Team Productivity - How new partners can improve team productivity

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Part two of Sophie Dunwell's look into how new partners can create strong teams in their workplace.

In Part 1 of our blog on Team Productivity, we discussed why the topic was so important for new partners. To read part one of Team Productivity, click here.

Here in Part 2, we share examples of how new partners have improved productivity in their own teams.

Reflecting on your own experience

In a session dedicated to Team Productivity in our New to Partnership Programme, we ask new partners to think about teams they have been part of – both professionally and in their personal lives – and then think about the teams that have been the most enjoyable, productive and high performing.

We ask them to reflect on those experiences and identify what it was that made them feel they were on a great team. Were there certain behaviours and things that they observed in the way people interacted within that team? What did it feel like and why was it enjoyable? This reflection has helped new partners build a sense of what works in a team setting and identify those characteristics so they can replicate them within their current teams.

Taking the time to reflect on teams that you have been part of is a great starting point to understanding how you can work better together and ultimately improve team productivity.

Improving how you make decisions as a team

Effective decision-making is a key component of a productive team. As leaders, partners will need to make a wide range of decisions about their practice - agreeing on the way forward for the practice, decisions around the workforce, new ways of working, and financial decisions (to name just a few). Yet, one of the common challenges we hear from our new partners we have supported is the ‘never-ending circle of reaching a decision’ – with time and effort often wasted leading to a feeling of unproductiveness.

One of our new GP partners is from a practice where there are several other new partners as well. He came to our session saying “We just can’t move forward! It takes ages to make a decision. We keep going around the loop because there’s always one person who might not agree”. It was a real struggle and the team found it very frustrating. This is a prime example of poor team productivity. So much time and energy can be wasted when people can’t agree on the way forward. Usually, this is because people are coming from different perspectives. So, we introduced the partner to a really simple tool called the ‘Six Thinking Hats’.

The ‘Six Thinking Hats’ tool removes all of that back-and-forth discussion loop and offers a more logical way to think as a group. The tool enables a team to explore an idea or topic from a variety of perspectives, and in ways that may differ from their preferred way of thinking. Edward de Bono, an expert on thinking and the developer of the concept, suggests that by metaphorically wearing different hats, we can direct our thinking in specific ways.

Six different coloured metaphorical hats are “put on” in turn by the team to help guide their thinking in different directions. For example, one hat gives the team a chance to think of all the risks of a certain decision while another thinks of all the benefits. This provides everybody with an opportunity to offer input so that no one voice is overpowering the others and all perspectives can be considered together by the whole team.

Simply by putting on those different hats together, a team can be guided through the decision-making process quicker with much less angst and frustration, increasing team productivity. When we shared this with the new partner he said “I’m going to use this at my next partner’s meeting! The next time we’ve got a decision to make, I’m getting the tool out and we’re all going to put our hats on.” He was so happy to have found a simple practical tool that would make a real difference in building consensus and making effective decisions together as a partnership team.

Utilising the skills and strengths of the team better

We all have too much to do and little time to do it! We know from research that when we optimise the strengths and skills of our team members, we can significantly increase engagement and overall team productivity. This approach can be really useful to explore for new partners, both in terms of getting the most out of your practice team and also personally for you as a new partner with the additional responsibilities you have to undertake.

A key benefit of our New to Partnership Programme is the opportunity to share ideas, advice, and solutions with one another. When one of our new GP partners mentioned that she typically has to manage all the QOF work at her practice, another partner shared “Actually, at my practice, our nurses do that. Why are you doing it as a GP partner?” Learning how to ‘delegate’ that task to another member of her staff meant increased team productivity for that partner’s practice staff, thereby releasing more of her time to be spent on tasks better suited to her skill level as a GP.

This empowered the partner to explore and understand their teams’ skills and strengths better and understand whether tasks were being completed by the right person, at the right time. “Maybe I can release some of my time, but it’s not just about freeing up my time and delegating it. It’s also about as a leader empowering and skilling members of my team to undertake new tasks and making sure that the most appropriate member is doing the work.

By understanding how teams can work together and by providing tools to support the team and the team working environment can enable us to increase productivity, develop and grow others and ultimately lead to better outcomes.

If you feel that you or your practice team could benefit from a training session with us here at Xytal, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation. We would love to assist you in making your practice team a productive team.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”

- Helen Keller

This blog was written by Sophie Dunwell.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” - Helen Keller