Enhancing Group Performance in Hospitals
In the current dynamic corporate environment, hospitals that appreciate the importance of group dynamics tend to realize optimal outcomes. As such, they record outstanding performance and achieve most of their goals with respect to providing quality health care to their clientele. Marshall Medical Center North provides a variety of health services to a diverse population. Its main attributes include modern facilities that enable it to perform various specialized procedures and sufficient personnel (Marshall Medical Centers, 2013). This gives it a competitive edge and as aforementioned, it does attract a large and diverse client population. Besides providing healthcare services to the customers, the institution engages in various volunteer services. It runs foundation and financial assistance programs that provide support to deserving patients and members of the community (Marshall Medical Centers, 2013). The non-medical administrators perform important roles and oversee activities and operations of these programs. Departmental managers assume different responsibilities including identifying and reporting anomalies to the chief executive. It has over seventy nurses and an estimated forty physicians who work collaboratively to provide quality services (Marshall Medical Centers, 2013). It has both medical and non-medical personnel within its workforce.
According to social science studies, integrating different roles within groups goes a long way in easing decision-making and enhancing productivity (Rosen, 2009). Strong relationships within groups enhance productivity of the constituent teams by ensuring that they concentrate on specific goals and objectives. This research focuses on the factors that encourage diverse teams to work together in their efforts to attain exemplary performance. Within the hospital environment, the factors greatly influence quality service delivery that directly improves performance of all personnel. The staffs of Marshall Medical Center North (MMCN) are members of unions whose decisions have detrimental effects on group cohesion. Coupled with the complex challenges that this organization faces, this has far-reaching impacts on the productivity of the institution’s personnel. To address this concern, this paper proposes viable solutions that seek to enhance service delivery as well as organizational cohesion and outstanding performance.
Role Conflicts within Teams
Individuals are important facets of systemic institutions and the contributions that they make on the wellbeing of the organization are significant. In order to ensure cohesion, the organization and employers need to be conversant with their specific roles and responsibilities. In his consultative review, Hansen (2009) posits that conflicts and role ambiguity between medical professionals culminates in stressful work place conditions. Seemingly, this institution grapples the problem of role conflicts that undermines professional performance in different ways. Specifically, controversies underlying individual and group roles create tension in this professional setting. The physicians of the institution consider their statuses under threat due to the presence of a non-medical chief executive officer. Apparently, the hospital has a host of specialized personnel whose duties compel them to collaborate with each other while performing their duties. Put differently, they work together in groups in pursuit of the objectives of the institution. Whenever the medical personnel such as physicians, nurse assistants, and nurses meet, administrators and other non-medical staffs feel threatened. Likewise, there are soaring conflicts between specialized medical groups whose roles overlap. In this regard, nurses at times feel threatened by the responsibilities of physicians or pharmacists concerning prescription of drugs.
Admittedly, varying roles cause intergroup conflicts that affect the performance of organizational departments adversely. For instance, when nurses consider their responsibilities to be important than those of pharmacists, the perception delays timely delivery of important services to the clients. Generally, competing interests between medical staffs have negative spillover effects to the patients. A classic demonstration of such a scenario occurred during the interview process of this project. In this case, a client did not get his drugs within the specified period regardless of the pharmacist having presumably processed previous orders accordingly. The pharmacist gave the reason of insufficient new orders for this delay. The conflicts within this setting affect public relations within this institution negatively. In most instances, they undermine the quality of service delivery and affect treatment. Ultimately, they prevent effective administration of healthcare that is at the core of institutional goals and objectives.
Effective communication enhances information flow, eliminates conflicts, and improves employee performance within hospital settings (Hackman, 2002). Seemingly, various communication problems compromise performance in the hospital’s emergency department. This division comprises of separate contracted groups that perform different responsibilities. Resultantly, this state of affairs strains the relationship of the division with its administration. Moreover, the rest of the departments consider the emergency sector to be an independent and insignificant facet of the institution. This was apparent during the interview session that established that emergency service staffs do not contribute in any way to critical decision making within the organization. The administration does not involve them in important decisions pertaining to formulation of budgets, development of policies, and general institutional governance. The personnel in this department point out that the institution does not consider their problems seriously. This affects their performance adversely especially because they depend on it for supplies and approval. Failure to address this concern implies that the performance of the emergency room personnel is at stake. For example, patients reporting to this division currently wait for official communication from the administration before they access treatment and help. This is irrespective of the facilities and professionals being sufficient and available.
