• leadership
  • efficiency
  • satisfaction
  • strategic alignment

Teamwork, more than useful, is now necessary

In healthcare, teamwork has become a necessity. Integrating knowledge as varied and as vast as the one required nowadays in healthcare is humanly impossible.

Victória Matos

Specialization brings us closer to professionalization and excellence. This increased the demand for interdisciplinary and interprofessional teams, so that we can explore the potential of the whole array of health professions.

Furthermore, the growing need for health efficiency and sustainability involves also a few other variables: the integration of new technologies; the growing demand of more informed citizens; the evolution and marketing power of competing and “alternative” solutions and services; the responsibility to contribute to the sustainability of the national health system; the challenge of modern age innovation, the constant urge to do more with less.

Teamwork has never been so inevitable. Richard Hackman, Harvard University professor and researcher in social and organizational psychology, has studied the work of various teams throughout his career, and his research consistently demonstrates an intriguing aspect: despite the potential for a number of benefits, teams are rarely able to demonstrate the expected efficiency. Problems with coordination and motivation often undermine the benefits of collaboration, as does aimless competition which impedes true progress.
We find ourselves in a dilemma today: teamwork, more than useful, is necessary.

But are our health working groups real teams?

Are we giving our professionals the tools they need to make the most of their work and time?

Are we really looking for efficiency?

Or are we just accepting solutions that are logical but incomplete?

After years of intensive research studying orchestras, and flight deck crews, Hackman defined the Team Effectiveness Model. To achieve maximum productivity, a team must focus not only on the success of its services but also on its own evolution and growth as a team and how each individual's experience is or is not rewarding for himself. That is, in addition to the end product or goal, the team must also be concerned with the growth and strengthening of its internal relationships, and more particularly with each of its members: their participation in the group and their personal satisfaction. These are the teams with the best performance.

An example of how teamwork is constantly needed in healthcare

Having this model in mind, true leadership becomes a fundamental part of effective teamwork. A good initiative that acknowledged the need for better teams and leaders in healthcare was the creation of the Health Leadership Model produced for health professionals in the British National Health System (NHS) by the NHS Leadership Academy. This evidence-based model brings together the essential dimensions for good health leadership and should be used as a guiding guide. According to this model, a good leader should be able to:

  1. define a clear work path, establishing a shared vision and aligning expectations;
  2. foster commitment and instill a sense of responsibility;
  3. value each individual, foster creativity and maximize everyone's potential;
  4. monitor work and know how to provide constructive and assertive feedback;
  5. always look for team growth, creating new training opportunities according to the needs of the team.
  6. maintain a mindset aligned with the endgoal, but without forgetting the team as a growing entity, and each professional´s unique aspirations and motivations.

Working in healthcare requires integration of knowledge, discussion and sharing of ideas, and coming up with common plans, goals and co-dependent tasks. It requires real teams. Teams that must be well-led and well-aligned towards not only the end result, but also their own growth as an entity, and the growth of each individual, whose potential must be identified, valued and maximized.

Victória Matos

Medical Doctor