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5 Steps to Turning Around Your Underperforming Healthcare Team

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

As stated in the British Medical Journal, while every member of your healthcare team is equally as important as each other, the most critical member really is the patient.

Any shortcomings in your healthcare team will ultimately be to the detriment of the patient – so it is vital as a healthcare leader that you can quickly identify and remedy any team that begins to underperform.

There can be many reasons why a healthcare team begins to underperform, from staff shortages to low morale. The earlier you catch a team that has started to slip, the better chance you have of being able to turn it around.

Turning around your underperforming healthcare team will not only benefit patients; a study published by Aston University noted that:

“the best and most cost-effective outcomes for patients and clients are achieved when professionals work together, learn together, engage in audit of outcomes together, and generate innovation to ensure progress in practice and service”

So how can you turn an underperforming healthcare team into one which is harmonious, efficient and effective?

1. Ask Your Staff

If your healthcare team is underperforming, there is a good chance that they are aware of it. This also means that they will likely be mindful why its also happening too.

Perhaps one department is understaffed, and it is affecting the whole organisation? Is there an issue with ineffective management? Perhaps some staff don’t feel they have the tool to effectively do their jobs and are afraid to mention it – it can be something as small as a disagreement between different team members.

You might not have all the answers right away, but opening up the channel of communication and asking your employees how you can help solve any issues they have is the first step to turning around an underperforming team.

2. Encourage Communication in High-Risk Areas

A recent study published in the NCBI concluded that often, mistakes withing healthcare teams are the result of poor communication and not down to incompetence or errors. The study found that more effective communication in high-risk areas, for example, A and E, High dependency units or operating theatres are needed.

Remind your staff that they can speak up or challenge colleagues when they think that something seems out of place or wrong, even if that colleague is in a position of authority.


3. Be Specific

If you are aware of areas of your team that are underperforming, target these areas instead of taking the ‘one size fits all’ approach. Don’t call a staff meeting to discuss an issue which is only stemming from a few employees as this will only increase feelings of animosity and the offending staff will be encouraged to continue underperforming.

4. Be Committed and have Relevant Goals

Once you have identified your problem areas, you need a plan of action – but it has to be both relevant and specific.

Instead of saying ‘we plan to increase the number of patient check-ins over the next six months’, for each patient, or each member of staff, set them a specific target.

In healthcare, teamwork is paramount, so you need for every employee to be on side with any new procedures that are brought in. We understand that in healthcare, your time often feels stretched, but if you implement a plan which the doctors have abandoned by the end of the first week, the nurses and assistants are likely to follow.

New procedures and goals need to be easy to implement and importantly - not detract the healthcare staff away from their life-saving care.

If you already have goal-orientated targets in place, but they aren’t being met, now is the time to re-evaluate them; are your staff too busy to keep track of their targets, or are the procedures to track targets too complicated?

5. Be on Your Team’s Side

Most important of all, let your team know that you are all in this together, from the nursing assistants to the CEO. You will often hear the head physicians saying that they couldn’t do their jobs without nurses and it’s true! So make sure they know it.

Have an open-door policy so that any team member knows that they have somewhere to go to voice their concerns they might have, and welcome ideas and opinions about how the organisation could be better run.


Healthcare, by definition, is a multifaceted discipline, and each team member is just as important as the next. However, the key to great healthcare teams is great employees.

If you have been affected by the current shortage of healthcare staff affecting the UK, get in contact with us today. As specialist healthcare recruiters, we have access to passive candidates who will only apply to your vacancies after a conversation with us.




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