Expert spotlight: Encourage teamwork to drive change

Nurse Leader Insider, December 22, 2008

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This week, expert Debra Nussdorfer, MS, RN, PMHCNS-BC, ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® coordinator at Penrose St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs, CO, shares some tips to help nurse managers enhance teamwork and create change.

Q: Can you please provide me with some simple teambuilding exercises and some examples of change mechanisms to implement in my unit?

A: Exemplary professional practice requires teamwork among nurses, collaboration with patients and their families, and interdisciplinary partnerships. Follow these strategies to improve teamwork in your unit:

  • Establish clear unit goals with staff members. Post a visible action plan in the unit identifying the various steps, responsible persons, and a timeline. Focus your efforts!
  • Choose a theme for the month (e.g., resilience, change, patient satisfaction, fall prevention) and identify team actions that contribute to success.
  • Have team members interview each other. As a result, they will discover unique characteristics and strengths in one another and spread the word.
  • Post group photos of staff around the unit—not just photos of individual staff members. Include nurses, physicians, and ancillary staff.
  • Invite all shifts to present their contributions to creating a healthy workplace. Encourage creativity, such as photos, poetry, and stories.
  • Boost collaboration between staff members from different shifts through walking rounds, collaborative educational presentations, and journal article reviews.

Use visual aids and education to support change when it occurs. For example, post a map displaying the stages of change and ask staff to mark their current position and move their name along as they progress. Acknowledge staffs' feelings, list strategies that facilitate progress, model flexibility, and hold staff accountable to take actions to move forward. Identify change agents and mentor leadership skill development. Celebrate step achievements!

Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? Email your queries to editor Keri Mucci at and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts.

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