5 Ways to Build a Better Team
Teams are hard. For anyone that has been in a position of leadership, you know that gathering a group of individuals and directing them towards a common goal can be complicated. Teams have the capacity to do great things beyond the scope of the individual while also being capable slowing down the simplest process.
Bottlenecks, miscommunication, and personal differences are just a few of the many problems that can happen in teams. This is only natural given that we are imperfect people. Lisa might arrive late, starting the day off behind schedule; Bob might have thought that someone else was taking care of that task; or Sally might feel as though you're encroaching upon her responsibilities.
These issues can be heightened further in a healthcare setting leading to a stressful work environment that isn't conducive to a healthy work life or clinical productivity. That's why we have spent so much time studying team dynamics. By looking at both the macro and micro levels of the clinic, we can start to see where the problems arise and how they can be fixed. From this, we have come up with 5 ways to build a better team for healthcare.
1. define The Goal
A simple yet critical component to forming a solid teaming strategy is to make sure your team is on the same page. Some teams forego defining the goal altogether simply because it seems obvious. What's the goal of the post office? To deliver mail. What's the goal of an urgent care clinic? To care for patients. The problem with simplistic goal definition is that it lacks the the "Why" and the "How". Goal definition should have motivation behind it to give your staff a reason behind every action item. It should give them guidance on how to perform it. By adding layers to your goal definition, you give context to your team's efforts.
An example of this might be a company mission statement. Mission statements should be created with careful consideration so that your staff can apply that ideology to their day-to-day work. If the statement only applies to a certain level of the supply chain or department, you risk alienating entire departments or layers of your our staff. No matter what's being done, giving your team an authentic reason to perform their best can be one of the most powerful qualities in a teaming strategy.
2. Eliminate Obstacles
Secondly, teams need support. Nothing is more frustrating than being given a task and then slogging through obstacle after obstacle to see it through. Often, an obstacle has remained resolved because the team simply accepted it as part of the process. By accepting a problem, it becomes embedded in your daily operations, leading to decreased performance.
Bottlenecks happen and obstacles do exist, but by opening a line of communication between the team many of these can be removed. Furthermore, this develops a sense of trust within the team which boosts morale and work ethic, compounding the effects of the original system improvements.
3. Consistent Attention and Feedback
Part of eliminating obstacles is opening that line of communication between the decision makers and the team. This can come in the form of a systematic solution in which there is a defined channel to communicate feedback and needs, or it can come more organically. For companies such as us, we utilize both. Given our unique mobile business model, our face-to-face interaction with other arms of the company is limited. This means that the face-to-face interaction needs to be utilized to its fullest.
This can come in the form of company get-together's and other events that serve to strengthen inter-team relations and start a dialogue about everyone's well being. This falls in line with the goal of setting a standard of open communication. Our team members know that support is one phone call away if that face-to-face connection is not available.
4. Clear Division of Labor
Part of leading a team is delegating and managing that team's operations on a micro level. Now, this doesn't give license to "micro-managing," which can have a negative effect on a team; this simply means that the team needs to know its responsibilities. Departments need to be established and job descriptions need to be defined. This is simple enough, but it also needs to be communicated how each individual's role plays in the better picture, tying back to the defining the goal principle. If a team member know how his or her role contributes to the success or failure of another team member, it provides a powerful motivation to perform those duties to the fullest extent. By empowering and maximizing the individual, the macro side of management almost takes care of itself.
5. Reward Your team
Last but certainly not least is rewarding the team. As with any well-balanced work-life, there needs to be built in time for the team to unplug and recharge. This is especially true in healthcare where hours can be dense, stressful, and labor-intensive. Generous paid-time-off and a benefits packages can go a long way in keeping your team healthy and happy. In our case, ultrasound can put a lot of strain on the sonographer's arm and if not cared for, can lead to career ending injuries. That's why our initiative to provide monthly physical therapy to our team is so important to our business model. By keeping the team happy and healthy, you ensure the future and longevity of your company.
By taking these principles and applying them to your team, individuals begin to work less for themselves and more for the team. And that, is the powerful thing about team dynamics. So go forth and educate your team, clinic, or organization on how to optimize performance and satisfaction in whichever endeavor you find yourself in.