Healthcare is delivered in teams involving multiple disciplines. The terms multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary are often used interchangeably and ambiguously (Cunningham, Ward, De Brún & McAuliffe, 2018).
According to Cunningham et al., team performance, quality, safety, and efficiency are areas in healthcare that attract a great deal of attention. Given the costs required to operate health services and increasing evidence that demonstrates that failing to work as a team is a sizable contributor to patient harm and preventable medical errors, working well as a team is imperative.
Here are some key steps to building and maintaining a strong, cohesive, and effective team for projects.
|Define the Purpose||Clearly define the purpose of the team, including the overall outcome it has been brought together to achieve. What is the team creating, improving, or changing? What is the purpose of each member's role in the team? Providing a clear, inspiring vision sets the foundation for successful teamwork, and helps guide the direction of the group when they face challenges and decisions.|
|Assemble the Team||High performing teams are comprised of individuals that passionately embrace the vision, believe their contribution is meaningful and are motivated to give their best effort. All team members should trust, respect and support each other. Choose members with complementary skills and abilities, who can bring a diverse range of viewpoints and ideas to the table. Achieving a good balance of personality types will enable the group to work together harmoniously and challenge each other when necessary.|
|Determine the Goals||Once the team is established and united behind a shared, compelling purpose, the next step is to break the vision down into smaller, manageable goals and tasks. Outline the required tasks in a schedule with agreed deadlines, milestones and responsibilities. Decide the role that each team member will play. Be sure to also consider any resources required in terms of time, materials, space, support and money.|
|Set Expectations||To ensure that each member understands what is expected of them, define a standard of conduct for the team. Will communication be frequent, open, honest and transparent? Will contributions be encouraged, valued and recognized? Will conflict be handled in a constructive way? Will team decisions and feedback be respected? Setting clear standards at the start will ensure that each member's conduct and contributions are appropriate.|
|Monitor and Review||
Regularly review the group's performance through team meetings and one-on-one time to ensure that progress is being made toward goals. Reflect on questions such as:
|Celebrate and Reward||Make the time to regularly recognize, reward, and celebrate both team and individual performance. This will help to build morale and bolster the motivation of the group to continue their hard work. Find the most appropriate way to celebrate team milestones, such as a personal "thank you" at a team meeting, an email copied to senior managers, or a team lunch. Ensure that recognition is consistent, and that the method you choose inspires and reinforces the team members to continue their positive contribution to the team's progress.|