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Effective team working in the NHS: Trust goes from bottom to top 20% in 4 years

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust – 2013

The acceleration of its effective team working initiative has helped Oxford Health to become one of the top performing English Trusts in terms of effective team working and overall staff engagement.


Why Team Based Working?
In 2012 Oxford Health resolved to ramp up efforts to roll-out more effective team working across its operational and corporate areas, building on development work previously undertaken within individual teams using the AOD evidence-based approach.

“The goal was clear,” says Professor Susan Llewellyn, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Oxford Health, “to build on the steady improvement in team working effectiveness reported in the annual staff survey since investment was first made in team working in 2009. At that time, we were performing in the lowest 20% when compared to similar Trusts.”

It’s about investing in teams
Over a period of nine months, over 70 senior team leaders underwent training in effective team leadership, allowing them to:

  • Carry out a review of team effectiveness using evidence-based diagnostic tools
  • Lead their teams on a journey towards highly effective team working
  • Provide feedback to the organisation about development and any further support requirements

The Trust’s Executive Team, the Senior Operations Management Team and Divisional Leadership Teams in two areas (Adult Mental Health and Specialist Services) also received support to review and establish effective team working. This experience of structured team development helped Senior Leaders to support their reporting managers in roll-out across the Trust.

The Trust was careful to make the connections with other interventions such as the Productive Ward Programme and established Learning and Development programmes. “It is vital that TBW is not seen as ‘just another initiative’ but as a way of enabling other interventions to be more powerful and sustainable,” says Professor Llewellyn.

And the results?
Four years on and national staff survey results show Oxford Health in the top 20% of similar Trusts in terms of effective team working, an overwhelming success story for all those involved. As the research evidence would predict, there has also been significant improvements in areas linked to effective team working such as:

  • Overall staff engagement: Highest (best) 20%
  • Staff motivation at work: Highest (best) 20%
  • Staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from staff in the last 12 months: Lowest (best) 20%

The Trust continues its drive toward improving patient and organisational outcomes through effective team based working.

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