An experienced registered nurse (RN) who has just completed a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Leadership at a regional university is keen to progress their nursing career. They have accepted the offer of their Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) to become the team leader of a n interdisciplinary team that is to be formed to investigate an increase in nosocomial infections in the unit. The NUM has commented to the RN that one or two of the non nursing staff have expressed apprehension about the team being led by a member of the nursing staff and not one of the other health care professionals. The RN is determined to create and lead an effective team.
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The paper is based on the above scenario. Its main emphasis is on building health team. In this paper, there is an evaluation of characteristics of groups and teams as well as integrating elements necessary for effective team building. These are conflict resolution, singleness of mission, willingness to cooperate, and commitment. While discussing these key concepts, an element of the basic sets of established teams has been included (Stanley, 2011, p. 189). Each set; be it a high performance team, a functional team, or a struggling team has different characteristics.
Key Differences between Teams and Groups
According to Kowalski, (2011, p. 346), a group is a number of people put together. Stanley defines a group as a number of people who are related to each other in one way or another, or people who have a factor in common (2011, p. 188). People in a group may play different roles in a given activity. However, this does not mean that a group can be counted as a team.
A team is defined as a number of people who are working on a given task together (Kowalski, 2011, p. 346). The definition of a health care team is not much different from this. According to Stanley, a health care team is a group f people who share concise goals; common objectives and work towards achievements through contributions of each member (2011 p. 186). Further on, teams are grouped into two. There are effective teams and ineffective teams (Kowalski, and Yoder-Wise, 2006, p. 351). Effective teams have a common purpose. They are able to formulate a system that makes it easy to solve any problems within them and work in the most effective way possible (Stanley, 2011, p. 185).
Established teams fall into three basic categories. They are high performance teams, OK or functioning teams, and struggling teams (Stanley, 2011, p. 189). High performance teams are usually articulate. They generate interest, cooperation and are synergistic in their relationships. OK teams just tend to get along; are considered average in their performance and are content with fluctuating achievements. Struggling teams do not achieve their required goals are not organized and have many conflict issues (Stanley, 2011, p. 191).
In the scenario offered for this discussion the group designed to investigate an increase in nosocomial infections in the unit can be identified a team. This group has a specific purpose and skills pertinent for execution of the given tasks which are implicit in roles to be performed.
In the due course of running projects and activities, some teams may encounter a number of challenges. The best solution is to implement some team building. Team building is enhanced by factors such as the set goals, allocation of work, culture of a team, and the way the team members relate to each other (Stanley, 2011, 194). These approaches are best applied after a problem has been identified and possible solutions put into consideration. In the event that these approaches are not effective, then building a new team is counted reasonable (Stanley, 2011, p. 193). However, there are other key team concepts that team leaders can implement to build effective teams. These are: conflict resolution, singleness of mission, willingness to cooperate, and commitment.
Conflict resolution is a process involving various approaches of solving conflicts and disagreements. This process is necessary since it is difficult for people to co-exist without having some form of conflict. It, therefore, is necessary to have ways of solving conflicts whenever they occur (Kowalski, and Yoder-Wise, 2006, p. 353).
Clinical leadership entails conflict between managerial and clinical aspects of role dispensation (Stanley, 2006, p. 108). Further, different people have their own ways of dealing with conflict. Some people withdraw while others force their opinions. Not all types of conflict are managed correctly positing eight affective elements of conflict resolution. These elements are negativity; talkativeness, arrogance, attention seeking, arguing, withdrawing, aggression, and complaining.
There are various causes of conflict in teams. However, the main cause of conflicts in a given team is poor communication. Team leaders should play their role well and investigate the possible shortcomings of the communication channels in their teams. Team leaders should also choose suitable methods of passing on information to the rest of the team members, so as to avoid any form of miscommunication. Any alteration can change the whole meaning of the information and this can also lead to conflict (Finkelman, and Kenner, 2010, p. 343).
