Healthcare and Medicine Reference
In-Depth Information
Mason (1998) provides a description of a contentious team meeting
that sounds painfully familiar. She describes a highly competent supervi-
sor trying to supervise a group of very able professionals whom she is
trying to keep on budget and mission, with no success. Every time she
asks the team questions about client satisfaction in human service work,
productivity, or paperwork, she's told, in many different ways, that
she's interfering with the work they do with clients and that the clients
are all doing better than ever, although there is absolutely no evidence
provided or any reason to believe this. Secretly, Mason suggests, the work-
ers hate the way the supervisor dresses and tell jokes about her she has
heard from others. And further, she's agreed that decisions on this team
are all made by consensus—“no dictating please, we're professionals!” But
what she's really thinking is that a good dictator is just what is needed to
get these workers rolling. She's also thinking, “Do it! And do it right!”
(Er, please.) In short, she's thinking that teams don't work. “How can they
work with so many different personalities jostling against one another like
3-year-olds set loose on a tray of baked goods?” ( Mason, 1998, p. 33 ).
But, as Mason points out, people have a long history of working together.
She notes that “we got here as a species by collaborating with one
another. Teams are almost in the genes, but admittedly a number of bar-
riers get in the way such as confused objectives, unclear roles, poor deci-
sion making, and personality differences” (p. 33). Knock down these
barriers, she advises, to give your team a clear chance to be successful.
Glover (2002) believes that one of the reasons teams don't always work
well is the tendency to focus on group composition and whether people are
compatible with one another rather than focusing on whether they'll get
the job done. She writes, “Team-building can be detrimental to longer-
term development because it can make a team appear too close-knit and
make new members feel excluded” (p. 38). Glover reports that in studies of
teams, emotional intelligence is a significant factor in their success. She
recommends that teams include members who are practical, grounded,
have a good sense of how things work, and know what should be done to
complete the job. She reports that in research on whether teams work well,
work groups of six to eight members represent optimal size and seem to
work best. Teams are present-oriented but also work in the context of what
may need to be done in the future. Too many groups, she notes, do well
with current projects but are ill-equipped to deal with new challenges or
longer-term issues that are likely to define predictable future problems.
While leadership should be clear and the direction taken compelling, team
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