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Building Teams in Times of Uncertainty and Rapid Change

Friday, October 16, 2020   (0 Comments)
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Author: Deborah Center, PhD, MSN, RN, CNS, CTA-CC, Chief Program Officer at the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence


Now, more than ever, community health centers (CHCs) need high performing teams that can be adaptive and responsive within our rapidly changing world. Yet, with COVID and the social unrest pandemics having no clear path for returning normalcy, staff and leaders are overwhelmed and stressed beyond levels we have seen in our history. According to a recent study in JAMA1, the prevalence of depression symptoms in the U.S. are three times higher during COVID-19 compared to any time in history, including following other major events such as 9/11 and hurricane Katrina. Healthcare leaders and staff are not immune to these stresses and the impact is bleeding into our work environments and is having a negative impact on our team and organizational results. Unless leaders can implement strategies to help build team connection and capacity for supporting the growth of team member emotional intelligence, hardiness and grit the risk for workforce burnout and turnover is predicted to be great and have a profound impact on the CHC’s ability to serve their communities.


Creating a culture of team, where all members of the team feel connected to the mission, purpose, and people within the organization is essential, especially at a time when people feel disconnected with masks, social distancing, and remote work. I wish there were a magic bullet to create the connections and there is not. Rather, to really build a culture of team, it takes commitment, time, and attention.




LaFasto and Larson2 identified in their work on When Teams Work Best, that when the energy within a team is all focused on the goal, outcomes are achieved. Sounds so simple, right? Unfortunately, as we are seeing today, many factors internal and external to our work environment can drain the energy away from the goal causing the team to fail to achieve, even get stuck or freeze, hindering patient outcomes. The factors can vary from clinic to clinic, team to team, and often relate to personality differences, communication styles, ego, silo’s within organizations, hierarchy, fear of speak up or desire to avoid conflict, uncertainty, unclear roles and responsibility, lack of accountability and “it’s not my job” attitudes, and stress, overwhelm, and burnout due change fatigue. If organizations are to survive and thrive through all the uncertainty in our world today, leaders identify the root cause of the energy drains in their organization first. Once identified, then and only then, can leaders begin to take meaningful action to turn it around and shift the energy back to the goal to achieve more sustainable outcomes.



To support the CHCs in the northwest region to create a culture of team, the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence is partnering with the NWRPCA to offer the Leadership Development Program for Building Effective Interprofessional Teams. The program is supported through funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services Primary Care Training and Enhancement Program, grant #TOBHP29991. The year-long virtual team and leadership development training and coaching program focuses on identifying the energy drains and developing tools and skills to turn them around. There are a variety of individual and team assessments (including the EQ-I 2.0; DiSC Workstyle Profile; Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team; and Interprofessional Competency Assessment, and a Values Assessment) to help individuals and leaders grow awareness first. Beyond the classroom content, the program supports the integration of strategies based on the assessment results to improve the team and team outcomes. Each team will have the opportunity to complete a capstone or integration project that focuses on improving UDS Quality measures, employee and patient engagement, and team building. The teams are all supported throughout the yearlong journey by an executive-level team coach. For more information on the program please go to https://www.nwrpca.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1394068#featured-videos/?legacy=1&id=1394068. The deadline for registration is approaching and space is limited.


If you have any questions about the program, content, assessments or our faculty and coaching team, please feel free to reach out to me directly at Deb@ColoradoNursingCenter.org.


Thank you for all the work you do to support the health of your communities. Stay safe and healthy.


About the author:

Dr. Center is a nurse and the Chief Program Officer at the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence. She leads the Primary Care Training and Enhancement Program with an expert team of faculty and coaches. She holds a PhD in Organizational Development and Leadership Psychology with a specialty focus on creating healthy work environments and coaching. She is an executive and leadership coach with specialty certifications in a variety of assessment tools.




1Ettman, C.K, Abdalla, S.M., Cohen, G.H., Sampson, L., Vivier, P.M., & Galea, S. (2020). Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Network Open, 3(9), 1-12. Doi: 10.100/jamanetworkopen.2020.19686.

2 LaFasto, F. & Larson, C. (2001). When Teams Work Best: 6,000 Team Members and Leaders Tell What it Takes to Succeed. Sage Publications, Inc.: Thousand Oaks, CA.







NWRPCA welcomes and regularly publishes white papers and articles submitted by members, partners and associates with subject matter expertise. The appearance of any guest publication in our Health Center News database represents the views of the author and does not constitute endorsement by NWRPCA of the stated opinions or perspectives, nor does it suggest endorsement of the contributor's products or services.

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