Reflective Paper on Teamwork Experience

Reflection is closely linked to effective approaches to learning, particularly in the field of professional practice, with Nicol and Dosser highlighting the significance of the experience as a critical tool for updating professional theories and improving practice in the process (Nicol and Dosser 2016, p 34). To look back on, the experience of team working during the development of their infographic for NUR372 has enabled participating students to learn several practical skills on teamwork that are essential for nursing practice. The present paper reflects upon the role I played in the development of infographics for NUR372, and critically analyse the group performance as far as teamwork is concerned. It could be argued that our team performed exceptionally well; however, areas such as adaptability and team orientation could have been improved. The paper relies on relevant literature to support the reflection, with Salas, Sims, and Burke (2005) “Big Five” in the Teamwork model acting as the guiding principle.

Peer learning teams were formed to participate in the development of infographics for NUR372 to be used in conveying information to patients. Our team comprised of six students and were all assigned particular roles in the development. An infographic is a visual presentation of information or content using design elements. It expresses complex messages to the patients in a manner that enhances their comprehension (Balkac and Ergun 2018, p 2514). The primary goal of the team was to create an infographic that can enable the patients to understand information on various diseases effortlessly, trending healthcare topics and procedures related to drug use and general care. The infographics were intended to translate such intricate health-related information into simple graphical snapshots enabling the patients to have insight into what causes diseases, treatment, and prevention methods.

The team relied significantly on the “Big Five” in the teamwork model by Salas, Sims, and Burke. (2005) for the success and attainment of the intended objective, as stated in the previous section. Salas, Sims, and Burke, maintain that it is practical to narrow down what scholars understand about teamwork into five fundamental constituents they termed as the “Big Five” in teamwork. The central elements of teamwork include “team leadership, mutual performance monitoring, backup behaviour, adaptability, and team orientation” (Salas, Sims, and Burke 2005, p 556). However, for the effectiveness of the team in achieving the intended purpose, the components must be supported by a coordinating mechanism such as, shared mental models and mutual trust, which varied in their significance during the task and the life of the team (Salas, Sims, and Burke 2005, p 557). Team leadership was pertinent during the assignment.

It was suggested by team members that leadership role should be rotational. The development of the infographic required each member to assume leadership responsibility on a rotational basis to facilitate effective presentation in class after the completion. Rotational leadership is considered key to the success of any team where there is a need for the team to present the findings before class or panel successfully. A role should not exhaust a team member. As such, rotating the responsibilities is essential to bring the best out of every team member, as opposed to expecting people to stick to the same position (Komasawa and Berg 2016, p 250). Study shows that a group or organization that adopts roles allow for rotation of leadership within the teams, which consequently translates to the development of the group (Valentine, Nembhard, and Edmondson, 2015, p 16). Rotating leadership roles allows team members to step up to the task.


One of the significant challenges the team faced was that some members feared the obligation of assuming the leadership role at the earlier stages on the basis that they felt less skilled in creating slides and other logical structures upon which the infographics were to be developed. To correct the issue, two of the team members assumed the encouragement and guidance role, encouraging the other fearful members to improve on their courage. The volunteered members borrowed a leaf from Morrow, Gustavson, and Jones (2016) that called on introverts and nervous individuals to focus on by speaking openly and speaking up for their build trust (p 12). As more meetings were held, the three fearful members were able to gain courage and lead the rest of the team to the best of their knowledge and understanding. They could welcome members to air their views and interrupt them to give a chance to their colleagues to interject in areas they felt discontented.

Several lessons were drawn from working as a team and learning from “Big Five” in the teamwork model by Salas, Sims, and Burke (2005), which can be applied in nursing practice. Among the issues learned include the role of leadership in teamwork. According to Salas, Sims, and Burke (2005), team leaders play a critical role in ensuring the effectiveness of the teamwork actions through the following the overcharging functions: The team leader has the mandate to generate and uphold the exactitude of the team’s collective mental model. The team leaders develop and maintain a precise shared understanding of the project goals, the responsibilities of every member, and the available resources for the team (p 569). The planning is done at the onset and throughout the lifespan of the team. As such, team leadership is vital for the success of team working, since the failure of the leader to structure and guide the team to facilitate adaptive and coordinative actions can easily translate ineffective team performance.

