8 Traits of Highly Effective Teams
You’ve probably read your fair share of glossy Forbes magazines spouting off tips, tricks, and insider secrets to success.
With features from business moguls like Bill Gates to sports stars like Naomi Osaka, these magazines attempt to give an answer to the question everyone’s asking: how to generate — and maintain — success. And luckily, there's an answer.
From articles to personal stories, we can all agree that there’s one secret to success: in life, in business, and of course, in pharmacy practice. That secret is teamwork.
Individuals are important, but teams are powerful. When a group of different, diverse people can come together and work towards a common goal, they can move mountains. In the scope of pharmacy, these teams can treat more patients, implement more services, and see more success across the board.
That’s why Patrick Lencioni, bestselling author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, says, "It is not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”
If you’re looking to see success in your pharmacy and prove your competitive advantage — over big-box chains and beyond — look to your team.
It’s no surprise that a strong team starts (and ends) with a strong leader.
The best teams recognize that leaders play a powerful role in the success of the team, and they rely on the leader to provide direction and instruction. In exchange, the team expects the leader to uphold a certain standard of behavior.
Among other things, the leader should:
In this way, leadership is much less about being in charge and much more about bringing up the next generations of pharmacists, techs, and support staff. Whether they’re pharmacy owners or pharmacists-in-charge, the best leaders develop their strengths and skills and then use their influence to develop their team’s.
The leader is an integral part of the team, but so are the people that follow them.
From the most experienced clinician to the newest delivery driver, the best teams value the unique skills and talents that each person brings to the table. These teams celebrate individual contributions and acknowledge how they fit into the pharmacy.
In action, these teams offer collaboration, companionship, and support — and they show appreciation to one another in both big and small ways.
Looking to show your team how much you value them? Check out our blog, 6 Key Steps to Support Your Pharmacy’s Staff, for more ideas.
Rome wasn’t built in a day — and great teams aren’t either. Like most things in life, great teams require time, energy, and effort to grow; but they can’t grow without a foundation. That foundation? Trust.
As Patrick Lencioni writes in The Five Dysfunctions, “Teamwork begins by building trust.”
Trusting your team means that you give them the room to not only do their job, but to invest in the rest of the team and to support the larger goals of the organization.
In action, this may mean trusting your team to complete paperwork, to organize meetings, and or to follow the right protocol while performing clinical services.
Trust can be scary, but the best teams know that it’s a risk worth taking. In fact, teams that display higher levels of trust tend to share their input and take risks more often than those with lower levels of trust.
With more input and more insight, these teams come up with more creative, more innovative ideas. There’s no coincidence here.
Good teams have a strong sense of identity, both individually and collectively. This identity is made possible by outlining specific roles, goals, and values in the organization.
Roles refer to the contributions that each team member is expected to make.
Goals refer to the outcomes each person is expected to meet, as well as the outcomes the team is achieves together.
Values refer to the beliefs that motivate and guide each person on the team.
Clearly setting roles, goals, and values allows team members to be in alignment with each other and with the mission of the pharmacy as a whole. With closer alignment comes better outcomes.
In fact, a study from McKinsey finds that, “97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project.” That’s why it’s no surprise that strong teams take the time to outline what they expect and why.
The best teams set goals, but they also set specific measures to track those goals. A good pharmacist, for instance, might have a goal to vaccinate more patients. A great pharmacist, though, quantifies that goal and decides that they will vaccinate 50 patients in one week, which they will track using their pharmacy software system.
In other words, they set a clear measure of success.
Great teams, then, communicate what they expect from each team member and how their performance will be evaluated. Maybe it’s based on metrics. Maybe it’s based on patient satisfaction scores.
No matter how it’s defined, these teams identify what they consider successful and then empower each team member to reach success.
Communication is one of the biggest struggles in friendships, in relationships, and even in the pharmacy. Many people, it seems, have a hard time communicating clearly and openly — and that can seriously damage the health of the team.
In fact, a poll by Inc reveals that “33% of employees [believe that] a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale.”
It’s clear, then, that communication really is key: and the best teams have mastered it.
These teams communicate their wants, needs, and desires to one another. They ask for help when they need it, and they extend help when they can. They feel comfortable sharing their struggles and going to one another for input or advice.
They aren’t afraid to engage in hard conversations or say something that may go “against the grain.”
Because they trust one another, they feel safe to communicate freely.
Just as good teams share their ideas, they also respond to other people’s ideas. Feedback is an easy way to give praise, encouragement, and positive reinforcement to team members. And, on the other hand, it affords an opportunity to provide constructive criticism and redirection when necessary.
When team members receive feedback, they feel that their work is being noticed and that their contributions matter. This is an important part of boosting employee morale and achieving a strong culture in the pharmacy.
The best teams are quick to ask for feedback, open to giving it, and happy to receive it. This may mean having frequent feedback meetings, posting anonymous surveys online, or drafting employee reports within a certain time frame.
In any case, feedback helps these teams stay on the same page.
The eighth, and final, trait of a strong team is the willingness to celebrate success together.
Success may refer to professional victories — as in treating a certain number of patients, filling a certain number of scripts, or receiving a local award — or it may mean more personal ones, like graduations or weddings or new babies in the mix.
Either way, the best teams don’t miss out on an opportunity to recognize the milestones of each person and celebrate their hard work. Success is often slow-going, so when there are small moments of victory, these teams know how much celebration matters.
Take stock of your team and decide what you do well and what you need to improve. Maybe it’s communication; maybe it’s appreciation. An honest evaluation can give you a great starting point and help you build a blueprint to move forward in the future.
As you get going, remember this: highly effective teams are works in progress, built by a commitment to better yourself and those around you.
Are you ready to make the commitment?