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Team interaction challenges for medical leadership


Background Team interaction in medical practice directly affects patients, organisations and individual doctors. This study aimed to gather a set of quantitative data to identify (1) the aspects of team performance where doctors are comfortable and (2) where to focus development activities.

Methods Doctors were invited to undertake a 1-hour online course exploring concepts related to team formation, performance and dysfunction. This included completing the Healthy Team Member Self-Assessment questionnaire, designed specifically to collect the desired quantitative data. Questionnaire responses were then collated as a survey and analysed in line with the study’s aims.

Results 202 participants completed the questionnaire including 45 consultants, 85 doctors in training, 24 locums, 3 medical directors, 6 general practitioners and 35 other doctors. Five practice or hospital managers and five other healthcare professionals also submitted results. Collective analysis of the participants’ self-assessment reveals a number of behaviours where doctors indicate improvements are required, including: 45% are not challenging or giving feedback to their colleagues, 42% not proactively seeking honest feedback, 40% not discussing progress towards goals and 39% not discussing support they require to fulfil their role. In addition, unhelpful disparities of perception within teams are suggested. A Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test confirmed a statistically significant difference between the 33% of consultants who state their team is in the unproductive ‘Storming’ stage of development and just 12% of all other participants stating the same (P=0.0008). Feelings of ‘I am committed but others are not’ and ‘I am willing to help others but they are not willing to help me’ are also suggested.

Conclusions The author relates these issues to the duty of candour, proposing that both individual doctors and medical leadership have responsibilities to ensure improvements. In particular, individual doctors should ensure ongoing development in team interaction skills, and medical leadership must foster the appropriate culture for individuals to function within real teams.

  • clinical leadership
  • communication
  • leadership assessment
  • medical leadership
  • organisational effectiveness

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