Many organisations including the NHS understand the importance of good team working to deliver great performance. At the same time there is often a huge gap between what people understand and what they do.
Why Is Team Working A Challenge?
There are several reasons in my experience why team working is a challenge.
- We are use to looking after number one. In other words working in our own interests. I am sure we all have relied on others at times and been let down
- Highly qualified people achieved success on their own merits. Look at the number of different professions in the NHS. All have their own difficult exams. One person succeeds at others expense so maybe it is not surprising that people compete before collaborating.
- There is no incentive. While national pay bands have many merits, they have limited flexibility to reward performance way in excess of expectations.
- People know their areas well but sometimes lack wider awareness. Without doubt people in clinical firms or wards understand their areas well. However, there is sometimes a lack of awareness of the impact of what they do on others.
How To Improve Team Working
- Train people how to work in teams. This might seem like an odd thing to say. Yet in reality very few people get trained in how to get the best from teams.
- Create the right conditions. You have to create the right conditions for team working. Part of this is supporting a culture of collaborating.
- Give teams freedom to make things happen. It is all too easy to talk about this but when it comes down to it leaders and managers still want to micro manage.
- Showcase the successes. There are probably plenty of examples of success achieved through teams. Some are good at highlighting and showcasing these while others do very little in this area.
- Let people have a go and try things. Yes things might not go as planned or the team might not always take the best route to delivering the result. On the other hands when people have setbacks they learn so much more.
- Teach people how to communicate and specifically to listen. I think we all can recall times when we were more interested in getting our point across than listening. Yet we all know that listening is one of the most important if not the most important part of communication.
The Bottom Line: There is always a place for solo effort at the same time teams make a huge contribution to organisational success.
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