Strategies to improve Team Effectiveness

“More heads is better than one” – we heard this several times. This statement reminds us that we need to work “with” and “for” the team to achieve the shared goal and objectives. This is true in the healthcare setting where a lot of medical and allied health professionals collaborate to come up with the best plan of care for patients. In the nursing profession, though dependent, collaboration is highly warranted. Why is this so? It is because we want what is best for our patients. And the best is born, most of the time, from multiple thinking minds.

This is what Sue Nash and Ian Gover wanted to convey in their article “Effective Team Leadership: techniques that nurses can use to improve teamworking” published in 2009 at Nursing Times. The article was written to present three-point strategies that could help nurses improve team effectiveness.

Strategy 1: Team Reflection
Like the nursing process, we need first to analyze the situation before moving on to the other stages. It is the same with improving team effectiveness. It requires an investment on time for enough reflection. But, many find it difficult to do so. The usual battle cry is not to just stand there but to do something. However, there were evidences that the statement “Do not just do something – stand there, reflect and take action” will do us better than the aforementioned. What is it with reflection that makes it the first strategy? It is the ability of a team to reflect on their task, objectives, processes, and team culture that determines or predicts the entire team’s success and effectiveness.

Strategy 2: Ensuring all members participate
The strategy given by the authors which will ensure members’ participation is an effective meeting. The essentials of a good meeting, according to the authors, include the following: (1) having the right people participating, (2) having clarity of purpose for the meeting, (3) that it is evident how the meeting contributes to high-quality service provision.

Further, as cited in the article, Nash (2006) said that meetings need the following in order for them to be effective: (1) agenda and papers sent out in advance so the introverts can think about the information as extroverts, whose tendency is to do-think-do; (2) agenda items are phrased as a question; (3) the round robin system be utilized.

Strategy 3: establishing ground rules
The last strategy that should be put in place are ground rules. These rules will provide the members of the team a sense of direction. With rules, one is bound to stick with the standards. Members should be able to establish an “understanding of the ways of working, both in the processes and behaviors expected as well as team tasks”

These ground rules are expected to be reinforced and reiterated every so often. Establishing such rules and ways of working need not to be an exercise.

It needs ample time and frequent practice in order for this to be carried out well. The question “can we afford not to do it?” instead of “can we afford to do it?” is asked along side with the fact that evidence reveals that an effective team contribute well to the quality of care and total well-being of the one rendering it.

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