June 13, 2008

Teamwork, building effective groups focus of elevate meeting

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Harry Jacobson, M.D., speaks at last week’s Leadership Development Institute. (photo by Neil Brake)

Teamwork, building effective groups focus of elevate meeting

The summer Leadership Development Institute focused on teamwork within Vanderbilt Medical Center, with speakers and workshops designed to help staff and faculty work more collaboratively.

“Health care in all aspects is a team sport,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, in his opening message to the group, which met Wednesday and Thursday last week in the newly renovated Langford Auditorium. The difference in how a work group performs is based around “how well we work together as a team,” Jacobson added.

As is customary at the Medical Center's quarterly LDI meetings, which are a part of the institution's elevate management initiative, Jacobson updated the group on progress across the five pillars upon which elevate is based, spending most of his time on the People pillar, discussing the community survey results.

The survey performed yearly, is a look at attitudes of staff and faculty toward all aspects of their jobs, co-workers, and the Medical Center as a whole. Jacobson proudly noted that 61 of 63 items on the survey showed improvement, and all scores are above national averages for health care institutions.

“We are definitely moving in the right direction and I'm very proud about that,” he said.

Jacobson also noted some areas that have room for improvement, among them communication, teamwork and participative decision-making, which he said can make a difference in achieving goals in the satisfaction, retention and engagement of employees.

That emphasis led into later programs in the morning in which William Stead, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Strategy and Transformation, updated the group on broad proposals based around the Medical Center's Vision 2020 initiative, which was the subject of the previous LDI, held in April.

The keynote speaker was Pat Richie, founder and president of SLG Corporate, who based his talk, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” around the book of the same title by Patrick Lencioni.

“Teamwork is a choice and it does not happen by chance,” said Richie, who works with professional sports teams and corporate clients.

He recalled the famous line Jack Nicholson spoke in the movie “A Few Good Men” – “You can't HANDLE the truth!”

“He was speaking to me, to you, to all of us,” Richie said, adding, “You want to create an organization where you deal in the culture of the truth.”

Following the morning session, afternoon breakout sessions picked up on the teamwork theme, with topics including “Intro to Conflict Management,” “Attitudes Towards Differences” and “Resilience for Teams and Leaders.”

The next LDI is scheduled for Sept. 11 and 12.