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Strengthening team working to support culture change

The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH) – 2017

Team development, a work in progress

The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH)RBCH provides health care for the residents of Bournemouth and East Dorset with a total population of around 550,000, rising during the summer months.

When RBCH launched its culture change programme in 2016, the Board insisted on an evidence-based approach.

“I knew Michael West had established a clear link between effective team working and better care,” explains Nicola Hartley, Director of OD and Leadership, “so I asked him to come along and share his research as part of our cultural change programme.”

“It was compelling, so when our Change Champions presented Strengthening Team Working as one of only four Trust objectives for 2017/18, the Board readily agreed.”

“Our aim was to develop best practice skills in teams at all levels. We chose the Affina Team Journey because it’s based on strong evidence that links to everything we are trying to do in the Trust in terms of culture change.”

The approach

RBCH designed its programme around the Affina Team Journey, a practical online ‘tool-kit’ for team leaders to use with their teams.

Before team leaders signed up, a cohort of 17 staff from across the Trust were trained as AOD Team Coaches.

Forming an internal coaching service, this group provided vital support for team leaders as they led their teams through the journey at their own pace, over a period of four to six months.

This tried and tested coaching approach was designed to have the greatest impact on performance outcomes.

Teams took part across the Trust, including the Senior Leadership Team led by Chief Executive, Tony Spotswood:

“Team development work is not optional or an add-on; we see it as integral to a healthy, successful organisation.”

Having experienced the benefits of the programme first hand as team leader, Tony was really supportive, so much so that he is now part of the second cohort of Team Coach trainees.

The feedback so far

Snapshot of Team Coach observations

Alignment with organisational goals
Abigail Daughters reports that staff recognise a good fit between the team journey and the overall vision and objectives of the Trust:

“It is fitting in well with the overall OD journey the Trust is on and I think that the vision is exactly right and is making a difference in practice.”

Positive discussions
The emphasis is on team discussion and team coaches report much more honest and open conversations leading to real moments of learning.

Neil Cowan sees teams beginning to work differently together, even at an early stage:

“I have to say I was impressed with the level of debate. It is clear as we have gone through the journey how each stage will help resolve team issues.”

Early stages
Jo Pritchard appreciates the direction, in which teams are asked to complete the first five stages of the journey sequentially to build a solid foundation:

“It really makes sense the way AOD has set it out and it really works. References to team operating principles, objective interdependencies and role clarity are becoming part of everyday language!”

What struck several groups, including that of Laura Purandare, was the wide range of opinion reflected in the initial team assessment:

“This approach has empowered the team to come forward and openly communicate ideas for solutions to current problems and take ownership for team assessment results.”

Inter-team working
Team community mapping is proving valuable in exploring the complexity of relationships which need to be managed and maintained if the team is to be successful. Bridie Moore explains:

“The team members embraced the exercise and got so much from it that they returned to it a second time. They have produced an action plan for how they will improve working relationships with certain teams.”

Summing up
Paula Rayson recognises that it is a steep learning curve, particularly for team leaders, but says those taking part agree that the clear, structured approach to improving team effectiveness is exactly what is needed:

“I have really enjoyed every aspect of this journey and am really keen to become a pivotal person in its development within the Trust.”

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