator but not to the rest of the group. The purpose needs to be clearly and directly communicated to the group. This may need to be reinforced several times and the group's perception of the 'why' needs to be discussed.

Second, is the membership compatible? We put teams together for several reasons and even if the talent mix is there, the personalities may not mesh together. Conscious thought needs to be put into the creation of a team. What adjustments need to be made when possible to make the team more compatible? The membership should not be 'cast in stone'. Problems may not surface until after the team has worked together for awhile. A decision may often need to be made to change the players.

Third, the team needs to be capable of good decisions. Do they have the skills required to accomplish that? It isn't as easy as it seems. Hopefully, the membership has some seasoned team members that are capable of 'mentoring' the group to make sound decisions. Often, training and education to develop a system that minimizes poor decision-making will help. There are plenty of decision-making processes available to assist the team with that. Identifying the level of authority a team has that can increase as the skill level increases may be all that is needed.

Fourth, will the learning curve tolerate mistakes? New teams need to be able to make mistakes and receive the support and guidance necessary to learn and grow from those mistakes. Fifth, are there sufficient rewards for working together vs. working alone? If star performance is what is rewarded and not the team behavior, there will be little incentive to work as a team.

These are merely five possible reasons as to why teams struggle and are often given up as unsuccessful. Poor team function is very distressing for management as well as the team. It is time-consuming and an expensive use of resources if not used well. In healthcare, as in any industry, time is critical and we cannot afford to waste it. We are all being forced to work harder with less resources. Let's use the resources we have well and to our advantage. Team work works and teams usually make the best decisions. Time and energy needs to be invested in the process of team building. The definition, assessment, planning and implementation of teams to accomplish the task needs to be as important as the task itself to be accomplished. Some might say…the team in and of itself is more important than the task.

 Please use this information as it is intended but if you copy, copy in its entirety with appropriate copyright information. All articles are copyrighted and owned by Lisa Pervin, PhD, RN, CRRN & Best Business Practices Consulting, Inc. 2015