Tips for Team Building in Healthcare

5 min

529 points

Working in healthcare and having a long, successful career can depend on how well you work in a team. This is rarely a career where you work alone. You will be expected to liaise with other professionals, whether these are colleagues you work alongside or other healthcare workers you refer patients to and share relevant information with. So, it’s important to feel connected to and build trust in the people you work with. Here are some team-building tips that should help.

Building trust

One of the best ways to create a strong team is to build trust, and this applies to healthcare more than many other careers. To help patients, you need to build trust with those you work with and be able to turn to them for professional and sometimes emotional support. You also need to show that they can trust you in the same way.

A few of the ways that you can do this include being tactful but honest with them, fulfilling any commitments you have, and building long-term professional relationships so that they feel comfortable communicating with you.

By building strong teams, you ensure that you and your colleagues have people to offer support when things get challenging. Walsh University’s online nursing courses help build this culture too, as support is readily available even to those studying at unusual hours.

We all have our strong points and days when things feel more challenging. A team that works well together and trusts each other can increase productivity using their individual strong points or help each other during these times. It works both ways, and you will do the same for members of your team whenever they need your help.

Improving communication skills

Communication is vital in healthcare. This covers everything from delivering good or bad news to patients and their families to discussing proposed, current, and potential treatments for patients with your colleagues. Your team will help with patients who need care and other help at different times, and you won’t always be around to see this. So, communicating regularly in meetings and through paperwork is important. This should be clear and detailed but as concise as possible, leaving out any unnecessary details so that your team can focus on what matters.

When doing team-building exercises to improve communication, the tasks may seem irrelevant to healthcare – however, they help to improve how you communicate with each other. One example is the well-known island task where teams must narrow down a list of around 20 items to five. These are the items they believe will help them the most if they are deserted on an island. The task involves discussing and deciding between them what is most important and why. This technique can be transferred to a healthcare setting, where time or resources are low, and a quick decision needs to be made.

Alternatively, a team-building task where people work in pairs and one of them draws an image, based only on their partner’s description, is great for building communication skills. If the person drawing the images gets close to recreating the actual image being described, then this is a good representation of being able to communicate effectively. It takes practice, but this type of communication can be valuable in a busy healthcare setting where information needs to be shared and action needs to be taken quickly.

Valuing each other’s skills

Valuing each other’s skills is essential in healthcare, because everyone works together for the good of the patient. This creates a better workplace and makes the challenges easier to overcome, as you know that you can rely on team members who specialize in different aspects of health, or that you are valued by others because of your specialism or areas you excel. Instead of competing against each other, you work together and add something to the team to benefit those you are trying to help.

Any team-building experiences should reflect this mindset, encouraging everyone to contribute and find a solution. There may not be one certain answer. Instead, there will often be several possible outcomes, but the process of working together should result in everyone agreeing on an outcome and playing a vital part in getting to that point.

Encouraging honesty

A great healthcare setting can be created when everyone feels that they can be honest. For example, if someone has an idea that could help a patient or improve things in the work setting, then being able to express this without judgment or arguments will enable them to make their own suggestions. Other aspects such as communication will make it possible to discuss the idea and decide as a team. Even if they go with another option, everyone should still feel like their idea has been given fair consideration and should not be deterred from speaking up in the future.

Having regular brainstorming sessions as a team can help to provide everyone with a space to speak up and take part in discussions so that they feel more able to do the same in a work setting. Outside of work, activities such as break rooms can help colleagues bond and work together to find solutions to problems.

Developing a team mindset

Healthcare is a profession where the achievements of one person are the achievements of the whole team. One person might have a breakthrough in delivering the treatment that improves a patient’s health, but the lead-up to this will involve several professionals who carry out tests, speak to patients and their families, and carry out the admin tasks that are crucial in keeping track of everything and ensuring that the process runs smoothly. In short, everyone has a part to play.

Team-building tasks should include everyone and be representative of the team mindset needed in healthcare. If the tasks are also fun, then this can encourage people to join in and make it feel like less of a work-related activity. One example of this is a scavenger hunt where people are split into teams. While they are competing with other teams, they have to work with the others in their team to receive a reward. It can also be a fun day out and a great way to spend time with colleagues outside of the usual medical setting.

Focus on common goals

Reminding your colleagues of common goals can help to overcome any disagreements when they arise. It’s only natural that people with different backgrounds and personalities will clash sometimes, but the way that this is resolved makes all the difference.

Team-building tasks such as a complimentary circle can be beneficial. This is where each person says something positive about the person next to them. This highlights the positive qualities of the individual in your team, and it’s helpful to remember these if things start to get heated at work. Understanding their positive qualities and the reasons behind their words or actions can lead to a resolution or compromise that suit everyone, without disagreements developing into major problems in the workplace.

Social events outside of the workplace can also help colleagues to get to know each other on a personal level and be able to relate to them better at work when working toward common goals.

Encouraging individuals to speak up

Some people will be more vocal in the workplace than others, but this doesn’t mean that those who are quieter don’t also have ideas. If everyone feels that they can contribute, this helps to make positive changes and ensures that everyone feels like they have a voice within the team.

Team-building tasks that focus on giving everyone an equal amount of time to contribute and speak out can help them feel more comfortable communicating in a work setting. Role-play activities help everyone practice for specific scenarios or those they struggle with. If these are carried out in an environment where only constructive feedback is given, this allows everyone to improve in their weaker areas.

It can take a while for some healthcare workers to get used to it, but roleplay is a good activity for practicing and getting feedback from the rest of the team. There should be some rules such as the types of responses that people can give in their feedback. These could include focusing on how to improve, rather than simply saying that something is wrong but not offering specific advice on how to make it right. The more team members trust each other, the more comfortable they will feel carrying out tasks such as these. So, other team-building activities should be attempted before getting to this stage.

Healthcare professionals choose their roles because they strive to help people. It can be a challenging career at times, but it’s also hugely rewarding. Being part of a closely-knit team can be a major advantage. These are the people you work with every day or at least regularly, so it helps to have their support.

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529 points