Fresh Thinking – team working

When it comes to building a highly effective team, much of the advice given tends to focus on those in office or factory environments. If you are crying out for something more relevant to clinical settings, we have some suggestions…

  • Work to a common purpose. Discuss, agree and write down this common purpose or ‘mission statement’. It could be about being a champion of preventative healthcare, every day care at low prices, providing gold standard first opinion clinical care, or matching care to the client’s budget. Having an understanding of what you want to achieve ensures everyone acts together with this ethos in mind. Be prepared to revisit this ‘purpose’ from time to time to see if it is still a good ‘fit’ with how you work.
  • Understand there are teams within teams and respect their boundaries. Do the vet nurses have team meetings of their own as well as with other practice staff? And what about front of house personnel – do they also have a safe space in which to discuss any concerns and goals?
  • Think about using other media to keep team contact going across different shift patterns and rotas. This could be a closed group on social media, using Google Docs or Dropbox for files, or creating groups for instant messaging.
  • Work to increase individual wellbeing within the team. Create an atmosphere where people feel supported and valued. Recognise people’s strengths and encourage open communication. Host a wellbeing evening with healthy snacks or train one member of staff in counselling skills – those skills could be useful to support clients making difficult decisions about their pet, as well as staff.
  • Reviewing cases that have gone particularly well can help the team to learn and gives everyone a reason to provide positive feedback. It doesn’t have to be a complex case – even something as simple as ‘how I approach a booster vaccination’ can provide opportunities to learn and improve. Cases that could have gone better should be reviewed without attributing blame and looked at as an opportunity to learn. Don’t forget to celebrate the small successes together, as well as the big ones.
  • Have a robust induction programme to help new members of staff to feel like part of the team as quickly as possible. Think about providing a ‘buddy’ of a similar age and level of experience, as well as a mentor.
  • Don’t assume that a yearly appraisal with a team building objective is enough. Consider a variety of different activities – lunch and learns, events away from the practice, or team dinners. Teams have to be nurtured and need constant attention.