Information Items

Is Your Organization Ready for TeamSTEPPS?

Answering these questions can help your institution understand its level of readiness to initiate the TeamSTEPPS program. You may find it helpful to have a colleague review your responses or to answer the questions with a larger group (e.g., senior leaders).

Defining Need

Has your institution clearly defined the need to initiate a teamwork-based patient safety initiative for culture change?

  1. Have you clearly defined the need that is driving your institution to consider implementing TeamSTEPPS?

    An organization is more likely to be ready to undertake a TeamSTEPPS initiative when it has objective information to support the need for improving specific areas. Objective information can originate from a variety of sources, including adverse event and near-miss reports, root cause analyses or failure modes and effects analyses, administering the AHRQ Patient Safety Culture Survey, surveys of patient or staff satisfaction, and unit- or site-specific process and outcome measures (patient flow, hospital acquired infection rates, preventable deaths).

  2. Is building a stronger teamwork and safety culture an appropriate strategy to address your institution's need?

    TeamSTEPPS is a teamwork system that offers a powerful solution to improving collaboration and communication within your institution. Teamwork has been found to be one of the key initiatives within patient safety. Patient safety experts agree that communication and other teamwork skills are essential for providing quality health care and preventing and mitigating medical errors. An organization that is ready to focus on teamwork and safety is more likely to benefit from a TeamSTEPPS intervention.

    Has your institution clearly assessed the willingness to participate in, the timeliness of, and the readiness for a culture change based upon teamwork and safety?

  3. Is now the right time for implementing a culture change (i.e., it will not compete with other major changes currently being made at your institution)?

    If your organization is currently experiencing many changes, it may not be the ideal moment to begin implementing the TeamSTEPPS initiative. Attempting to manage multiple change efforts at one time may degrade your institution's ability and employees' willingness to implement and sustain the TeamSTEPPS effort. The program may be viewed as a distraction rather than a solution.

  4. Is a culture change that emphasizes the importance of teamwork and safety feasible and acceptable?

    The goal of TeamSTEPPS is to provide the safest and highest quality health care. This involves optimizing a complicated delivery system of people and processes and requires change, including recognizing the need for change, developing a culture that will accept change, and fostering change in individuals' approaches to the health care delivery process. This change may involve giving people freedom and discretion, encouraging risk-taking and speaking up, giving permission to find team-driven solutions. Your institution must be willing to change its culture and processes to enhance teamwork and safety.

  5. Will your institution's leaders support culture change and the effort required to implement and sustain the TeamSTEPPS initiative?

    It is essential that the leaders of your institution actively support and champion TeamSTEPPS. Leaders needs to understand the requirements of the program (e.g., trainer preparation and training, ongoing coaching, weekly team meetings to reinforce concepts) and be willing to provide the personnel, time, and resources required to successfully implement and sustain the program. In addition, it is important for leaders to understand their role in sponsoring, evaluating, enabling, or modifying the behaviors necessary to shape and maintain the targeted safety or teamwork behavior changes.

    Is your institution willing to allocate the necessary time, resources, and personnel to implement and sustain the TeamSTEPPS initiative?

  6. Will your institution provide sufficient staff with the necessary characteristics and attitudes to serve as instructors?

    It is important to find individuals with the right characteristics to serve as trainers to increase the success of the TeamSTEPPS initiative. Instructors should be:

    • Viewed as advocates of teamwork and models for implementing teamwork actions during day-to-day operations.
    • Dynamic presenters.
    • Viewed by peers and administrators as leaders who are highly respected and able to influence others.
    • In positions that allow flexibility in scheduling.
    • Highly visible, accessible, and available for teamwork coaching throughout the change effort.
  7. Will your institution provide sufficient staff with the necessary characteristics and attitudes to serve as coaches?

    Given that this is a culture change effort, the TeamSTEPPS initiative extends beyond classroom teaching and calls for coaches to reinforce, monitor, and role model teamwork principles in everyday practice. It is important to select individuals with the right characteristics to serve as coaches to increase the likelihood of their success and others' receptiveness to their coaching. For coaching to be effective, one coach is needed for every 10 staff members.

    Coaches should:

    • Be effective at developing the teamwork skills of others.
    • Be able to effect changes in work patterns, behaviors, and the environment.
    • Be highly respected with sufficient informal or formal power.
    • Have an interpersonal style conducive to coaching (e.g., demonstrate a supportive attitude and ability to build confidence in others).
    • Be able to provide effective feedback that is descriptive, problem oriented, empowering, exploring, and considerate.
  8. Will your institution allow time to prepare instructors and coaches for their roles?

    TeamSTEPPS offers a 2.5-day train-the-trainer course to educate instructors and coaches in content fundamentals and the knowledge and training to implement and coach the desired behaviors to achieve results.

  9. Will your institution allow time for personnel to attend training?

    Regardless of your institution's plan for implementing TeamSTEPPS, some direct staff training will be required. The full training element of the program includes up to 6 hours of classroom learning; however, your institution may decide to train only one segment (e.g., a specific tool or strategy) that may require 1 hour. To preclude disruptions and scheduling problems and to maximize learning, participants should be excused from all duties while attending class.

  10. Will your institution allow time for instructors to potentially customize the course?

    TeamSTEPPS provides flexibility in how it is implemented. An institution may determine that it is best to select just one tool and implement that segment of the training and the necessary follow-up coaching to ensure teams learn and continue to use the tool to enhance teamwork and safety. Segments also include supplemental and interchangeable content and examples that may be used to customize the program. In addition, institutions may choose to have their own content and examples included. Each of these options requires trainers to commit some time to customize the content.

    Has your institution clearly defined the systems and measures needed for sustaining continuous improvement of processes and fostering positive teamwork behaviors?

  11. Will your institution be willing to measure and assess progress and continuously improve processes?

    For continued success, the organization needs to view the culture change as a process rather than an event. It is important that your institution continually measure the ongoing effectiveness of the TeamSTEPPS intervention. This enables the institution to know whether the intervention is successful and to publicize that success to gain additional staff buy-in or to make changes to the program. In addition, part of the process is to identify further opportunities for patient safety and quality improvement. Once these opportunities have been identified, the organization needs to be willing to implement changes to address the opportunities.

  12. Will your institution be able to reinforce and reward positive teamwork behaviors and improvements in processes?

    To become accepted practice, positive teamwork behaviors and improvements in processes and outcomes need to be reinforced and rewarded. Leaders, champions, instructors, and coaches should be willing to provide ongoing feedback to others within the institution. Successes need to be formally recognized and showcased throughout the organization. These activities help maintain the momentum needed to sustain a culture of safety and teamwork.

Return to Readiness Assessment

Page last reviewed April 2016
Page originally created August 2015
Internet Citation: Information Items. Content last reviewed April 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.