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Building change capability through effective communication within virtual teams

by Andrew Boyd | Jan 30, 2014
Building change capability through effective communication within virtual teams

With patients at the centre of our thinking, HealthShare provides Midland DHBs an opportunity to facilitate formation and management of multidisciplinary teams of clinicians and managers from across the region to identify and drive clinical change, technology change and workforce change. All five DHBs and HealthShare supply expertise and resources for teams implementing agreed work programmes, impacting patient care through system wide reform of the way we plan, manage and deliver healthcare. Effective communication is critical to the success of designing and delivering the benefits from our many interdependent change programmes.

Healthcare is in a constant state of change with mounting fiscal pressures impacting the affordability of sustainable quality healthcare. Clinical and financial sustainability in such a challenging environment requires radical thinking and dramatic change. To get there, we have to harness the best thinking, the most productive collaborations and the active engagement of every team member in our five DHBs. To achieve this we start with the people on the front line of change —its leaders.

Leaders pave the way for change through their own behaviours and heightened interpersonal skills, to be able to listen effectively, promote collaboration, develop high-performance teams and inspire big, bold change. Teams are at the heart of everything organisations achieve. Effective teams are better at understanding the thinking strengths of their individual members. Better thinking leads to better performance.

Effective communication is vital not just in direct interactions with patients, but in ensuring team members interact with each other in the most productive way to reach better decisions and better outcomes. In the high-stress environment of a large health system, successful communication can lead to more efficient, focused teams and minimise the distractions and misunderstandings that can potentially impact the quality of care delivered.

Research has shown that individuals can enhance their communication, productivity, problem-solving, creativity and other interpersonal development by understanding their own and others’ thinking preferences. As facilitators of Action Groups and Clinical Networks, HealthShare wanted to harness the power of the regions combined intellectual horsepower to solve the problem of sustainability of healthcare. HealthShare sought a tool set to enabler “virtual” teams to be more successful.

With stakeholders from many professional disciplines, cultures, backgrounds and experiences, HealthShare needed:

  • a validated, research-backed assessment instrument that would provide the baseline of knowledge about each individual team members thinking preferences
  • a model and approach that would be easy to understand, remember and apply
  • a method and common language to help leaders integrate their thinking styles with team members for more effective communication
  • an approach that demonstrated how thinking styles impact communication, productivity and teamwork, and as a result, improved health and equity for all populations, improved quality safety and patient satisfaction, and best value for the public health system.

The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) is at the core of Herrmann International’s Whole Brain Model™, which is based on decades of research on the brain and thinking. Of particular interest to HealthShare, the HBDI is a strongly validated assessment tool—it has been researched and studied for over 28 years, and all of the validation studies have been positive.

Herrmann’s research showed that everyone is capable of flexing to less preferred thinking styles and learning the necessary skills to diagnose and adapt to the thinking preferences of others. He found that presenting information in a way that recognises, respects and is compatible with different preferences, is critical to effectively communicating with and meeting the needs and expectations of those one interacts with in the work environment.

The HealthShare team was introduced to the HBDI instrument in a series of tailored workshops in late 2013.

Participants revealed not just enhanced communication but also interpersonal understanding, creativity and team effectiveness.

“As change leaders, it is our responsibility to create an atmosphere that encourages colleagues to participate in our change programmes by listening to and learning from all members of the patient care team”

“The workshops provided practical ways the Whole Brain Model helps us communicate  more effectively.”

“By building a greater understanding about how colleagues process information, this will improve communication, working relationships, camaraderie, collaboration and creativity.”

“We now understand how team members can leverage differences in thinking styles and actually use them to the team’s advantage. It also underscored the fact that no one is strictly a ‘type’—everyone has the ability to flex beyond their comfort zones and think in different ways.”

“Whole Brain Thinking has helped us improve communication because now we understand how others need to receive information. This knowledge helps us to rearrange how we communicate to be more effective.”

“Whole Brain Thinking can be used to fine tune processes we use as a group when conducting everyday business or when approaching new projects.”

For more information on Whole Brain Thinking click on this link to a short and informative video. If you have any questions about our experience with Whole Brain Thinking please do hesitate to talk to your HealthShare contact or our CEO.