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Written on 25th April 2023 by Nadine Silas-Richards

It is often said and believed that a team is as strong as its weakest link.  However, the true strength of a team lies not just in the skill mix of each team member but fundamentally, in the processes it develops and maintains as these serve to underpin how the team functions, how it executes its purpose and its efficacy in the execution of its role.

Effective processes for teams help to describe how tasks are carried out, providing operational guidelines and a focus for not only making them better but more importantly, building them around the individual needs of clients. 

As the Court of Protection Team continues to expand both in terms of its volume of clients and team size the development of a handbook of processes certainly continues to prove beneficial in not only settling in new starters, but also in improving efficiency by standardising processes across the team. An additional plus to this is increasing productivity and the opportunity for better self-reflection, tapping into the potential for innovation, monitoring and reviewing of the team performance.

Strong robust processes establishes where each piece fits into the puzzle, provides a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished and ensures that every team member is on the same page. As well as ensuring there is seamless fluidity in filling gaps when team members leave, there is great value in establishing multi-skill sets amongst team members as this not only maintains consistent standards and service delivery to clients but also just as importantly, gives a fuller understanding of everyone’s contribution and how that builds into the overall function of the team.

Important aspects and benefits of establishing and developing team processes include but are not limited to:-

  • helping to define the purpose of the team
  • enhancing cohesive working
  • determining team goals
  • combining individual resources
  • setting expectations
  • reducing stress
  • improving communication
  • increasing team effectiveness
  • removing fear and burnout
  • enabling creative working
  • minimising confusion
  • maintaining seamless service provision
  • promoting a positive working environment
  • creating opportunities for personal growth
  • achieving collective goals

Developing strong team processes helps to increase motivation, promoting diversity of thought by encouraging individuals to tap into their strengths.  It increases the resilience of a team by creating a useful resource with full team buy-in, in creating and supporting its development. It also provides a safe place and solid resource team members can tap into when verification/clarification on wider functions of the team may be required. 

Having established team processes in place enables the Court of Protection Team to continue to reflect on its growth and progression by providing a solid landing space for new members. It also allows for ease of tracking and implementation of changes in working practice directions.

Processes do need to be continually managed and revised in order to maintain the following: -

  • a co-ordination of workflow between teams
  • improved effectiveness of the process itself
  • maintained clarity of actions in achieving the desired result
  • focus on improving the predictability of the results
  • excluding unused processes
  • increase efficient use of time
  • reduced bottlenecking
  • continual improvement of turnaround time

The process handbook continues to provide efficient daily workflows, improved turnaround timescale and better expectation management.

After 28 years of working in the NHS I took the plunge and joined the Legal environment.  Whilst I was able to utilise many of my transferrable skills in the execution of my role, it was still necessary for me to quickly get to grips with many legal as well as general in-house administrative processes.  The only problem was that many of the processes being used were legal based and held as working experience by the specialists within my team, with everyone having a slightly different way of doing things.  This proved a bit of a frustration at times and left me feeling even very confused.

As someone with an appreciation for clarity and process based working I set about developing process maps for each area of work I was responsible for.  This enabled me to not only catalogue my own learning and development, have a clear reference point, but also to share what I learned and the processes I developed with other colleagues who joined the business after me, saving them the frustration of getting to grips with a new way of working. 

With the progression of time and the expansion of the Court of Protection team I felt it was important to develop a team handbook, cataloguing all the processes and work streams undertaken by the entire team and floated the idea. I was motivated to bring this to fruition as over the years I have seen the impact on newcomers to the team in trying to schedule shadowing team members in order to get to grips with how the team functions, but without a tangible reference point. A developed handbook resource has certainly been beneficial in assisting new team members in settling into the team and our Court of Protection way of working.  On reflection, I know how much I could have benefitted from having such a resource in place when I joined.

Our Court of Protection Handbook remains an active works in progress, that continues to develop over time.