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Using respected tools and techniques to help troubled teams

NHS 24: Health Information and Self Care Advice for Scotland – 2013

Constant change and limited OD resources can leave team leaders and teams feeling neglected but when it comes to support, NHS 24 takes the view that every little helps.


Why Team Based Working?
An RCN initiative to improve working relationships identified more effective communication as far and away the biggest need at NHS 24. Everyone wanted more contact time and more say. Looking at the material on Team Based Working (TBW), OD leads immediately saw how well it could work, even in the context of a Call Centre.

They piloted TBW with a restructured group, one with a brand new head, all sorts of issues and very little common identity – ideal for the Team Journey. The group was desperately in need of clear structure, identity, objectives and role clarity which would all help to improve communication, helping everyone within the team to know who was doing what to achieve the team’s purpose.

Coming together wasn’t easy but the first session helped the new head to plan, prioritise and set some direction for her service. Before long they became a cohesive team, joined up in their approach and working together towards key goals. As a result, the seven development areas of the Affina Team Journey became a way of organising all team interventions.

How is it used?
Improving team performance at NHS 24 is largely reactive.

Teams that ask for help are evaluated to determine exactly what they need. They begin their Team Journey by working with the OD facilitator to understand the principles behind TBW and why it is important. Next the team is assessed against key performance criteria. According to OD lead Catriona Macmillan, “the diagnostic tool is just brilliant – just so good at getting things out in the open.” Feedback from team members therefore forms the basis of the action plan so providing a very powerful link between assessment and development.

In one Directorate, teams are assessed every 6 months. All the scores are entered on a database and progress is measured. Managers and team leaders appreciate the transparency and, in contrast to the staff survey, the ability to pinpoint what has really made a difference at individual team level. Sometimes scores shift just a little but, so long as this is in the right direction, it can be enough to reinvigorate the team.

Change is the biggest challenge
With the whole organisation facing enormous and continuous change, intranet-based materials go some way to helping managers to develop their own teams with guidance from the Team Journey tools when a facilitated session is impossible.

It seems the AOD material is certainly making a difference. “People respect it right away and know it’s good stuff,” says Catriona Macmillan. “In my dream world, every team, every manager in the organisation would have team effectiveness as one of their key performance measures so that it gets the attention it deserves.”


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