It is rewarding and fulfilling to contribute to successful outcomes with a group of people. Being part of a team helps us achieve greater goals than we can alone. This is especially true in healthcare when the stakes are usually high, and the goals are substantial. Being part of a positive team versus one that is negative can make a world of difference. Hopefully, you have participated in teams that have been so gratifying and productive that you want to work with those people again or replicate that success to other team environments in your life. Conversely, many of us may have participated in a group or committee where some of the members did not participate, say or did things to only “stir the pot” or sabotaged the work of others. These can be frustrating experiences and can decrease morale and productivity.
As healthcare leaders, it falls on you to build a positive team culture to achieve those high-stake goals such as positive patient outcomes, decreased readmission rates and reduced infection rates. A positive culture can lead to a more productive culture; it benefits your staff, your patients and you! Here are 3 tips to building a positive team culture at your organization.
Treat people fairly.
Being part of a positive, successful team means everyone must be treated fairly. As a healthcare leader, you need to lead by example, through both your actions and your words. Being fair is not as simple as giving everyone a cookie; it means creating mutual respect and trust among members of the team. To build that trust and respect, you need to support your team by understanding their daily tasks and work with, and through, their strengths and weaknesses. It means supporting the team when questions need answered or more resources are required to accomplish those tasks. And it means being honest and transparent with your team – in both good and bad circumstances. Keep them informed of upcoming policy changes, new products and new protocols. Welcome ideas from all members. Encourage team members who come from different backgrounds or have different career experiences or longevity to speak up and share their thoughts and perspectives. Hearing from all perspectives can encourage different approaches and stimulate the excitement within the group.
Have clear roles.
People often get frustrated when they feel they are misunderstood or when they have misunderstood you. Communication is key. Be clear in your message and your expectations. As their leader, the group is looking to you for direction. Ensure all team members are clear on their role and their responsibilities. Provide continuous feedback and don’t be shy about holding each team member accountable. Team members may get resentful if someone on the team is not pulling his weight and it is not addressed. Look at each situation individually. If a team member is undergoing personal stress and cannot contribute to the team’s efforts for a period, explain that to the team and have someone temporarily step in. Remind others that they would want the same support for themselves. However, if someone is blatantly not fulfilling their duties, work with that person to determine the underlying issues so they do not sabotage the group’s success
Create an energetic connection.
Work is hard. If it were easy, it probably wouldn’t be called work! When it is appropriate, have fun with your team. Allow for humor and laughter. As their leader, you need to invoke energy and encouragement in your team so that, ultimately, you can retain good people and achieve your goals. Show interest in your team and get to know the individuals – their hobbies, favorite movie, upcoming vacations, etc. This will build deeper and more meaningful connections on your team.
When doing their job, people want to feel good and they want to be recognized for their contributions. Take time to identify team members for the positive work they have accomplished. Be cognizant of your gratitude and spend an extra minute saying thank you for their contributions to the project or goal. A hand-written note can be a very powerful way to show you appreciate them going the extra mile for the team.
Creating a positive team atmosphere will help to achieve significant goals such as positive HCAHPS scores, reduced HAIs and positive clinical outcomes. These are goals you cannot accomplish alone! A positive team culture is fulfilling and encourages your staff to want to do their best. It can provide a sense of belonging and productivity, ultimately helping you to retain your staff and keep them engaged. In general, people want to do a good job, so foster that by building a positive team culture. You and you team will do great things!