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14th March 2018

Team Performance: Collaboration and Enabling Positive Change

Challenge

Impact were commissioned to deliver two workshops for Senior Managers in the IM&T department of an NHS Trust. The aim was to enable the team to tackle challenges in the financial year, and to increase team performance and collaboration. The team had a history of challenges with alleged bullying and counter grievances, impacting their confidence and engagement. The Trust wanted to provide an intervention to enable colleagues to share their concerns and develop strategies and actions for dealing with the aftermath of their experiences and take their learning into the future to provide improved services. This would ultimately contribute to patient care.

Action

We held several conversations with the client to understand the issues and what they wanted to achieve as a result of the intervention. Hence, we agreed with the client that at the end of the process delegates would have:

1. Defined values that are shared by the team
2. Improved ability in team working and sound understanding of vision and values
3. Reflected on the challenging times in an open and frank manner, shared their feelings with colleagues and agreed how to move on in a positive way
4. Identified what helps and hinders the team in the way that they work together
5. Started the process of action planning for working in a collaborative manner, engaging with the workforce to ensure leadership is demonstrated at every level in the organisation and developing an inclusive and positive culture.

We discussed the use of techniques to enable the team to collectively identify their shared values and to create the Directorate’s vision for the future. Given the requirement to help the team to move on in a positive way and also to tackle potential challenges in the year ahead, we suggested a process to facilitate action planning towards this shared vision. Encouraging the senior managers to engage in setting vision and strategy together meant greater collaboration and participation to achieve it going forward. Research evidence suggests that this bottom up approach is highly effective in engaging employees in forthcoming plans or changes and helping to air any concerns or views in a collective and open way.

Workshops

Two interactive workshops took place. These used a range of exercises including individual and group reflection as well as small and large group discussions. The design incorporated a recent team success story, as well as giving each individual the opportunity to reflect on their negative experience of the past. Taking an appreciative approach, the workshops helped the managers to identify what they had done well and how they could learn from previous experience, in order to build resilience and be prepared for any future challenges.

The first workshop focused on learning from the past and creating a new vision and values to underpin how they would work together in the future. A second workshop focused on action planning to achieve the vision, building resilience and exploring reactions to change.

The design process involved working with the client to share ideas and agree the exercises and programme. Discussions took place in between the two workshops to review progress.

Outcomes

Initial reactions on the day showed that 100% of delegates reported the exercises and information provided in the workshops were useful in the helping them to:

• Define team values
• Understand the vision for the future
• Understand what helps and hinders the team during times of change
• Start action planning in line with the vision and positive view of the future

Furthermore, 71% of delegates said that they were very likely to use what they had learnt in the workshops. Examples of the things that they said they had learned and what they would do included:

• Communicate the vision & values to the team in meetings
• A lot of changes imminent so tools will prove useful when working through these changes
• Embed values in work
• Ask the team about their values, listen, engage, empower
• Positive challenge
• More aware of barriers and behaviours and how to manage them. Clearer vision of what is required to move forward.

Online survey

We carried out an online survey after 8 months. This measured the longer term impact of the intervention and any subsequent behaviour change. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Overall, 100% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they understood the vision and values of the team. 100% agreed or strongly agreed that as a team, they have made progress towards achieving the vision and action plan. 88% agreed or strongly agreed that team working had improved since the workshops. 75% agreed or strongly agreed that they feel positive about the future. No one felt that the objectives weren’t met.

Examples of behaviour change included:

• Team meetings, working with the team looking at ideas collaboratively
• Ensure that working practices we are working to and implementing work in line with the vision
• Feedback to my team on a regular basis on future plans for the dept and our vision for the future – what we are working towards
• Improved communication within the team in terms of sharing of the overall vision of the Directorate

This shows that the intentions of the delegates after the workshop were still being realised 8 months later, demonstrating a long-term impact.

Behaviour Change – Team Level

When asked if they had noticed differences in the wider team/department since the workshop, 63% said yes. Examples included:

• Staff working more autonomously and significant confidence improvement in at least one of the team.
• More easily working together, understanding each other’s limitations and issues
• Having teams now split more on 2 sites, cohesive working has still been retained
• Working together better

Of those who answered ‘no’, reasons given related to the location and proximity of the teams and work pressures throughout the Trust, which have been a barrier or meant less contact with the wider Directorate.

Overall, the evaluation results suggested that the intervention was very successful. The managers reported behaviour change including increased collaboration and understanding, sharing and communication of the vision and values. This has also trickled down to the managers’ teams via regular team meetings.

Good progress has been made towards implementing the vision and action plan that the team produced, as suggested by the client. This also revealed some of the wider impact that improved collaboration has had e.g. “customers are seeing improvements, something holistic”.

Conclusion

This case study demonstrates the positive impact that team development can have, experienced by both the commissioner and delegates who attended the workshops. The theory that underpinned this work aimed to help delegates to move on from negative experience and create a positive view of the future. It also helped promote openness and collaboration and understand how they can work more effectively together. Engagement and collaboration started in the workshops and continued several months on. The changes have made a positive impact, which can be seen outside of the Directorate in the wider Trust.

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