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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
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Improvement Teams

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: The Power of Teams

Part 3: Selecting Members for a Team

Part 4: Defining Roles and Responsibilities

Part 5: Stages of Team Growth

Part 6: Tips from Successful Teams

Part 7: Supporting Information

Part 4: Defining Roles and Responsibilities 

Within a QI team, members often organize themselves to effectively accomplish the work by defining specific roles. Multiple roles may be fulfilled by one person, and some roles may be rotated among team members. The following is a list of key team roles:

  • Team Leader fully understands the processes targeted for improvement and the breadth of the project in order to effectively lead team meetings.
  • Team Facilitator assists the team leader in planning meetings and developing agendas. The Team Facilitator tends to the meeting process by ensuring the participation of all team members, monitoring the agenda, and keeping track of time.
  • Team Members agree to contribute their knowledge and insights to QI project. They agree to support suggested improvements in their areas of the organization to facilitate buy-in for changes that result in improvement. For clinical performance improvement work, having a physician or provider champion on the team is important. The champion should have a good working relationship with colleagues and the day-to-day leader(s), and be interested in driving change in the system. A physician/provider who is an opinion leader in the organization makes an effective champion.

This chart in Table 4.1 further illustrates roles and responsibilities for QI team members: (3)

Table 4.1: Roles and Responsibilities for Team Members 

Provide direction and focus to team activitiesX  
Ensure productive use of team members' time X 
Represent team to clinic management and quality committeX  
Facilitate team meetings X 
Ensure balanced participation by all team members X 
Provide feedback and support to team leader X 
Suggest problem-solving tools and techniquesXXX
Offer perspective and ideas and participate activelyXXX
Adhere to meeting ground rulesXXX
Complete assignment on timeXXX
Support implementation of recommendationsXXX
Keep up-to-date on QI training, research and methodsXX 
Manage the team's timeXX 
Take and distribute minutes of meetings  X

Each team member may have a different communication and social style. These differing styles serve to move the team forward when the interaction is constructive and all members are focused on a common goal. At times, there may be less harmony, and a team needs guidance to use its diversity to an advantage. There are many resources available that describe successful strategies in managing team dynamics. [link to resources section at the end of this module] In successful QI teams, members are flexible, embrace diverse ideas, constructively leverage conflict, and contribute to the teams’ achievements of completing their QI projects.

Orient the Team to the Work

With the new team formed, it is critical to align expectations for the work to be performed. Building a sense of “team” and generating enthusiasm for the work are also important from the beginning. The team leader is responsible for these tasks, and often a QI Project Launch meeting is held. Critical elements of the launch meeting include:

  1. Introduce the members and identify team roles.
  2. Clarify why improvement is necessary and define the aim for improvement, which is outlined in the QI Project documentation.
  3. Provide general ground rules about how the team will function, such as, meeting times, expectations for punctuality and participation, record keeping, and accountability of the team and its members.
Guide the Work

The work of the team is to design, manage, and monitor performance improvement activities to achieve the aim of the QI Project. This work is more specifically detailed in the Performance Management and Measurement module. The team leader must orchestrate this work and ensure that the system changes, suggested by the team and tested by staff, result in the desired improvement. A well-functioning team directly correlates to a successful completion of the project. There are many available resources regarding team building, team dynamics, and overcoming challenges in teamwork.

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