Skip to content

Team Building Article Critique Essay

The respondent sample reflected the population of health service managers in the State of Victoria, Australia. The survey respondents were requested to identify the competencies that they had seen in other team members which enhanced teamwork. We know that individuals often identify characteristics in others that are most like their own characteristics [31] which suggests that there is a chance the respondents reported characteristics most like the ones they themselves possessed and that were not necessarily related to effective teamwork. This risk was minimized by the questionnaire design that asked respondents to focus on an identified team, and an individual other then themselves who they perceived as having a positive impact on the team, and reporting on what they had observed. Another limitation is that the survey forced the respondents to identify their priorities within each of the skills, knowledge, traits and motives categories; while a set of competencies from all of these areas was identified, further study is required to rank the importance among the identified skills, knowledge, traits and motives.

Management team competencies

The management team competencies were strongly consistent with previous studies on teamwork performance. Three motives received the highest ranking of all the skills, knowledge, traits and motives; commitment to working collaboratively (64.1%), commitment to a quality outcome (69.2%) and commitment to organization (64.6%). Although not unequivocally supported through controlled experimental design, cross-sectional and case studies have suggested that teams with a climate of psychological safety [5,33] that encourages high levels of participation [34] toward clear goals [35,36] that enable high performance and quality expectations [34,37,38] demonstrate better team performance [33,39]. The respondents in this study consistently identified three motives that reflected these previous findings.

This study approached the issue of team performance from a different perspective than previous studies. Instead of team level analysis we focused on the perceptions of health care managers of individual characteristics that contributed most to team success, and yet the results still supported previous study. From the perspective of these respondent managers, individuals participating in management teams in health care organizations were considered to have the greatest impact on team performance when they demonstrated commitment to working collaboratively, commitment to the organization and commitment to a quality outcome. Of all of the skills, knowledge, traits and motives that were provided, the fact that over 60% of the management team respondents indicated the importance of these three motives lends strong support for team members who:

• demonstrate their commitment to the organization by communicating organizational goals and objectives and assisting their team colleagues to translate the needs of the organization into performance outcomes for the team, and

• demonstrate their commitment to collaboration and quality by facilitating the needed psychological safety among team members that enables them to discuss and learn from mistakes and to challenge their team colleagues when it is required for a quality outcome.

It is clear that more methodologically and statistically rigorous investigation is required to better confirm the relationships between the competencies identified in this study and the performance of teams in health sector organizations. While progressive human resource management promotes participation, training and teamwork consistent with the identified management competencies, healthcare organizations do not always provide best practice HRM [40-42], and the people side of management has often been ignored in the pursuit of health reform [43,44]. In addition the traditional training and socialisation of health professionals tends to emphasise individual skills, accountability and achievement [45] and the healthcare system continues to foster individual [46] and discipline-specific rewards, supervision and education which consistently leads to difficulties with collaboration across professions, and reliance on hierarchy to manage coordination needs and mediate conflict [42]. The strong support for leadership skills among management team members in this study holds up the notion that within healthcare, leadership that rests at the top of an authority hierarchy needs to be refocused to develop leaders throughout the organization [47]. There needs to be a radical shift in HRM practice [40] in health care to train, performance manage and reward practices that result in clinical and management leaders through the organization – leaders that can foster the organizational commitment and psychological safety that is likely to improve teamwork outcomes.

In healthcare, employee relationships and behaviours are often influenced by the highly professional nature of the workforce, where there is often stronger alliance to the profession than to the organization. Many managers are professionally trained clinicians [48], and they often continue clinical practice even when they have assumed a management role. The findings of this study reinforce previous research that has identified the need for management training of clinician leaders [49-51]. Although many of the competencies developed in clinical education and ongoing clinical practice are transferable to management, there are skill and knowledge deficits [51]. The transition from clinician to manager requires a substantial cognitive shift from a primary commitment to individual care to a community/organizational focus [28].

This study also highlighted differences in perceptions among male and female health service managers that may influence team behaviours and ultimately team effectiveness. The differences noted in the responses of the male and female managers appear consistent with previous study.

For example, male leaders have been found to be more transactional and derive their power from their position on the formal organizational structure [26]. In contrast, women tend to be more transformational and derive their power from personal characteristics. In this study the male respondents demonstrated this transactional nature, identifying ability to influence as a key teamwork skill, while the female respondents suggested negotiation, self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses and positive attitude were important. Studies have suggested that women managers in male-dominated industries employ more 'masculine' management characteristics [27], and we found similarities between the women in CEO positions and male respondents. For example, the female CEOs were less likely than the female respondents at other organizational levels to identify negotiation as an important teamwork skill. While more study of these differences and the impact on team performance is warranted, these results provide some support for the differences in styles of male and female managers.

Different levels of health service managers require different competencies. It has been suggested that front line and/or entry level positions rely on technical expertise, middle managers require greater skills in human resource management and the senior level roles need greater conceptual skills [17,28]. Often the senior roles are thought to focus more on managing output related organizational adaptation and change [29], while junior levels manage the technical operational aspects of the organization. The findings provided some support. The CEO respondents were more likely to stress commitment to the organization and less likely to indicate task completion. The senior and middle managers focused more on transactional skills, such as negotiation and these manager respondents also stressed self-directed learning to a greater extent.

Teamwork has a dramatic effect on organizational performance.

An effective team can help an organization achieve incredible results.

A team that is not working can cause unnecessary disruption, failed delivery and strategic failure.  

