Connecting with your team every day has never been more important

Among the many responsibilities of frontline health care leaders, activities that help the team work as a highly-functioning unit are critically important. Understanding the dynamics of the team as a whole is essential to nurturing the teamwork that improves quality, safety and patient experience.

For over three decades, the health care industry has faced rapid change and unique operational, financial and market challenges. But at no time in recent memory have the demands on health care leaders  been more exhausting and protracted than in 2020. This blog is installment #1 in our series, Leadership in the Time of Coronavirus, which takes a fresh look at our T.E.A.M. leadership model through a COVID-19 lens.

Each component of the T.E.A.M. leadership modelTeach, Empower, Align and Mentor – plays a different but interrelated role in developing the skills and practices that can transform the workplace climate and better support staff. The Teach module recognizes that a great manager is a great teacher, leading in a way that helps staff learn from him/her, from one another, and from the customer/patients they serve.

The Huddle/Stand-up solves problems real-time and keeps teams connected

Every day on every shift, the team huddle helps staff learn from and support one another. Because things are changing so rapidly, an effective team huddle helps each staff member feel better prepared to deal with the challenges that day may throw at him/her.
If you are managing a team virtually, a quick huddle via Zoom or a similar platform is even more important as the pandemic wears on. Even when team members have what they think they need to be individually successful, priorities change. Solutions developed by a team are inevitably more effective — and more enthusiastically embraced. Beyond team problem-solving, individuals need the human connection across their team to stay motivated, energized and inspired.
Following are five tips to make huddles more productive and beneficial, whether during the pandemic or when things get back to “normal.”

Short and Sweet

One of the most common ways for huddles to go haywire is for them to become mini staff meetings. Limiting the huddle to 5 minutes keeps the conversation focused, the energy level high, and impatience to a minimum.

Stand Up!

Many industries call a team huddle the “Stand Up” meeting. And perhaps that name is more appropriate since it describes one of the key characteristics of success. When everyone stays standing, it clearly signals that the meeting will be brief. Standing vs. sitting also keeps the physical and mental energy and sense of urgency higher.

One Day at a Time

Effective huddles anticipate immediate roadblocks or challenges and problem-solve around them. Leaders of course need to deal with longer term issues, too. But the huddle is the wrong place to get into extended, more complex discussions.

Dialogue, not Monolog

The best huddles encourage input from all members of the team. One of my favorite success stories from team huddles comes from a director at Summa Health in Akron, OH. She explained that she often came to the team ready to solve a particular staffing or looming process issue. What she heard was, “the village has it handled!” You know the huddle philosophy is working when frontline team members form their own stand-up meeting to tackle an issue. That kind of cooperative, empowered problem-solving only happens when all staff are encouraged to contribute.

End on a High Note

Just like an inspiring coach, great leaders wrap up huddles and send their teams out on the field with a message of confidence, trust, and appreciation. This gratitude and faith in the team has never been more important, as staff members’ resilience is wearing thin.
In our next post, we’ll look at the Team Meeting and why it is even more important as the COVID-19 crisis worsens.