Healthcare teams are living in unprecedented times right now with a lot of uncertainty and fear. The finish line keeps moving as soon as we are near it. The burden placed upon our shoulders is a heavy one to bear. However, we can do this! I believe in the collective power, intelligence, and perseverance of the scientists, physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, support staff, administrators, etc. who are working around the clock to stop the spread of this virus, treat the people who have been infected, and return our world back to – not where it was – return us to a better world.
Here’s the deal – You cannot continue to care for patients and continue to fight the virus alone. “We’re all in this together” means today, tomorrow, and forever – providing awesome care to patients depends on healthcare teams.
Compare a sports team to healthcare teams. When asked, most of us can clearly identify a sports team as just that…a team. However, when asked if nurses believed they were a part of a team, we hesitate.
Some of the most common complaints I hear from nurses is that they feel unsupported and are often overwhelmed with the amount of work they need to accomplish in a day – seemingly, by themselves. However, if nurses identified themselves (and others) as part of the same healthcare team, I think we wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed and alone.
John Maxwell writes a lot about teams. In his book, “Teamwork 101” he shares 7 characteristics of teams. I encourage you to compare YOUR workplace to these characteristics:
ALL GREAT TEAMS…
Care about each other– All great teams start with caring about each other – Caring is the foundation. When you see great sports teams score a point or touchdown, they all celebrate together. When a team member is in trouble, the team stops everything to help their teammate.
What can YOU do to show your co-workers that you care about them?
Share common goals– All great teams know the goal. What is the goal of a football team? Basketball team? It’s to score of course!!!
What about YOUR team? What is the goal? It should involve patient care…not…avoiding admissions or getting the easiest assignments.
Communicate with each other –Communication starts with the leader communicating to team members and team members communicating to each other…without communication, members are more likely to work against each other and tasks get left undone. Imagine when a fly ball is hit to the outfield. Both outfielders run towards the ball. If nobody communicates, they run into each other and MISS the ball (how many bloopers have we seen about this?) but when they communicate, “I got it!” they catch the ball.
Are you communicating effectively with all members of your team?
Grow together– The leader is coach, providing opportunities for healthcare teams to learn and grow professionally and personally. But, team members are also responsible for helping each other to grow. Great sports teams support skill development in each other through practice, practice and practice!!
What can you do to strengthen your co-workers and help them grow?
Fit well together– A good fit requires an attitude of partnership. You know strengths and weaknesses of team members and you work together to become a stronger team.
Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of YOUR co-workers? What are you doing to support their weaknesses? What are you doing to give them opportunities to utilize their strengths?
Place the needs of the team above their own – Great healthcare teams give the ball to their teammate who may then score the winning point. Why, because it’s about the team…not the individual.
Are you picking up the slack for new nurses? How do you support agency or travel nurses? Are you sacrificing an easy assignment for the sake of the team?
Value each role– Great teams recognize that EVERY member of the team, no matter what role they play, is valued as an equal. The safety is just as important as the quarterback; the guard is just as important as the forward; the nursing assistant is just as important as the nurse.
How do you show other teammates that you value them?
One of my favorite “team” moments came from the movie, Remember the Titans. Do you remember the scene when Denzel Washington gave his anthem speech to his players about playing as a TEAM? And I quote, “You look like a bunch of 5th grade sissy’s after a cat fight.” Love it!
He was able to rally his individual players together to become a TEAM. And of course, won the championship.
Does it look like they care about each other?
Do they share a common goal?
Are they communicating well with one another?
Can you see them growing together? Fitting together?
Do they value each other?
Yeah…now that’s an exemplary team! Go get it!!!
I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of going to hockey games. I hate the cold and they are held literally in a giant freezer. However, my husband and brother had season tickets to the Pittsburgh Penguins and I went to a few games. Even with having limited knowledge and experience with the sport, I could still notice when they were playing well and when they weren’t. I was in awe of how in sync they were at times. The way they would just pass the puck to each other (while on skates!). It was like they were reading each other’s minds! Everyone has off days though, and I hate to admit I found myself shouting out, “are you even on the same team?”, or “are you even playing the same game?”. I would like to point out that they couldn’t have won the Stanley Cup Championship 2 years in a row if they didn’t have all of the characteristics of a great team.
Bottom line is this: Great teams are not magically created. Great teams are cultivated, nurtured, and grown over time. The good news is that any group can become a high performing, supportive team!
If you want to take action but are unsure of how or where to start, try starting with YOU and learn 10 Ways to Become a Better Coworker in the New Year.
If you want to wake up every day and look FORWARD to going into work instead of feeling like you are about to walk the green mile, check out my blog, “5 Ways to Reduce Burnout in Nursing by tackling it as a Team,”.
As Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”. If we want to get through this we need to come together, STAY together, and work together.