Nursing is a deeply rewarding, yet difficult career. Nurses often struggle to balance the different roles they must play while working on a busy shift. It can be difficult to manage all of those roles without help and teamwork from others.
Ask almost any nurse or nurse manager if they feel that more teamwork would benefit their unit, and the answer will almost certainly be “yes!” While most nurses would like to enjoy a more team-based dynamic on their unit, it can be tricky to figure out where to start, and how to do it.
Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University’s RN-to-BSN program educates nurses on the importance of teamwork, and provides the leadership skills necessary to foster it. Here are five team-building strategies that nurses can use to create a collaborative nursing environment.
Discuss the Team’s Purpose
In order to work together well, a team must have a clear understanding of its purpose. As simple as it sounds, a clearly established purpose helps team members work toward a particular goal with a sense of unity.
Discussing the team purpose can be as simple as holding a five-minute meeting prior to the beginning of a shift on a weekly or monthly basis to discuss the importance of the work that the team is doing. A sense of purpose and meaning is something that helps both individuals and teams flourish.
Boost Team Trust
Teams function better when there is a sense of trust among the members. A simple and entertaining way to help foster trust is to create a bulletin board where team members each post a few pictures of themselves and their families.
Seeing pictures allows people to get to know each other easier and faster than simply chatting in passing during a busy shift.
Acknowledge and Reward Efforts
Acknowledging and praising the efforts that team members make provides positive reinforcement and helps increase team spirit. It’s important to feel that hard work is appreciated and noticed. While many workplaces regularly nominate an “employee of the month”, it’s also important to recognize individual actions on a regular basis.
A simple way to try this is to create a space for team members to post notes recognizing others for their help and strong teamwork.
Establish a Peer Mentoring Program
New nurses on a unit oftentimes feel less of a part of the team until they get to know their team members well. One way to help new team members integrate is to create a peer mentoring program.
Mentors provide valuable feedback and guidance and help answer questions that new team members may have. Mentoring should continue outside of orientation so that nurses continue to have an increased support system.
Boost Positive Relationships Within the Team
The importance of fostering positive relationships cannot be emphasized enough. Teach the importance of open communication and listening to what other team members have to say.
Reinforce that team members are responsible for looking out for their peers. If one team member is having trouble managing a difficult assignment, demanding family members, or difficult patients, volunteer to help them out.
Remind team members that even something as simple as answering that call light that’s already gone off thirty times during the shift takes one task off a nurse’s plate. Team members remember when others help them out and are likely to return the favor in the future.
A collaborative nursing environment helps nurses work more efficiently and increases job satisfaction. Nurses also report better job satisfaction when working in environments with higher levels of teamwork. A stronger team benefits both nurses and patients, and it’s important that nurses and leaders help create environments where teamwork thrives.
For more information, see Nursing Leadership Communication Strategies and Significant Changes in Nursing.
Kalisch, B. J., Lee, H., & Rochman, M. (2010). Nursing staff teamwork and job satisfaction. Journal of Nursing Management, 18(8), 938–947. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2834.2010.01153.x