Besides team leadership, mutual performance monitoring (MPM) was also crucial for the success of the team and can as well be applied for the success of any unit of nurses. Effective teams must comprise of members who maintain the awareness of the team progress and functioning through monitoring the works of colleagues to identify and correct mistakes and lapse before and shortly after the occurrence (Ezziane, Maruthappu, Gawn, Thompson, Athanasiou, and Warren 2012). MPM is defined as the ability to keep track of colleagues’ works while carrying out your own to ascertain that everything runs as planned (Salas, Sims, and Burke 2005). MPM is exceptionally significant when the team is running stressful tasks.

Like in the case of our team and even in any nursing practice, everything needs to be done the right way, taking into account the dynamics of different categories of patients. Burtscher, Kolbe, Wacker, and Manser (2011), argued that overloaded members of a team are more likely to make mistakes. Possibly compounding this problem is that study shows that team members may not be conscious of their performance insufficiencies. Fortunately, the feedback from other colleagues can translate to individual team members becoming more cognizant of their performance (Suprapto, Bakker, and Mooi 2015, p 1349). The same was evident during our teamwork as sometimes others members could deviate from the initial plans without being aware, but were able to come back on track when corrected by their colleagues.

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The team relied on information collected through mutual performance motoring, which played a significant role in directing performance by establishing lapses and errors. Just as submitted by Salas, Sims, and Burke (2005), the information was expressed through backup behaviour and feedback, advancing the team from the sum of individual performance to the synergy of team collaboration and consequently to team effectiveness (p 598).  Effective MPM necessitated a mutual understanding of the project and responsibilities, also known as the shared mental model (Westli, Johnsen, Eid, Rasten, and Brattebø, 2010, p 47). A shared mental model is essential for effective MPM as it provides the team members with an understanding of the roles of everyone in the group. It acts as the basis for the effectiveness of feedback and performance monitoring (Westli et al. 2010, p 50). Performance monitoring becomes ineffective without the same mental model within the team, and as such, any feedback given becomes inconsequential.

A backup behaviour, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, was significant in distributing workloads based on the abilities and needs of the team members.  A simple definition of backup behaviour is the ability to anticipate the needs of team members as shifting task-related effort as appropriate (Kalisch et al., 2015, p 166). Moe, Dingsøyr, and Dybå (2010), suggest three approaches of providing backup behaviour, which include: (a) coaching and giving feedback to improve performance; (b) assisting team members in task performance; (c) extending a helping hand to a team member when an overload is detected (p 480). The same applies to the healthcare team to avoid overloading the nurses. In the event it is established that a team member has a workload that surpasses his or her capacity; a decision to distribute the role to other underutilized members becomes critical.

We also learned that teamwork requires adaptability to respond to any change of circumstance. The team was faced with several challenges during the project, including some members falling ill in the process. However, we manage to encounter such challenges by adjusting strategies and responsibilities to match every condition. Similarly, the study shows that a high degree of adaptability is necessary for the nursing practice to respond to a wide range of patients and care needs (Casida and Pinto-Zipp 2008, p 7). Patients come in with diverse illnesses, and as a nurse, I must be in a position to make an emergency response to save a life. Adaptability is regarded as the outcome of the team for which the team strives ((Casida and Pinto-Zipp 2008, p 7). However, what I learned during the team working process is that the culture of the team’s adaptability requires a universal perspective of the team responsibilities and the ability of the members to recognize changes.

The final dimension of “Big Five” that applied during our teamwork and also essential for the nursing practice is team orientation. Contrary to the previous facets that are more behavioural, team orientation is much of attitudinal, and requires focusing on the team as opposed to individuals. Team orientation is also essential for my practice as a nurse, particularly in facilitating decision-making (Hockenberry and Wilson, 2018, p 16). Since the focus is on the team, not individual, team orientation is found to translate into increased coordination and cooperation among members and can facilitate performance through task involvement, sharing of information and setting goals (Salas, Sims, and Burke, 2005, p 579), from the team perspective.

Reflection has a strong theoretical foundation that explores mystery, action, and knowledge in professional practice. Salas, Sims, and Burke (2005) “Big Five” in the Teamwork model offers excellent insight on how to achieve success and higher performance during teamwork through team leadership, mutual performance monitoring, backup behaviour, adaptability, and team orientation. The principles, as discussed above, can as well be applied to facilitate the effectiveness of nursing practice. For instance, leadership is essential in directing the actions of a team of nurses. The same applies to backup behaviour, which is critical for balancing workload to ensure no nurse is overworked.


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