Setting team objectives

Setting team objectives is a bit like planning a journey.

When you’re planning a journey, you first set your destination – let’s say, for instance, you want to travel from London to Edinburgh. You then decide what’s the best way to travel – plane, train, car? By boat isn’t a realistic option, so you discount it.

So now you have your destination and know how you’re going to get there. Next will be deciding when to travel – what are the times of departure and arrival that will help you get the best from your trip? Now you need to think about who is going to be involved – who are your fellow travellers and who can give you the information you need about travel options, travel times and travel costs? Finally, you weigh everything up and make your decision.

It’s roughly the same when setting team objectives. As a team, you consider the following.

  • ‘Destination’ – where do we want to go with our team? What’s the ultimate aim of our service?
  • ‘How are we going to get there?’ What kinds of care and treatment can we offer that will deliver the kind of service we want to produce for our patients/clients?
  • ‘When are we going?’ What are the key times during the day when our actions will really make a difference?
  • ‘Who are our fellow-travellers – who is going to be involved?’ What skills, knowledge and resources do we have in the team that will help us get to our destination? What roles will each of us have to play?
  • ‘Decision’ – we now understand what we want to deliver, how we’re going to deliver it, when we’re going to deliver it, and who’s going to deliver it – so let’s deliver it!

But when planning a journey, things can go wrong. You might turn up at the airport to find thick fog has caused your flight to be cancelled. Your planned trip a week on Tuesday might have to be changed because you now need to support a relative who has an important hospital appointment. You might even decide that you don’t want to go to Edinburgh after all and would rather head for Cardiff or Belfast!

This can happen in health care, too. Patient/client needs change, service priorities change, and team memberships change. When things change, teams need to be flexible to make sure they can change their overall objectives, or the way they deliver care, or the key times when care is given, or the staff members who deliver the care. The important thing, though, is that the decision to change is made by the team, and that everyone in the team knows what changes they’ll have to make to their role.

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