Have you ever wondered why some teams are more successful than others? After 20 years of successful senior leadership and entrepreneurial experiences in health care, I have come to believe that it is a combination of time, resources, and inspiration. The elements of each of these will be discussed in narrative form below to illustrate.
I was having another meeting with Natalie. She is my director of respiratory care. A couple of weeks ago, I had asked her to get together a team to address the issue of staffing levels and a varying patient load.
I had shared the latest episodes of my life as a parent and I heard about her son's start of college when I got to my point, "So, Natalie, how is your team coming?"
"Well, it we are working through the phases of team development just like you said," she answered. "I am happy to say that we have gotten through the difficult second stage with all the anger and frustration, and we moved on to business as usual now."
"That's good," I said. "Do you think they are going to be able to improve your staffing issues?"
Her eyebrows came together and her gaze went over my right shoulder. "I am not sure," she exhaled. "I not sure if I have a good team or not."
I nodded and waited for her to continue.
"I mean what do you think it takes to make a good team?" she asked.
I love to think of myself as a teacher and coach, so its questions like this that make me nearly explode with excitement. "Are asking me what the elements of a good team are?" the words raced out of my mouth.
Natalie's darted side to side. "Yes?" she said in an unsure tone. I took her cue and took a slow breath before starting. "Basically, I believe there are three components that make up a good team."
"Should I write this down?" Natalie asked.
"Not totally necessary," I answered. "It's not too complicated."
She moved a pad and pen into place and looked at me.
"The first part is time," I said. "On the front end, you have to spend enough time explaining and training the team on how to function and what their expectations are. On the back end, you have to allow enough time for them to evolve and grow."
Natalie nodded and jotted down the word "Time".
"The second part," I continued, "is resources. This means both human resources and capital."
Natalie nodded and scribbled a few words.
"This part can be biased toward a positive outcome by properly selecting your team, and providing them with a good basis to function under, or a code of conduct."
Natalie's eyebrows raised and she scribbled some more.
"The last part is a bit more ethereal," I said. "Because it is inspiration. You have to get a group to collectively share a goal. A positive environment where people trust one another and feel like they belong. An environment where they feel they can be creative and take a certain amount of risk, but the also understand that they have certain timelines and goals to meet. It doesn't have to be homogonous. Diversity can create a complimentary environment."
Natalie was nodding and smiling. "I can see how this is all coming together," she said. "How you select your team, how you establish baselines, the code of conduct, it all makes sense. A good team does not happen by chance, it happens when you coordinate all the parts of putting it together and then managing it."
I sat back in my chair. "Very good grasshopper. The student has become the teacher."
"Then, for my sake, let me teach some more," Natalie said. "Let me recap the parts of a good team to be sure I got it."
What could I do? I said, "Okay."
"First there is time," she said rapidly. "Time to train and coach and time to evolve."
I gave a quick nod.
"Then there is the resources, both human and capital."
Again I nodded.
"And finally, there is the creation of a positive environment, the inspiration, it you will. That involves shared goals, a sense of community, a sense of mutual trust and belonging."
Now my eyebrows were elevated and I nodded in agreement. "Wow,” I said. "You got all that from what I said?"
"Yup," Natalie smiled coyly. "It is because I have a good teacher."
"Did someone pay you to say that?" I asked.
"Nope. I know you like to hear it, but it is true," she said.
My face was hot. I stood. "Well, if there are no further questions," I said. "I guess I will go."
"Thanks for the help, Boss. Have a nice day."
"You too," I said as I scurried out of her office. Thanks for reading.
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