Poor communication amongst institutional departments delays important operations too. For instance, patients that are sent by the emergency department for treatment in other divisions are seldom accorded the timely attention that they deserve. Poor and irregular communication between the physicians and their counterparts in the emergency department makes it difficult for the former to effect important decisions accordingly. Seemingly, this is attributable to the fact that the employees in the emergency department are on contract basis and therefore considered unimportant by the rest of the staffs. The strenuous relations between these departments compel the patients to seek for new treatment procedures in instances when they are unable to consult their doctors from the emergency department. Notably, poor communication between these departments contributes to the undesirable state of affairs. This can only be addressed if the institution improves communication within groups and teams by encouraging subordinates to understand that the contribution that each makes to the wellbeing of the organization is vital.
Cohesion and Performance of Diverse Groups
In typical group environments, lack of cohesiveness culminates in employee dissatisfaction and increases frustrations (Harvard Business School Press, 2004). Notably, this problem exists between the management of the hospital and its employees. Currently, the staffs and directors of the institution work together to address and resolve wide ranging problems. However, the institution does not have sufficient and effective written rules and regulations that relate to staffing and scheduling. The nurses’ active union further makes it difficult for the management to streamline policies and ensure harmony.
In addition, conflicts between managers and subordinates in the foundation and volunteer programs are apparent. In their review, Katzenbach and Smith (2006) insist that effective management of personnel requires employers to emphasize on the emotional aspects of the groups as well as how they react in different settings. The authoritative nature of leadership in this hospital allows officials to make critical decisions without evaluating their implications on the wellbeing and needs of the subordinates. The managers of the volunteer program make most of the important decisions including planning without involving the subordinates. Lack of inclusiveness in decision-making creates various conflicts within these teams.
Using the functional behavior evaluation tool, the research established a glaring managerial problem within this institution. Apparently, the management is overly authoritative and restricts union activities. This is because it considers union actions potentially threatening to organizational functioning. The findings of the study indicate that the personnel are frustrated and dissatisfied with the manner in which the management runs the institution. Organizational trends indicate a high staff turnover during the last two years. In this respect, a significant twenty nurses quit employment on the premise that the management could not allow them to serve on professional practice councils. In addition to compromising the workplace settings, this downward trend demoralizes employees and prevents them from providing quality services to the clients.
Excessive Intergroup Conflicts
Ideally, hospitals environments are complex and their structures have varied implications on service delivery of the employees. Thus, intergroup conflicts have direct effects on the quality of services that the professionals extend to the patients. The research found that there is a persistent issue of contested responsibilities among the hospital’s doctors. Seemingly, physicians openly avoid responsibility in instances where they do not assume ownership of certain patients. Furthermore, specialists and physicians cause various problems in the emergency department. In addition, the concerns, priorities, and interests of the nurses of the emergency division and departmental administrators conflict with those of the physicians. There are notable differences between the pharmacists and nurses too. The preceding intergroup conflicts prevent productivity of various groups. Employees handle the needs of the clients individually, with each of them making efforts to address customer concerns without consultation. This results in duplication of roles and delay of service delivery. In particular, the state compels patients to pass through multiple departments in order to complete treatment. Conflicting perspectives further increase competition and makes it difficult for the employees to focus on achieving a common institutional goal (Hackman, 2002). An observation by the researcher indicates that nurses within the institution focus more on achieving patient satisfaction than on complementing the contributions of pharmacists and other personnel.
Recommendations for Individual Problems
It will be vital for Marshall Medical Center North to define the roles and responsibilities of each employee clearly. In his review, Hansen (2009) asserts that job descriptions are useful for eliminating incidences of ambiguity. The hospital’s management should take practical steps to ensure that their personnel exercise high-level creativity. The behavioral learning theories provide useful insights regarding ways through which employers can capitalize on group environments and optimize performance through increased interaction without compromising varying interests and roles. Equally imperative would be for the management to ensure attainment of self-actualization. Katzenbach and Smith (2006) point out that this gives employees a chance to explore their potential. The management of the hospital can attain this through regular team training and providing supportive environments for self-actualization.
As indicated earlier, effective communication is vitally important for productive functioning amongst groups. The management of the hospital assumes the sole responsibility of ensuring effective communication amongst its teams. It is important for its leaders to include the subordinates from the emergency division in critical decision-making and policy formulation processes. This is because they are important stakeholders whose views influence positive feedback in all institutions (Rosen, 2009).
