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Three Dimensions of Medical Practice Teamwork


In order to become effective at their jobs, practice staff members must have trust in each other and faith in the abilities of practice leadership.

Cohesion is the intense bonding of employees, strengthened over time, that results in absolute trust. It is characterized by the subordination of self and an intuitive understanding of the collective actions of your medical practice and of the importance of teamwork, resulting in increased productivity. Cohesion is achieved by fostering positive peer pressure and reinforcing your practice's core values. Cohesion provides practice staff with supportive relationships that buffer stress and increases their ability to accomplish the mission or task. Strong staff cohesion results in increased productivity and the achievement of greater successes.

There are three dimensions of cohesion: individual morale, confidence in the medical practice's capability, and confidence in practice leaders. In combination, these dimensions dramatically affect the effectiveness of your practice.

1. Individual morale

As a leader, you must know your staff and look out for their welfare. Leaders who understand that morale, only morale, will bring success are more likely to keep morale high among employees. A high state of morale, in turn, enhances practice cohesion and productivity.

2. Confidence in the practice's capability

Medical staff members' confidence in their practice's effectiveness is gained through training. The longer employees work and train together in a practice, the more effective they become and the more confident they are in their practice's capabilities. They know what their practice can do because they have worked together before. Keeping staff members together through practice cohesion is a workforce multiplier. Success in healthcare can be directly attributed to a practice's overall confidence in its level of performance. Of course, the opposite holds true; lack of cohesion, lack of confidence, and poor performance preordain a practice's failure.

3. Confidence in unit leaders

Confidence in practice leaders' abilities is earned as staff members spend time in the company of their supervisors and learn to trust them. Practice leaders must earn the respect of their staff, and doing so takes time. As staff members develop confidence, based on their prior achievements, in their practice's ability to accomplish tasks, they also develop confidence in their leaders as they work and train together.

Ardant du Picq, a French Army officer and military theorist of the mid-nineteenth century, perhaps summed up the need for cohesion best. "Pride exists only among people who know each other well, who have esprit de corps, and company spirit. There is a necessity for an organization that renders unity possible by creating the real individuality of the company."

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