Communication and Conflict Resolution
As of today, the majority of organizations regardless their field of activity require efficient professional teamwork and collaboration in a vulnarable environment as expert interprofessional groups have profound professional knowledge and relevant competences and are likely to "have fewer personal problems and conflicts between the members" (Juhász, 2010, p. 63). Taking into consideration that the team is expected to work together collaboratively for the next 6 months, it is of fundamental importance to establish ground rules and set expectations that all team members will adhere to. One of the best methods is developing the internal code of conduct, which will outline not only the ground rules of effective collaboration and set expectations of such interprofessional team work, but also establish principles of team communication and appropriate behavior. The team code of conduct is to be based on the fundamental goal of the project, which is working together on a number of challenging cases, as well as on goals and different visions of each of the team members. For instance, as a beginning point for discussion, negotiation, and planning, when developing the code of conduct, it is of paramount importance to "set up the details of when, where, and how long meeting will take place and which other forms of communication should be used" (DeNisco & Barker, 2016, p. 745).
Another crucial factor that should be taken into consideration within the context of interprofessional collaboration is that differences in personality, expectations, and experience might significantly affect team efficiency. According to Boone and Kurtz (2011), "team diversity is an important consideration for teams that must complete a wide range of different tasks of particularly complex tasks" (p. 307). Various studies and researches clearly demonstrate that personal traits and personality in general of team members are a factor of great importance in explaining how employees are likely to act and cooperate behave in groups and within the organization. According to Juhász (2010), "team-performance as an output of the team process is directly influenced by the Conscientiousness and the Extraversion personality factors" (p. 63). For instance, extraverted individuals with profound experience might encourage and motivate other team members to work more effectively. In the meantime, "one and the same attribute such as educational diversity" can have positive impact on the team within the context of overall performance but negative impact from the perspective of team contact and cohesion (Antoniou, 2009, p. 80).
Speaking from the perspective of conflict resolution for interprofessional teams, it is of fundamental importance to designate a person who will be responsible for managing all conflicts within the team. It is also very advisable that this person receives special training on conflict management and resolution. Obviously, team members have to be motivated to resolve minor interpersonal conflicts through their individual effort by means of communication and negotiation. However, if a serious conflict arises, the designated person is to exert every effort to resolve it in the most effective and just manner. According to Boone and Kurtz (2011), the best solution to handling conflict situation within the team "is not avoiding it, but making sure that the team experiences the right kind of conflict" (p. 307).
Various studies and researches prove that one of the most effective conflict resolution strategies for interprofessional teams is the use of negotiation tools from the Program on Negotiation (Fisher & Shapiro 2005), which "might help individuals to promote positive feelings, to focus on interests rather than on positions and to generate a safe environment where collaborative practices might grow naturally" (Beunza, 2012, p. 110). This conflict resolution tool would be most rational and efficient in situations where team members give vent to emotions or have completely different opinions or visions regarding a particular matter.
The issue of team leadership is one of the fundamental factors contributing to team efficiency and cohesion. Therefore, the team leader must be chosen by team members themselves rather than appointed by higher authorities. According to MacGregor (2007), if the team already has an identified and evident leader, "it is quite meaningful for this person to lead the sharing process, modeling norms and expectations while bringing the group together through discussion" (p. 40). If the team leader happens to be ineffective, this might negatively influence the process of collaboration and its effectiveness taken as a whole and cause internal conflicts.
Communication and Collaboration Strategies
Effective interprofessional collaboration requires constant support by means of particular practices and technologies. As a general rule, the most effective practices of interprofessional collaboration are based on the combination of the following elements: team communication, leadership, coordination, and decision making. Only when all of the above elements are well-established within the team, the team is likely to work collaboratively and demonstrate outstanding results.
One of the best practices that is employed for this purpose is the training model of collaborative and interprofessional education, developed by three universities, "the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, the University of Florida and the University of Washington" (Bridges, Davidson, Odegard, Maki, & Tomkowiak, 2011, p. 1). This model is a combination of three fundamental programs and experiences, which include "a didactic program, a community-based experience and an interprofessional-simulation experience" (Bridges, Davidson, Odegard, Maki, & Tomkowiak, 2011, p. 1). The interprofessional-simulation component of this model is aimed at training clinical team skills in different forms of simulations designed to develop crucial skills in communication and leadership among members of such interprofessional groups. Speaking from the perspective of community-based experiences, this component is used to develop not only professional competences, but also to demonstrate "how interprofessional collaborations provide service to patients and how the environment and availability of resources impact one's health status" (Bridges, Davidson, Odegard, Maki, & Tomkowiak, 2011, p. 1).
Communication is one of the most important aspects that contributes to effective collaboration. That is the reason why communication strategies and appropriate types of communication have to be chosen carefully and, therefore, have to be discussed in advance and accepted by all team members and used in an appropriate manner. Appropriate types of communication have to be discussed and accepted by all team members. Face-to-face communication is appropriate and effective when working in close collaboration on the same task or case. E-mails are useful in case of important messages regarding projects that need to be communicated to all of the team members. Text messages are acceptable in case of informal communication or when they are related to non-emergency work issues or other matters of low importance. Voice mail type of communication is commonly used when the person is not available or out of work as well as in cases of emergency.
Antoniou, A. G. (2009). Handbook of managerial behavior and occupational health. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
Beunza, J. (2012). Conflict resolution techniques applied to interprofessional collaborative practice. Journal of Interprofessional Care,27(2), 110-112. doi:10.3109/13561820.2012.725280
Boone, L. E., & Kurtz, D. L. (2011). Contemporary business (14th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.
Bridges, D. R., Davidson, R. A., Odegard, P. S., Maki, I. V., & Tomkowiak, J. (2011). Interprofessional collaboration: three best practice models of interprofessional education. Medical Education Online,16(0). doi:10.3402/meo.v16i0.6035
DeNisco, S. M., & Barker, A. M. (2016). Advanced Practice Nursing (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & bartlett Learning .
Juhász, M. (2010). Influence of personality on Teamwork behaviour and communication. Periodica Polytechnica Social and Management Sciences,18(2), 63-77. doi:10.3311/pp.so.2010-2.02
MacGregor, M. G. (2007). Teambuilding with teams: activities for leadership, decision making & group success. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Pub. Inc.