The Triumph of Total Teamwork
There is no question that teamwork contributes to quality care, as well as staff and patient satisfaction. We’ve always taken great pride in our relationships with other interdisciplinary team members and staff; but this doesn’t just happen. Team building takes time and effort. From our experience, here are some suggestions to nurture teams, promote staff engagement and energy, and reduce turnover:
- Don’t ask people to handle tasks that they don’t have the training or skills to accomplish successfully. For example, staff often have had to assist with telemedicine visits during the pandemic, and they needed training and support. It was important to start by determining who would help with telemedicine visits and making a list of all staff and the level of training they need. It also can help to have a designated ‘telemedicine guru’ who will be available to answer questions as they arise. At Community Physicians, our team was able to offer guidance to help staff feel more comfortable and confident with this technology, and most came to appreciate it. Every during stressful times, remember that patience is key!
- Celebrate good things happening (even during a pandemic). Of course, it’s essential to focus on urgent issues — preventing and managing COVID-19, getting residents and staff vaccinated, maintaining strong infection control and prevention efforts, and providing overall quality care. However, you also need to acknowledge quality work and achievements on a regular basis. When you recognize good work, people will repeat their efforts, and everyone sees what quality looks like. Don’t forget the little things – a patient reaches his/her goals, staff getting awards or certifications, new babies, graduations, promotions, and even birthdays.
- Take time for some self-assessment. Seek input from team members about what is working and what isn’t. A Stop Start Continue assessment, for instance, can be done without investing a lot of time or resources. Ask teams to list 1-5 activities/policies/procedures etc. that they think should be stopped, new ones they would like to see started, and existing ones they think should be continued. Then have a small representative workgroup select a manageable number to prioritize and work with the broader team on solutions.
- Encourage collaboration. Realize that not every team member has the same strengths, talents, experiences, and skills. Partner people with complimentary strengths for projects and tasks.
- Get people in the ‘right seats.’ Having a well-rounded team (which is key to success) involves having diverse players, not cookie-cutter copies of each other. This means not only having a great group of people but having them in the right roles. Simply put, it’s not enough to get the right people on the bus; you need to get them in the right seats. When you place people in positions based on their strengths, they have clearly defined goals, and they know how their role impacts the team and the organization as a whole, it is easier to achieve quality and success.
- Communication. This may seem like a given, but it’s easy to get busy and assume that people know what we want, what we’re thinking, and how we feel. We make it a point to ensure our teams know what we expect from them and what they expect from us. This is key to physician-driven, patient-centered care. We work with administrators, directors of nursing, and others to address quality issues or facility-wide problems – such as falls, pain scores, cardiac issues, and RTH rates – and we develop custom-tailored pathways with their input.
True partnerships are key to teamwork, and we work with our facilities to build a superior network, a strong health system and plan, and excellent community partnerships. This is part of a physician-led, team-based care that puts patients at the center, maximizes quality outcomes, and creates and maintains engaged teams.