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The Art and Science of Teaming (Maximize Team Productivity)

Clint Maun, CSP

Healthcare organizations are finding it difficult to be successful without the use of teams to produce important improvement and operational stability. This is particularly true when developing Quality Improvement teams for clinical success, Recruitment, Selection, Retention teams and Revenue Enhancement related teams.

To produce a successful team you need to develop boundaries for the implementation of successful group activities. These boundaries or ground rules include:

  1. Make it an honor to be on a team. Don’t manipulate or force people to be on teams for the wrong reasons.

  2. Most high-level facility specific team operations need to have the administrator participate as the chairperson. This ensures there will be continuity of cross-functional effort, turf & territory reduction and overall decision-making capabilities available at all times.

  3. The team meetings must have agendas.

  4. The team meetings must start and end on time.

  5. The team meetings must be a specific action type of meeting versus a reporting meeting. Simply circling people around with various informational updates from each team member won’t accomplish anything. You must make sure the prioritized agenda items are at the top of the list and there is a focus by every member of the team on success against those agenda items.

  6. The teams must ensure everyone participates and holds each other accountable.

  7. The team must make decisions about future agendas, sub-team work between meetings and the definition of successful problem solving.

  8. The team must decide what level of decision-making they have and what their approval points are for required action accomplishment.

  9. The organization must support that the teams will be utilized to improve areas of work behavior versus a traditional military table of organization model.

  10. You must ensure all members of other areas of the organization are informed as to the purpose of the teams and why it’s important for the success of the organization.

  11. Teams needs to deal with issues of conflict and territory by setting up ground rules at the front end of the team implementation.

  12. The people talking on a team can’t only be the people at the top.

  13. The group has to "police" any over zealous involvement by some team members at the exclusion of others. It must also "step up" individuals who are not participating or who do not get work completed timely between meetings. The group members cannot start snitching about others to higher-level people or the team won’t be successful.

  14. The team must have accountability to accomplish their tasks by a certain time frame.

  15. There should be a written plan in place for the accountable product with goals to accomplish and reporting should be frequent about the progress of the team to other levels of authority/accountability.

  16. The team must realize when it needs to stop and assess how it is functioning and process the strengths/barriers related to issues.

  17. The team must celebrate and recognize its success with appropriate positive feedback/rewards.

  18. The team must deal with all the necessary public relations components to ensure there is a positive atmosphere surrounding the team’s accomplishments.

By following these and other customized ground rules for your team, healthcare organizations can produce measurable success in important areas. They can accomplish more using a team-based process than the traditional assignment of specific work to certain turf or territory areas. This cross-functional teaming approach is a critical factor in today’s healthcare organization’s success. It leads to our belief that we are our own best friend, or worst enemy. It also sets in motion a goal oriented accomplishment effort that can be used for other group behavior efforts.

A team based approach to problem solving and decision making is vital to the healthy growth of an organization.