To resolve the problem of lack of cohesion in this institution, the management should emphasize more on improving employee motivation. In this respect, it would be vital for managers to motivate their subordinates and clients that face innumerable life challenges. In order to perform well in their leadership positions, Rosen (2009) argues that they require frequent training. Such interventions are sustainable in the sense that they equip the managers with relevant skills and competencies to address the challenges with ease. Thus, leaders at all levels within the institution should attend the leadership development courses and seminars periodically. Since the hospital has sufficient resources, it should assume the responsibility of ensuring that its personnel build capacities in this respect. Further, it would be imperative for the union to advocate for better working conditions for the nurses. Rosen (2009) indicates that good working conditions impact positively on the performance of the personnel.
Certainly, intergroup conflicts undermine employee performance by creating unnecessary tension. At this point, it is worthwhile for the hospital to acknowledge the fact that all employees contribute significantly to the effective functioning of the organization. To help the personnel perform well, it should define their duties, responsibilities, and priorities and inform them accordingly. In particular, helping nurses and pharmacists to understand and appreciate their professional priorities will be instrumental in addressing the conflicts that exist between these groups. Likewise, defining priority areas for doctors will enable them understand their duties and responsibilities towards patients.
Leadership studies ascertain that conflicts can have devastating effects on employee performance within organizations (Harvard Business School Press, 2004). If timely interventions are not undertaken, these frustrate employee efforts and affect productivity of groups. To promote harmonic co existence within the hospital, its management should assume the responsibility of addressing emergent conflicts amicably. To yield optimal outcomes, it should begin by dealing with stress management. Currently, this problem is pervasive within the organization and threatens the wellbeing of employees in different ways. By first addressing this issue, Rosen (2009) believes that the employees will be willing to accept and use positive communication strategies in resolving underlying conflicts.
The decisions and polices that the institution formulates, implements, and enforces have direct implications on the wellbeing of all the stakeholders. All personnel have an equal stake in the functioning of this hospital. Hansen (2009) considers this institution systemic in nature. Thus, it is vital for the management to involve all subordinates in decision-making and policy formulation. Besides being a sustainable measure, this practice gives the organization a chance to benefit from the creative ideas of the employees. Collective participation increases the commitment of the employees to achieving organizational goals too.
From a theoretical point of view, organizational managers need to be conversant with the needs that influence group participation in work places. These include temporary, incomes, physiological, transportation, and accommodation needs (Thompson, 2013). Using these, managers should review the performance level of the employees and ensure that it is optimal. Besides addressing these fundamental needs, employers should emphasize on employee security. In this respect, employees that feel secure tend to perform better than their insecure counterparts do. Research agrees that environments that are supportive of acceptance and trust encourage effective performance. The inherent sense of belonging empowers employees and allows them to express their concerns with ease. Ultimately, such environments improve performance because the subordinates feel that the management appreciates their contributions and efforts (Thompson, 2013).
Hospitals are complex institutions that run varied operations ranging from housekeeping and nursing to emergency healthcare and staff development. In these contexts, group productivity ensures effective performance and optimal productivity. Efficient performance of groups presents various challenges to these institutions. Notably, Marshall Medical Center North has varied departments that need to work with each in order to attain important goals and objectives. In particular, the departments should work cohesively towards ensuring that patients access quality healthcare. As identified in the study, the group conflicts compromise attainment of this important goal. Besides improving communication and motivating employees, the institution’s management should consider empowering leaders at all levels through capacity building. It can attain this through effective use of the fundamentals of group motivation models. Most importantly, it should emphasize on meeting the entire needs of their staffs in order to boost their morale.
Hackman, J. (2002). Leading teams: Setting the stage for great performances. London: Harvard Business Review Press.
Hansen, M. (2009). Collaboration: How leaders avoid the traps, build common grounds and reap big results. London: Harvard Business Review Press.
Harvard Business School Press. (2004). Creating teams with an edge. New York: Harvard Business Essentials
Katzenbach, J. & Smith, D. (2006). The wisdom of teams: Creating the high performance organization. New York: Harper Business.
Marshall Medical Centers (2013). Marshall medical centers. Retrieved from: http://www.mmcenters.com/
Rosen, E. (2009). The culture of collaboration. New York: Red Ape Publishing.
Thompson, L. (2013). Creative conspiracy: The new rules of breakthrough collaboration. London: Harvard Business Review Press.