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APP Leadership: 4 Keys to Building a Team

Posted on June 2, 2020   |   by   |   Advanced Practice Structure, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills APPs, Professional Development

Author Jill Gilliland, President Melnic
Editor Elizabeth Moran, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC

More and more, healthcare institutions are recognizing the added benefit of strong Advanced Practice Provider (APP) leadership within their team structures. Leadership opportunities for APPs to collaborate with nursing and physician leads are on the rise. As such, it is important as ever for APPs to learn to effectively create and manage strong teams. 

One approach to APP team building is for APP leaders to provide individual team member assessments and to combine the data to build effective teams in order to accomplish institutional goals. Leveraging individual and collective strengths is key to creating a safe and productive culture with motivated team members. Teams with clearly established and agreed-upon goals, self-understanding, knowledge of other team members’ strengths, accountability, and clear responsibilities, will function to the best of their ability.

Team dynamics

APP leadership assessments used to internally reflect on an individual and collective team dynamics provides leaders guidance when building teams and assigning goals.  Leaders, with the input of the team, can determine the right mix of traits on each team that aligns with a specific goal. Assessments evaluate the strengths, skills, communication styles, assumptions, and energy of each individual. This information allows the APP team to develop solutions and approach conflict resolution based on knowledge of each team member strengths and characteristics. 

For example,  APP leaders, in collaboration with each APP team member, can create individual team member assessments. Through the knowledge of each team member and knowledge of how cohesive and effective teams are built, the APP leader can select teams to match goals. Sub-teams should be composed of about four individuals who possess different, but complementary skills to analyze issues, talk with stakeholders, and envision a solution. Additionally, through effective team training, team members can better appreciate and understand different styles and contributions of each member. When and if conflicts arise, team members can embrace differences as part of the path to a better solution.

Measuring team performance

APP team performance starts with each individual.  Individuals who understand how they lead, communicate, and what motivates and demotivates them, can work more effectively within the greater team structure to achieve institutional goals. After the parameters of the goals are agreed upon then the team can establish milestones and timelines.  The next step is for the team to identify each members responsibility for each milestone based on their strengths.  Through the team’s insights into member’s styles and motivators they can communicate, focus on appropriate tasks, and resolve conflict effectively to reach their individual and collective goals.  Ultimately, a high level of insight and transparency allows teams to set realistic goals and improve effectiveness. [1} Team performance can be accountable and measured by tracking milestones, due dates, team feedback, and progress towards goal completion.

Strengths, trust, and accountability

Teams that possess self-knowledge individually and collectively are effective at resolving conflict, making decisions, managing time, and distributing resources. Team leaders can align the abilities of each member to address specific problems that need to be solved.  When teams are aligned around each individual’s styles and the collective style of the team, then people will work from their strengths and learn from one another. This alignment will foster a culture that leverages strengths, builds trust, and operates with accountability. 

Team infrastructure for success

If the team becomes aligned around self-knowledge, common goals, and mutual accountability, they become more effective. For example, when members of the team who prefer analytical problem-solving work with members who are highly intuitive, together they can find the best, holistic solution. This comes from each person understanding and valuing what the other member provides. This level of collaboration takes work and trial and error, and is beneficial to find optimal solutions.

A team is best constructed with members who are open, appreciate the contributions of one another, and understand the needs of certain circumstances.  Through this process, leaders have the opportunity to work with the team to identify goals and the right people can work together while maintaining confidence that members have the skills to resolve problems and get the job done. With each member working on the goals that utilize his or her strengths, members will have the energy to accomplish more goals with a higher level of satisfaction. 

Effective teams are designed around strengths, self-knowledge, and the collective knowledge of leadership and communication styles.  They are also more likely to work efficiently and collaboratively to successfully achieve goals. 

If you would like to discuss how to assess, hire, or to grow your APP team, please contact Jill Gilliland, President, Melnic. jill@melnic.com

References:

1.Kapu, A.N. and Kleinpell, R. (2013), Developing nurse practitioner associated metrics for outcomes assessment. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 25: 289-296. doi:10.1111/1745-7599.12001

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