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UK Coaching Team

How to Sustain Momentum in a Successful Interdisciplinary Team

Having established your Interdisciplinary team, it’s important to know how to maintain the team. In the eighth resource in a series, Jason Tee provides tips on how to keep up momentum when a team is working effectively together

Interdisciplinary teamwork (IDT) is in many ways like any other committed relationship: sometimes it comes easily, and sometimes you have to work at it. You must invest in the relationships to keep them from fizzling out.

When your IDT is working in sync, don’t become complacent. Take the time to invest in the relationships with individuals and the team relationships, making sure that effective collaboration and communication channels are maintained into the future.

Make time for each other

If a frog is placed into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately try to jump out; but if it’s placed into a pot of cool water that’s gradually heated until boiling, it will stay put and never try to jump out."

Richard Beckham II

In interdisciplinary teams, you work closely together and quickly notice when things aren’t ‘clicking’ and going well. When there is open conflict among team members, this is the same as the frog in the hot water: everyone knows that you need to ‘turn down the heat’ or get out of the environment.

Alternatively, when IDTs are functioning well, this is the equivalent to the frog being in the cool water: he is happy and there is no need to panic.

However, this complacency may lead to problems, such as less time spent maintaining and managing relationships. Without nurturing individuals, there is real potential that lines become drawn, silos appear, and individuals begin to display micro-aggressions, which remain unchallenged.

A micro-aggression is a comment, action, or facial expression which is regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against a team member. This can lead to the erosion of practices that led to the success of the team in the first place. Before we know it, the thriving environment has instead become uncomfortable, even though the subtle shifts and changes were initially unnoticeable.

Remember: just because things aren’t urgent, doesn’t make them unimportant. The easiest way for an IDT to reduce its effectiveness and slip into trouble is the cancelling of meetings and skipping on communication and updates because there is no immediate need or crisis, or because other things take priority.

The richness and value of IDT work comes from the unexpected insights and different perspectives that other team members provide, and you need to provide the space, time, environments, and opportunities for these to occur. Any relationship counsellor will advise that making regular time for each other strengthens many other aspects of the relationship.

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