Powerful Teams in Healthcare: Why We Should Build Them & Where to Start

Historically, building effective and powerful teams has not been a priority for most healthcare organizations. As clinical healthcare providers, the primary focus has been on managing the daily challenges associated with the workforce, regulation, and funding. Building great teams typically doesn’t make the top of the list.

Maybe it’s time to change that approach.

History teaches us that most great discoveries—or significant accomplishments—result from the work of powerful teams. Even in golf, which is typically considered a solo sport, the pros have a support system comprised of coaches, equipment specialists, and trainers. Together, they form a powerful team that drives results: a win for the pro golfer.

If powerful teams are so effective, why don’t we see more of an emphasis on building them in health care organizations? Are we concerned that they won’t last? That they’ll be too hard to manage? That they’ll “go rogue” and undermine executive planning? Whatever the concern, the outcomes that result from building powerful teams in a systematic, manageable, outcome-driven method will surely overcome the uneasiness that may precede them.

The keys to building engaged, powerful teams are defining the correct framework, setting measurable goals, training team members, and empowering them to add value at each step, with a focus on producing positive outcomes for those we serve.

To start the process, here are three steps to set the larger picture into motion:

Visualize the Potential

With increasing challenges in staffing turnover and retention, organizations have chosen to dedicate valuable energy and resources to other areas of the operation. However, with rising changes, challenges, and dynamic work environments, effective teams are more critical than ever to maximize outcomes and optimize the use of resources in the organization. Effective teams are integral to the overall organizational success and longevity, not an afterthought.

Tip #1: Start today with a commitment to building powerful teams. Enlist a core group of leaders to define the framework required for your organization and the outcomes desired. Start simple, then build on your success.

Understand How to Get There

The presence and output of effective teams have been demonstrated to improve patient outcomes, boost employee morale, and increase job satisfaction.1 However, team building is not a simple one-time activity to be done in advance of a specific project. It is an intentional, systemic process that requires time and attention. Identifying how teams work best and why they fail is mission-critical to the success of any organization.

Tip #2: Address team building success factors early, or it will limit growth and impact all areas of the organization. Establish a solid foundation for exploring the process of building a team, creating specific conditions for team efficacy and high performance, with specific tools for enhancing communication with team members.

Measure the Impact

Teams carry out much of the work in healthcare organizations—from quality teams to clinical teams, leadership teams, and more. Many of these teams lack a definition of their specific purpose, measurable goals, and anticipated impact. Nevertheless, the expectation is that they will contribute meaningfully to improved outcomes.

Tip #3: Design metrics for team leaders to empower them in their role and become accountable for clearly set team goals. Develop team models to deliver measurable, operationally sound plans and processes.

The reality is that no individual is so capable, talented, or available that they can single-handedly make a healthcare organization operate smoothly and effectively. It truly takes a powerful team to accomplish our most significant work. Powerful teams also require effective leaders. My MedBridge Leadership Certificate Programs will help you learn more about how you can develop your leadership skills and become an impactful leader in the challenging, changing, often chaotic work environment of healthcare.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”–Andrew Carnegie

  1. Rosen, M. A., Diaz Granados, D., Dietz, A. S., Benishek, L. E., Thompson, D., Pronovost, P. J., & Weaver, S. J. (2018). Teamwork in healthcare: Key discoveries enabling safer, high-quality care. American Psychologist, 73(4), 433–450. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000298