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Convincing Rival Docs to Become Partners

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, February 2, 2012

3. Don't pretend you all like one another

Levin worked with a group of hospital and physician leaders who had tried to make a deal, but at the 11th hour, after attorneys, accountants, and various business models, they broke off the negotiation. Some admitted that the deal-breaker was that they just didn't like one another.

Newly formed teams often mistakenly think it's OK if they just set aside their disagreements and not put them out front. That's what happened with this group, Levin says. Eventually, the differences rise to the surface. "What they tried was peace over trust," he says. "Peace over trust rarely works. You acknowledge the issues and make agreements around those issues, and over time you build trust. That's pretty hard to do."

"We acknowledged there were issues that were not going to fully resolve. They had some people who didn't like each other, but they had a working agreement and kept to that agreement," he says.

Why should the group go to so much effort to bridge their differences? Levin's book on "top teaming" discusses the teamwork concept and opportunities, as well as obstacles. "Top teams carry with them tremendous collective intelligence, operating experience, and the ability to exert significant influence over their company's mindset, focus, and performance," he says.

If Lincoln could do it, if the Yankees could do it, then physician practitioners can do it, too. Team-building takes work, but there's plenty of evidence it can result in great outcomes.

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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