Geography No Barrier To Great Teamwork

01 Sep 2016

You don’t have to be in the same town to be part of a great team. There is no greater proof of this than the South Island Safety 1st system administrator (sys admin) team, which is responsible for maintaining and improving our regional electronic risk management system (incidents, feedback, risk register), Safety 1st.

This unique, high-functioning, multidisciplinary and inter-district team has five members – one from each South Island DHB. Each member represents their local DHB (some have additional roles in their DHB) but together they work regionally – and they all agree regional comes first.

“It’s quite a new approach but it’s a simple concept to grasp really; it just takes a change in mindset,” says Martin Hucklesby, Nelson Marlborough DHB representative. “It’s easy to get bogged down in local issues – we just keep reminding ourselves that it’s a regional system and we are a regional team.”

The other four sys admins who make up the South Island team are: Vicki Piner (West Coast DHB), Penny Dewar (South Canterbury DHB), Ian Densie (Southern DHB) and Jamie Clarke (Canterbury DHB).

Despite the geographical distance, this team is tight. They talk every day and support each other in many different ways – whether it’s sharing a problem, venting frustrations or providing a new perspective.

They even cover leave for each other despite having different employers. “We are all in the same boat so we share our problems. There’s a lot of trust within the group and mutual support,” says Martin. Jamie agrees, “This is the best team I’ve worked with; we all clicked straight away and we are all willing to help each other.”

In this diverse yet close-knit team, everyone brings something different to the table. Vicki explains, “We are five brains working on one system, which means five times more potential and five times the number of good ideas.” And yet, Ian points out, “We are becoming more alike than different in our thinking.”

The South Island sys admin team is currently working on the outcomes of the recent Safety 1st Health Check, a six month performance review of the system. This involves local consultation and agreement; requiring compromise, understanding and respect for others. We are all very aware that we are part of something much bigger. We have to consider how our decisions affect others,” says Penny.

Vicki explains why, “A small local change to the system can have a huge impact across the region. If we lose the connection we have with each other it would have a snowball effect – it wouldn’t just compromise the effectiveness of the group, it would compromise the integrity of the whole system.”

To keep their connection, the sys admins teleconference weekly and email daily, but face to face gets the best results. Penny says, “Because most of us have split roles, being able to spend two full days wearing just one of our hats means we get results quicker.” Ian agrees, “Getting together helps us to refocus and support each other, and we get to have some healthy, robust debate.”


Published on: Thursday, September 1st, 2016, under Information services