Profiles of Effective Teams

What Does an Effective Health Care Team Look Like?
Common Purpose: Team members generate a common and clearly defined purpose that includes collective interests and demonstrates shared ownership
Measurable Goals: Teams set goals that are measurable and focused on the team’s task
Effective Leadership: Teams require effective leadership that set and maintain structures, manage conflict, listen to members and trust and support members. It is important that teams agree to share leadership functions
Effective Communication: Good teams share ideas and information quickly and regularly, keep written records as well as allow time for team reflection
Good Cohesion: Cohesive teams have a unique and identifiable team spirit and commitment and have greater longevity as team members want to continue working together
Mutual Respect: Effective teams have members who respect the talents and beliefs of each person in addition to their professional contributions. In addition, effective teams accept and encourage a diversity of opinion among members

Characteristics of Effective Interprofessional Health Care Teams
Team members make the health of the patient are their highest priority

  • These needs guide decision-making and team functioning
  • Team members should be asking themselves, “How is what I am doing now helping our patient to become healthy?”

The team utilizes shared leadership

  • Members are interdependent on each other—they acknowledge and embrace each other’s expertise
  • Additionally, members are ready and willing to share their own, unique knowledge and ideas to solve problems

Effective communication with patients, their families, and each other—including

  • Mechanisms to share information among each other
  • A common language—to clarify confusing terms and jargon

Each team member knows and understands the roles and scope of each other team member’s practice

  • Each team member reinforces other team members’ interventions
  • Within their scope of practice, each team member is able to provide each other’s interventions with the patient

The team works together to deliver patient care—as a team, everyone is responsible for everything
The team is not an isolated entity—it is effected by external environmental factors, and works within and between organizations
A good team member will trust, respect, and recognize the contributions of each of the other members
Unclear expectations among team members at the beginning of team formation could lead to

  • Conflict
  • Role ambiguity
  • Responsibility overload

Regularly scheduled meeting times
Methods to oversee the delivery of plans, evaluate outcomes, and make improvements based on the results

Team Life Cycle
Bruce Tuckman (1965) proposed a widely accepted theory on the life process of a team. In the original article, Tuckman argued there are five stages of team development: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. These stages are listed in detail below (EHPIC, 2012; WHO, 2007; Drexel, n.d.):

Exploratory stage
Determining relationships
Beginning to determine acceptable behavior

  • Rely on safe, patterned behavior
  • Look to group leader for guidance
  • Have a desire for acceptance

Become oriented to the task

Potentially tumultuous stage
Confrontations may occur
Tension, lack of unity, perceived hierarchy
Emotional reactions to task at hand
Characterized by conflict, resulting from organizing for the task
Questions/conflicts regarding

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Group rules
  • Reward system
  • Evaluation
  • Leadership
  • Group structure

Establishing (new) group ground rules
Accepted code of conduct
Wide range or scope
Explicit versus implicit discussion of development
Shared leadership develops
Members identify with one another
Development of trust and group belonging

Focus on task and outcomes
Group identity occurs
Essential challenges of management of group dynamics
Members may work independently, in subgroups, or as a total unit
Interdependence in personal relations and problem solving
Most productive stage of group development

Associated with group dissolution, feeling of loss
May also occur with loss of team member
Pay attention to life cycle
Termination of task behaviors
Disengagement from relationships

Drexel University. (n.d.). 5 stages of group development. Office of Campus Activities – Creating Excellent Organizations. Retrieved from Development.pdf
Kates, N. (2009). The Team Building Resource Guide for Family Health. Government of Ontario. Retrieved from
Grant, R.W. (1995). Interdisciplinary Collaborative Teams in Primary Care: A Model Curriculum and Resource Guide. San Francisco, CA: Pew Health Professions Commission
Mickan, S. and Rodger, S. (2005). Effective health care teams: a model of six characteristics developed from shared perceptions. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 19(4), 358-370.
Tuckman, B.W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384-399.
University of Toronto-Centre for Interprofessional Education. (2012). Educating Health Professionals in Interprofessional Care (EHPIC). Conference, June 18-22, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
World Health Organization. (2007). Cancer: Planning Module. Retrieved from
World Health Organization. (2011). WHO patient safety curriculum guide – multi-professional edition. Retrieved from