In relation to Stanley’s (2011, p. 189), typology of three established teams noting the high performance nature of a successful team it is clear that conflict hinders high performance. It would then mean that the team leader must develop conflict resolution skills in executing their duty as a team leader.
When linking the scenario under review, there is an obvious conflict since some members of the team seem dissatisfied with their team leader. The non-nursing staff expressed apprehension at a nurse leading the nosocomial infection investigative team must be resolved. Going by the qualifications of the new team leader, who is an experienced Registered Nurse, and having completed a course in leadership management, they are capable of solving the brewing conflict.
The most suitable approach is to enhance communication between the team leader and the team members. The leader should first take time to learn about the skills and abilities of the team members. This would help them understand why a few members are against the appointed leader. With such information, the leader will then find a suitable way to approach the two members and talk to them. This is an illustration that communication is a crucial element when solving conflicts.
Kowalski advocate that by identifying the triggering event; approaching the issue from a historical premise; assessing the value of interdependence of each member; assessing goals of the team and applying conflict resolution methods, which have been used successfully could be beneficial in this situation ((Kowalski, 2011 pp 353).
Singleness of mission
After resolving the non-nursing apprehension it is now time to concentrates on establishing singleness of mission. Kowalski, (2011, p. 354), explains that a mission is a statement that states the purpose or aim of a team. It is a dynamic intervention achieved only through communication and partnership. It has been further posited that modeling the way, inspiring a clear vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act and encouraging team members to keep to their tasks singleness of mission can be enhanced (Kowalski, 2011, p. 354; Finkelman, and Kenner, 2010, p. 271).
Singleness of mission means that a mission should be very specific and straight on point. It is a presentation of the team’s perspective team’s mission (Kowalski, and Yoder-Wise, 2006, p. 354). Team leaders should thus use their knowledge and ensure that they help formulate a suitable mission that will keep the team leaders focused on what they are supposed to do.
Leaders should always strive for unified commitment providing a collaborative climate and encouraging standards of excellence. Further they should endeavor to supply external support for staffing needs and recognition for remarkable achievements. Leadership ought to be guided by principles of integrity and fairness to every team member. As such, in linking singleness of purpose to the scenario would mean integrating team building dynamics with communication and partnership (Kowalski, 2011, p. 354).
These nosocomial infections team has to attract and select the most appropriate skills among categories of nurses, doctors and non-nursing specialists too. According to Stanley’s three basic established teams’ typology, it is important that this team leader strives to pull the team out of the struggling stage into OK as they initiate the leap towards high performance (Stanley, 2011, p. 189).
In keeping up with these three basic established groups concept to move from one level to the next, they must meet to design goals and strategies for collecting data. Singleness of mission is enacted when non-nursing officials realize that they are very important to the team and their cooperation is vital towards investigating the occurrence of nosocomial infections within the work environment. These elements are the characteristics of high performance groups.
Willingness to cooperate
Willingness to cooperate would determine whether the team is a high performing team, an OK team, or a struggling team (Stanley, 2011 p. 189). According to Kowalski, willingness to cooperate is dominated by attributes inculcated in team building. This involves designing a work environment which is informal, comfortable and relaxed. Discussions are shared by every team member and their contributions considered valuable. Objectives of the team are clear and formulated through the input of every member of the team (Kowalski, 2011, p. 348).
Team members are comfortable with disagreement and do not take them personally, but as an indication improvement in the process. The decision making is a collective process, made through democratic applications. Criticisms are constructive and focused on team performance and not individual misjudgments. Even though there is a team leader roles of leaderships can be shared among professionals within the team from time to time. This fosters a spirit of building confidence highlighting every team member as a leader in their own right. Shared leadership is very effective in initiating willingness to cooperate and work (Kowalski, 2011, p. 348).
It is also important that team members understand their assignments and the roles, which have to be enacted in completing them successfully. Confidentiality regarding feelings of insecurity must be expressed in a safe environment within the team framework. The team network must become a haven for learning and scolding. Essentially, the goal must be towards solutions rather than creating chaos and insecurity (Kowalski, 2011, p. 353). This explains how practices designed to foster social ties or group identification within an organization are effective in team building.