Nowadays it is almost impossible to avoid being a member of team. If you're not on an official team at work, chances are you function within one in one way or another. So it's important for your personal and career development to know your teamworking strengths and weaknesses.

This assessment helps you uncover common teamworking problems that you might be experiencing. Once you've completed the assessment, we direct you towards team tools that will help you to improve and develop these important skills.

For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score in the 'wrong direction'. When you are finished, please click the 'Calculate My Total' button at the bottom of the test.

(Questions 1, 11)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

Teams do not become effective overnight. Team building is a process that requires due attention and care. If you try to skip over important development stages, you risk not forming the solid foundation needed when trouble or setbacks occur.

To build, lead, or participate in a team requires an understanding of the stages of team development. Through extensive research, it has been found that successful teams have certain aspects of their development paths in common. The one that most people are aware of is Bruce Tuckman's Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing model.

Two other factors that significantly increase a team's chances of being effective are having a well thought out team orientation process, and developing a clear team charter. Both of these help you establish clear guidelines and set clear expectations. When the individuals on a team all know what they are supposed to be doing and how they are to go about doing it, you give the team a good start on maximizing performance. To read more about these processes see the Mind Tools articles on Successful Induction and Team Charters.

(Questions 2, 13)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

One of the best ways of improving people's performance is by providing information to team members about their individual performance, as well as the overall team performance. After all, how do you know what is working and what isn't if no one gives you an objective summary?

There are usually plenty of people around who are ready and willing to give you their opinions on this. Unfortunately, this information is often conveyed in a manner that causes resentment and animosity.

For feedback to be positive and growth-inspiring, it has to be delivered properly, with enough attention being paid to how the receiver is going to perceive and process it. To learn more on giving feedback, see our articles on Giving and Receiving Feedback, The GROW Model, and 360° Feedback.

(Questions 3, 9, 10)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

Articulating the team's vision is fundamental to developing a high performing team. It's the vision that motivates and directs a team to reach its goal.

The best teams invest a great deal of time and energy into exploring and understanding the overall purpose and vision of the team. From this vision, a set of goals and objectives emerges that helps the team stay focused and on track.

The key to using vision successfully is making the process of discovering it a participative one. You can tell a team what the vision is and team members may or may not agree that the cause is worth working hard for. If, however, you allow the team to explore the vision, to see how their specific roles fit into the big picture, and provide meaningful opportunities for team members to assist in the team's success, then you have the basis for a high performing team.

To learn more about tying vision to goals see Performance Management and KPIs, The Balanced Scorecard, and Management By Objectives. To learn where you sit on the participative management scale, see the article on the The Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid. The articles on Avoiding Micromanagement and Successful Delegation discuss why it is important to provide challenges to your team members and allow them to use their skills and abilities to the fullest.

(Questions 4, 12, 14)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

Conflict can be an inevitable consequence of working with other people. Opinions, values, styles, and a whole host of other differences provide more than enough grounds for disagreement. This disagreement is actually part of the reason why teams can be so effective – the more perspectives that go into a process, the better the end result. Usually!

Allowing the differences to get out of hand, though, causes unnecessary disruption and leads to breakdowns in working relationships. Team members and leaders should take it upon themselves to understand the basics of conflict management and also learn more about different styles and ways of thinking and working.

For more information on effectively managing conflict, see Managing Conflict, Theory X and Theory Y and Role Playing.

(Questions 6, 8, 15)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

The differences between how people work and view the world make for interesting conversations and dynamic teams. An effective team capitalizes on these natural differences and maximizes performance by putting the right people in the right roles.

The articles on RACI and Task Allocation discuss this exact issue and provide practical methods for getting the most out of your team.

Some research has also been done on the different types of roles people play within teams. While the jury is still out on the detail of this research, having insight into the types of roles that are taken on in teams can help you see which roles and behaviors are constructive and which ones aren't. Mind Tools has featured two such models of team roles: Belbin's Team Roles and Benne and Sheats' Team Roles.

(Questions 7)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

No matter what role a person plays in a team, or what tasks he or she has been assigned to, there is almost always room for personal improvement. When the individuals on a team are functioning at high capacity, the team can flourish as well.

This is a critical understanding in team performance. Although there is no "I" in "Team" you have to remember there is no team without individuals. You have to build and foster the skills in the individuals that are congruent with the needs of the team.

To do this, requires a solid understanding of training methods and ways of identifying the needs of the team members. The article on Successful Induction talks about setting out a training needs analysis from day one. The articles on Understanding Developmental Needs and Training Needs Assessment provide practical tips for identifying areas that need improvement.

(Questions 5)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

The last area of team functioning explored by this quiz covers how well you and your team are able to collaborate and understand the key issues facing the team. Again, this goes back to the idea of cohesion. Members of successful teams all head in the same direction, and work for the same purpose.

When priorities and goals diverge, tensions appear within the team, and the whole is often no longer greater than the sum of its parts. This is a fundamental issue for high performing teams. Consensus, consistency and agreement are vital for effective teamwork.

Even if your test score didn't point to this aspect of teamwork, the articles on Concept Attainment and the Delphi Technique are highly recommended.

Key Points

An effective team is much more than a bunch of people thrown together to accomplish a goal. Because teams are such an inherent part of how we work, it is easy to believe we know what makes a team perform well, however this is often not the case.

Using this test, you can uncover areas of improvement that will help you become a better overall team member and team builder.