Nuclear Team skills Taxonomy



The purpose  was to identify the team skills required by nuclear power plant operations team members. An initial domain familiarization consisted of a review of company documentation; observations in the control room, on-plant and in the simulator; and role interviews. In the second phase, Critical Incident Technique (CIT) interviews were carried out with 38 operations team members on three British nuclear power plants. A total of 314 statements concerned with teamworking skills were identified from the interview data and used to develop the nuclear team skills taxonomy. The taxonomy had five categories: shared situation awareness, team focused decision making, communication, co-ordination, and influence, with 16 component elements. The taxonomy could be used to evaluate team skills, identify team training requirements, and for mishap investigation.


Acceptable levels of reliability were obtained between raters in the development of the taxonomy. However, no assessment was made in the use of the taxonomy for, for example, observation.

Author of Tool:

O’Connor, O’Dea, Flin

Key references:

O’Connor, P., O’Dea, A., & Flin, R. (2008). Identifying the team skills required by nuclear operations personnel. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 38, 1028-1037.

Primary use / Purpose:

To provide a framework for assessing the team skills of nuclear power generation operations personnel.


Nuclear team skills taxonomy (O’Connor et al, 2008)


Category Elements Definition Example





Building situation awareness


Develop understanding

Analyzing and sharing the information in order to develop an accurate model of the problem or task. The CCR team had to think back to what was being done just prior to the power loss in order to identify what might

have caused the power loss.





Forward planning to identify and discuss contingency strategies and/or possible future problems.

A consideration that they kept in mind at this time was: if they had come off, then the whole side of the country might have

lost electrical supply.


Maintain overview

Retaining a broad picture of a task or situation without becoming involved in the details. The SCE took the bigger picture while the other CCR personnel dealt with the



Performance monitoring

Observing the activities and performance of other team members. CCR Supervisor took account of the inexperience of the desk engineer and kept a watchful

eye on what he was doing.





Team focused decision making

Analytical decision making Gathering and integrating information from team members,

selecting the best solution, and evaluating the consequences.

The CCR team had to decide whether to trip the reactor or stay on load.


Following written procedures. Operations Technicians work to

the job instructions.

Intuitive decision making Associating cues in the environment to appropriate corrective actions and making a


The CCR team was responding to alarms, and reacting to the system.


Using judgment to make decisions and carry out tasks without needing to be told what to do. The Team Leader heard about this on the radio and thought it

sounded strange, and went over to investigate the problem.

Category Elements Definition Example





Communicating ideas and observations in a manner which is

persuasive to other team members.

The Operation Technicians had to tell the control room

personnel to wait.

Information exchange Exchanging information clearly

and accurately between team members.

The Plant Engineer was kept

informed of how things were progressing.







Reacting flexibly to changing requirements of a task or situation. UDEs from another shift were

in the control room at this time working as a single team.

Supporting behaviour Giving help to other team members in situations in which it was

thought they need assistance.

If someone is struggling, and the operation technician is not

busy, he will come and help.


workload management

Prioritizing and coordinating tasks and resources. There was a need to prioritize activities.


Category Elements Definition Example










Directing and coordinating the activities of, and motivating other team members, assessing team performance, and establishing a positive


The CCR Supervisor directed the activities on the desk.


Two or more team members working together on a task which requires meaningful task interdependence without any



At times like that the generation team ‘muck-in’ together to get jobs done.



Co-operating in the accomplishment of a task as directed by a more senior team


The operation technicians needed to work to the directions of the control room personnel

as required.