As you appoint new team roles into the team, there are specific steps you can take that will help them to integrate quickly and sustainably. We've reached the final of our articles on multi-talented teams and will dive into the final element which can make the difference in how effective the change will be.
Let's continue with our theme of the healthcare setting with a live example. I've talked internationally about introducing and maturing MDT teams and have been heavily involved in cross-professional partnerships. A crucial step in integration is induction. The new role needs to understand the context in which they work, and the context needs to understand the potential of the new position. For example, when introducing a clinical pharmacist to the team, we ensured they spent time in the reception teams to understand the processes and environment of a family doctor.
Sometimes, skilled professionals dismiss this phase as non-value-added (to their peril). This time spent shadowing and exploring other functions helps the new team member understand the organisation's language, culture, freedoms, and limitations. They will hear patients' pain points and, importantly, will be able to share firsthand what they can do to resolve those issues. They can give direct insight into their background, training, and skill set with the conversation, a great way to transfer vocabulary and translate between professional archetypes. If you don't get it, you can ask straight away; you can ask for examples...
It's not even about harmony. The more that broader team members can understand the new role, the more they see the value of the contribution and the more they can advocate within their team or with customers. Being able to tell a patient directly that a clinical pharmacist like Joe has had in-depth medical training, is friendly, and can solve their problem provides more reassurance than repeating back the content of a leaflet or, worse, just handing over a brochure. The recommendation is authentic when personal connections are forged. Frankly, the warmer the proposal from the receptionist, the more likely the patient is to accept and trust the new role.
Communication, or even better, genuine engagement with consumers, is also essential. If you're able to create open dialogue (even with a small segment of your customer base), you can understand the objections that might come through from consumers and the language they need to hear. Introducing a new role or even new technology creates dissonance in the eyes of the consumer. Often, they can fill a void in understanding with their perspective of why you are making the change. Usually, that will come down to cutting costs. This pattern isn't only valid for healthcare; many retail settings have introduced versions of self-checkouts. How many people do you know consider this to be a cost-cutting exercise?
Depending on your industry, it's essential to be positive and proactive in communications. There are numerous examples where social media and more traditional press have jumped onto a bandwagon and created a negative stereotype of your decision. The UK media and letters pages have highlighted safety fears, profiteering, negligence even on the part of medical doctors in introducing new roles without really exploring what's underneath and what the benefits might be.
Next, it bears witness that introducing a new role is a fragile time for that decision and multiple opportunities for trial, feedback, adjustment loops to happen. If you plan for a perfect launch, you plan to fail—especially where humans are involved. Create strategic space for organic growth. Without feedback, you can't adjust the course and adapt to your context.
There's an excellent marketing tool that shows the number of different realities that operate simultaneously. Managers have one view of what they think is happening (often more than one). Staff members can have another. Consumers will have another. In addition, each will have their view about what should be happening at any point in time. This experience chain brings multiple points of friction, dilution, or diversion. That's why as leaders, you need to hold that curious learning space when introducing any change.