By Charu G. Raheja, PhD
A successful office requires a highly effective team. Research shows that successful teams are better at brainstorming new ideas and teamwork allows for coordinated work, which translates into better performance. In medicine, successful teamwork is even more crucial because better teams translate into better patient care. See for example, (The human factor: the critical importance of effective teamwork and communication in providing safe care). http://qualitysafety.bmj.com/content/13/
As an office manager, health care practitioner, or doctor, there are many things you can do as individuals to help your practice or team achieve optimal performance.
1. Lead By Example This might sound like common sense but it cannot be stressed enough because this is one of the most effective strategies to developing a productive team. Imagine that you have a boss that stresses teamwork but you never see this person leave their office or lift a hand to help another. No matter how much good advice this boss offers, if the person does not demonstrate it in action you will probably not take it too seriously.
Let’s take that same scenario and reverse it. If you have a boss that always talks about teamwork and this same person often steps out of their office, engages with the staff members and discusses ideas and helps when needed, you are much more likely to follow the advice offered. Your attitude and what you do will often be followed by others. This leads me to my next point:
2. Always Stay Positive Attitudes are contagious. Imagine a stressful day in the office where you have patient after patient and nothing seems to go right, it can be very easy to get frustrated and vent about this to other coworkers. Pretty soon you will notice the whole office is complaining about the day.
Conversely, even when you are having a crazy day and you can’t seem to get ahead no matter what, if you consciously make the effort to stay positive or simply keep smiling, you will notice other members of the team will catch that spirit and convey the same positive attitude regardless of the situation.
3. Delegate Appropriately A major job of the team leader is to delegate tasks to appropriate personnel. In the healthcare field, it only makes sense to have licensed employees such as doctors and nurses focus on highly skilled tasks and unlicensed personnel are delegated many other tasks.
4. Give Compliments Recognize each other. Everybody likes to hear when a job is well-done. Not only does it make the person feel good, it also inspires them to continue doing a good job. For example, let’s say one of the secretaries in the office develops great rapport with the patients and you notice people are always happy to talk this individual, tell that person that you notice this. In turn, the secretary can take pride their work and strive for more positive and engaging customer experiences which will benefit the well-being of the entire office.
5. Seek Feedback Nothing can contribute to teamwork better than staff members feeling like they are involved with the decision making process. Leave a comment box or ask for suggestions on how to make the office run more smoothly. Don’t set your processes in stone, but allow for change when members pose ideas that may improve the efficiency of your office. Also, some people are reluctant to give feedback unless they are asked, so once a year, conduct a formal feedback process where staff gets an opportunity to give each other feedback and general comments about the office.
6. Work on Teamwork: Finally, in order to be a successful team, it is important to start by building a team morale and attitude in your office. Having team work mentality is associated with boosting morale, improving communication, and overall better organizations. You can do some quick ideas and activities during a lunch break with your group to start a conversation such as discussing a problem or a patient scenario and breaking down groups to come up with a solution to present to the office. You can also find some fun activities to do outside of the office such as joining a volunteer activity as a group. See also the following link for some ideas for team activities: http://www.huddle.com/blog/team-building-activities/, and http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_52.htm
A successful and productive team is like a well-oiled machine that has all of its parts and components working at their optimal performance. A well working team will lead to better and happier employees, which in turn leads to better patient care.
What to read next:
Keeping Your Staff Happy and Productive: Save Your Group up to $48K per Nurse: http://triagelogic.com/TCFall2013-Happy-Staff-Save-Healthcare-Dollars
Leonard, Graham, Bonacum Qual Saf Health Care 2004;13:i85-i90 doi:10.1136/qshc.2004.010033, “The human factor: the critical importance of effective teamwork and communication in providing safe care.” http://qualitysafety.bmj.com/content/13/suppl_1/i85.short