Capitalizing on diverse strengths and styles

Nurse Leader Insider, March 22, 2018

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Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from the Nurse Manager's Guide to Retention and Recruitment.

Individuals and teams bring unique competencies, skills sets, strengths, and perspectives to care delivery environments. Nurse managers must assume accountability and responsibility for unit and/or department outcomes in the face of competing priorities, rapid cycle change, emerging technologies, and complex care delivery environments. Putting together high-performing teams to accomplish collaborative work to achieve strategic goals is both challenging and rewarding. Open communication, inclusion, trust, and conflict resolution are vital components for any diverse team’s success (Moore, Everly, and Bauer, 2016). Most teams in healthcare environments are not only composed of multiple disciplines but also include diverse generations. In order for teams to achieve desired outcomes, they must value the individual strengths and perspectives each team member brings to the shared work.

Avoiding stereotypes and discovering what team members have in common can prove an important starting point in building team relationships. Encourage team members to stretch beyond stating the obvious during initial meetings when teams are beginning these collaborative work efforts. Moore and colleagues suggest several team-building activities that can assist teams in developing trust, opening communication lines, and facilitating cooperation among team members. While not every teamwork effort is going to have the luxury of time for team building when accomplishing short-term tasks, allocating some time for such activities may facilitate team relationships and ensure the team’s success in achieving shared goals. There are numerous ice breakers and team-building activities that can assist teams in building relationships and discovering individual strengths. The following are a few activities included in Moore, Everly, and Bauer’s article:

  • “Ask Me”—where team members respond to questions about their first car, popular music group or song from high school, and favorite teenage Saturday leisure activities.
  • “What do we have in common?”—stretching beyond the obvious professions, work settings, gender, etc., to include personal stories about pets, vacation spots, sports, music, books, movies, or other shared things in common.
  • “The Mine Field”—requires more preparation, time, gathering required objects and space in the room; involves teamwork in pairs with one blindfolded individual being guided by a partner from the team to navigate around the room avoiding obstacles or completing an assigned task, such as finding an object or pouring liquid into a container, etc.

Building on individual strengths can engage multiple team members in solving unit, department, and/or organizational issues, streamlining interdepartmental processes and efficiencies, and strengthening team relationships.

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