This Tool Kit item focuses on three key areas for maintaining high performance on interprofessional teams: balancing task and process, understanding team dynamics, and team cohesiveness.
Balancing Task and Process
In order to produce optimal patient outcomes, it is critical that interprofessional health care teams attend to the task at hand, as well as the processes needed to complete the task. High-performing teams create an appropriate balance between task and process.
Task: “A usually assigned piece of work often to be finished within a certain time” (Merriam-Webster, 2014)
Process: “A series of actions or operations conducing to an end” (Merriam-Webster, 2014)
Dangers and Pitfalls
Results of the group’s work may be poor if the team emphasizes either task or process at the expense of the other. An appropriate balance between task and process is important in making decisions, based on available information. The dangers involved in focusing too heavily on either the task or the process are described below:
Too Task Oriented:
The process of considering alternative causes and interventions may be cut short, resulting in less than the best decision
Participation in the team process may be discouraged, leading some to be unsupportive of the decision
The team may believe it is being efficient when it may not be, particularly if decisions and results need to be revisited and reworked
Too Process Oriented:
The team can lose sight of the task and begin to consider the discussion the product, leading to failure to complete the task
The team can run out of time, forcing a decision to be made that may be less than the best
Decisions may simply not be made, leading to potential failure of the team
Some team members may become frustrated with the lack of closure and stop their participation and support
Tools to Balance Task and Process
There are several approaches that can be taken to ensure that the team does not become too immersed in the process, or too focused on completing the task, at the expense of being diligent in their work. Suggestions for accomplishing this include the following:
Focusing on the task:
Focusing on the Process:
Definition: “Team dynamics are the unconscious, psychological forces that influence the direction of a team’s behavior and performance. Team dynamics are created by the nature of the team’s work, the personalities within the team, their working relationships with other people, and the environment in which the team works” (Myers, 2013).
This is the “here-and-now” experience of the team—how the team is functioning, the quality of the team members’ relationships, and the team and members’ apprehensions and aspirations
Team dynamics are affected by the following:
Team cohesiveness is critical to team success. It is vital that all team members share the same values, ethics, and goals when providing care to an individual or a population.
Cohesiveness: “The extent to which team members stick together and remain united in the pursuit of a common goal…a team is said to be in a state of cohesion when its members possess bonds linking them to one another and to the team as a whole” (Molnau, 2013).
The concept of organizational justice can be a helpful guide when attempting to start a high functioning team or when diagnosing and correcting problematic team performance.
Definition: Organizational justice is “the extent to which employees perceive workplace procedures, interactions and outcomes to be fair in nature. These perceptions can influence attitudes and behavior for good or ill, in turn having a positive or negative impact on employee performance and the organization’s success” (Baldwin, 2006)
Organizational Justice is strongly correlated with the well-being of team members. It is characterized by decision-making fairness, transparency, and relational processes of respect, mutuality, and decency. Team members subconsciously ask themselves, “Is being in this team good for my self-esteem?”
Factors Affecting Cohesiveness
Methods and Tools to Promote Cohesion
The following steps can be taken to promote group cohesion:
Communicating the “we” work and accomplishments results in a more cohesive team
According to Yukelson (n.d.):
Myers, S.P. (2013). Definition of team dynamics. Team Technology. Retrieved fromhttp://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/team/dynamics/definition/
Molnau, D.C. (2013). High-performance teams: understanding team cohesiveness. Six Sigma. Retrieved fromhttp://www.isixsigma.com/implementation/teams/high-performance-teams-und…
Baldwin, S. (2006). Organisational Justice. Brighton, UK: Institute for Employment Studies. Retrieved from http://www.employment-studies.co.uk/pdflibrary/mp73.pdf
Task. (2014). In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/task
Process. (2014). In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/process
Merrit, B.O., Morrison, L., Satterwhite, M.W., Smith, A., Thomason, G., & Thompson, J. (eds.) (n.d.). The focus-PDCA strategy. Central State Hospital. Retrieved fromhttp://www.centralstatehospital.org/policy/plan8.10A.pdf
Johnson, J.K. (2009). The health care interdisciplinary context: a focus on the microsystem context. Collaboration Across the Disciplines in Health Care. Freshman, B., Rubino, L.G., & Chassiakos, Y.R. (eds). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. Retrieved fromhttp://samples.jbpub.com/9780763755584/55584_CH02_5284.pdf
Yukelson, D. (n.d.). Group cohesion and team building. Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved from http://www.mascsa.psu.edu/dave/Group-Cohesion-and-Team-Building.pdf