Small teams whether they are Doctors or different health care professionals in primary or secondary care often find it difficult to address some of the challenges, compromises and conflicts of working together. External facilitation helps focus and direct the team to work through its challenging issues, naming and having ‘courageous conversations’ about what before had been known but not addressed. It is surprising how often teams who just focus on the task avoid these issues and how a facilitator who attends to the processes that govern how a team work can help issues to be aired and resolved. When addressed the energy in the team invariably increases and tasks that previously seemed beyond the capacity of the group can often be meaningfully addressed. When difficulties have been ignored or suppressed for some time it can take a little time to help the group become safe enough time to address the underlying issues. Once this is addressed team members often comment on how much more supportive and enjoyable the team is and how rapidly the team is able to resolve things that have been taking up alot of time and emotion.
After working through an issue or two with a facilitator often the team realises it can trust itself to address these issues or recognise when external facilitation will help. Teams often respond with greater engagement and efficiency. Often individuals describe these better functioning teams as becoming more productive, being more enjoyable and a place where they feel more supported.
Individuals understanding and sharing responsibility for how the team works increases ‘buy in’ and often goes along with a shift in the culture of a team. Examples of shifts that can happen include naming and redistributing roles in a group, recognising how scapegoating can be a way to avoid shared responsibility, addressing neglected issues, thinking strategically and exploring how the group can change how it works according to the task. It frequently builds the capacity of both individuals and the team to take on new challenges and the resilience of both individuals and the team when working in difficult situations.
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