It is necessary that team members learn how to work together. This does not mean that they have to relate closely with each other (Kowalski, and Yoder-Wise, 2006, p. 354). What is most important is that they have good working relationships. Cooperation is important since the team members need to help each other as they play their different roles. It is also important that they cooperate so that they can work towards achieving the common goals of the team. It would be difficult to take part in various activities such as decision making if the team members are not able to work together.
As such, the mechanism whereby willingness to cooperate will be initiated among team members operating within the nosocomial infections investigation framework is to provide a peaceful work environment through a bounding culture. High performance teams articulate a synergy formula of 2+2 = 5 (Stanley, 2011, p. 189). The team leader must respect employees beyond the skills or talents they possess, since they are important individuals functioning within the organizational structure by whose initiative the team can be removed from a struggling stage towards one of high performance.
High performance teams embrace a clear purpose, and encourage active listening (Stanley, 2011, p. 189). There is compassionate inter-team behavior and transparency; members are flexible and there is a very high level of passion and commitment (Stanley, 2011, p. 189). These qualities are absent in a cross-functional or struggling team as the one mention in this scenario. Precisely, cross-functional teams resist change and hold on to old habits as can be identified in the scenario under review. In struggling teams staff members refuse to work and could establish among themselves cliques against the leaders (Stanley, 2011, p. 190). Commitment can thus be defined as the emotional compellment to do something (Kowalsky, 2011, p. 354).
Clinical leaders are experts in their field. Therefore, it can be concluded that they must be the innovators of commitment. Commitment means dedication to the cause. This dedication is exemplified through expression of high quality service throughout the team’s intervention. It should be noted that team leader or member who is not committed to their job is bound to perform poorly due to the negative attitude that they may have (Kowalski, and Yoder-Wise, 2006, p. 354). It is through commitment from members that a team could gain high performance.
Identifying the cause of recurring nosocomial infections require persistent willingness to comply with regulations. The expectation is that every team member must be diligent in reporting and documenting accurate data which can be used as a scientific basis for providing the required evidence. Epidemiologists must communicate their findings to the team leader in a professional manner using the reporting format agreed upon by the team. When specimens are to be tested for organisms this must be conducted with efficiency to avoid contamination and misrepresentations in results.
Reflecting on downward and upward communication strategies it is recommended that there must be a balance between upward and downward communication for commitment to be enforced and maintained (Finkelman, 2012, p. 379-380). For example, the team leader transmits instructions regarding polices for the nosocomial infection investigation to the team. They in turn through upward communication relate to the team leader whether these interventions are appropriate or not.
Commitment emerges after the message is transited and a response that will assist in achieving the organization and team’s goals is enacted (Finkelman, 2012, p. 379). As effective communication relay from upward to downward and downward to upward proves successful team members become committed to the task of resolving issues and redefining attitude. In relation to the given scenario, the team leader should ensure that the flow of communication with the team members is consistent and flows freely. This way, the team members feel that that they are valued and that they are a real part of the team. They, in return, will commit to their roles in the team.
The foregoing discussion offered insights into how as a clinical leader who accepted an offer by my Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) to become the team leader of an interdisciplinary team functioned to fulfill this duty. It entailed designing a team to investigate an increase in nosocomial infections in the unit. David Stanley’s (2011, p. 189) model of three established teams was applied to the discussion. Measures to upgrade this nosocomial team from struggling towards high performance were articulated showing how astute leadership can motivate a team upwards.
An obvious conflict situation aroused whereby this Nurse Unit Manger expressed concerns that a few members of the non-nursing staff were not okay about the team being led by a nursing staff memberand not one of their health care professions. It was my goal to create and lead the team efficiently through adapting strategies that foster effective conflict resolution; singleness of mission; willingness to cooperate and commitment.
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