Long shifts, varying work styles and power struggles can contribute to dissension among your nursing staff. Patient satisfaction and engagement, as well as productivity and attention to detail suffer when team squabbles occur. This can, unfortunately, affect your HCAHPS scores. Of course, building a cohesive team takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. Here are a few ways you can help your nursing staff develop stronger relationships while creating a cohesive team environment.
Emphasize Your Mission
Although your mission might seem obvious, discussing it can help ensure all nursing staff members are working toward the same goal. In addition to frequently mentioning your goal of providing excellent patient care, discuss the way nurses have contributed to the goal, both individually and as a group. When staff members feel everyone is committed to accomplishing the same goal, they may become more supportive of their co-workers and more willing to assist them when necessary.
Make It Meaningful
Thanks to a hectic work schedule and staffing deficits, it’s not always easy for nurses to form strong connections with colleagues. Often, there’s little time for personal interactions due to time constraints. But when co-workers establish personal relationships, working together as a team comes much more naturally. Taking a few minutes at the beginning of staff meetings for some small talk can help the group connect, as can asking nurses to share their past experiences when discussing proposed changes to procedures or policies.
We know it’s not easy to keep up with 30 staff birthdays, but it’s the little things, like a special treat in the break room that help relationships grow. Whether you’re participating in the hospital holiday decorating contest or celebrating a nurse’s engagement, making a little time for fun can help cement personal connections.
It’s only natural to disagree with co-workers from time to time, but in some cases, arguments and griping can become a daily occurrence. Decreasing the potential for conflict can improve morale and help nurses see co-workers as allies. When you set clear expectations for the role each nurse will perform, there are no gray areas that can lead to arguments.
If arguments do occur, training employees to phrase issues in neutral terms and use “I” statements can help keep disagreements civil and productive. For example, “I’m concerned about the current lunch schedule and hope we can make changes,” is a much better approach than saying, “You think you can get away with anything you want. You always come back from lunch 15 minutes late and leave the unit short-staffed.”
Providing opportunities for relationship-building creates strong bonds that help nurses work as a team. Establishing a positive, productive atmosphere on nursing units is an essential aspect of creating a culture that emphasizes staff and patient satisfaction.
Remember Your Leadership Role
While you want to encourage each of your team members to take ownership of their responsibilities and actions, you still want to provide leadership. After all, you are the one accountable for your team’s output. Here are a few ways nurse leaders can instill guidance and build a strong team:
- Create an official process for team members to give input regarding their jobs
- Praise the team as a whole when applicable
- Reward individuals when applicable
- Encourage participation during hospital and committee meetings
- Communicate team successes
When a team has a strong leader, a cohesive bond can be built.
Don’t miss out on opportunities to improve patient satisfaction and, consequently, improve your HCAHPS scores. Request the free guide, The Ultimate Patient Satisfaction Checklist for Nurse Managers here.