The Myth of Teamwork?

February 28, 2011

I just read Skip Weisman’s blog about the “Myth of Teamwork” and was impressed.  Not because I think teamwork is a myth, but because it’s high time someone took a look at why teamwork isn’t successful many times.

It is because individual team members fail.

However, I think that Skip misses the fact that teamwork is more than just the actions associated with working as part of a team.  It is a culture, a mindset, a way of working and winning together, not just as individuals.

But it does start with individuals.

The Problem of Teamwork in Certain Cultures

A teamwork mindset requires confidence in others.  Continual failure by fellow team members creates  a disincentive to rely on someone else, the very foundation of teamwork.

Therefore, for it to be effective, members of the team must do their work effectively and earn the trust of their peers.  Otherwise, people resort to depending on themselves primarily (“it’s faster if I do it myself” mentality), a fatal blow not just to the concept of teamwork, but delegation and collaboration as well.

Organizations that hire great people and teach those great people to understand and trust each other, incubate more than just a teamwork culture.

They incubate success.

On the flip side, teamwork is a joke in organizations that hire sloppy people and then allow poor performance to continue, while at the same time preaching that people need to work together.  The second part of teamwork is “work”, and it needs to be done well for teamwork to succeed.  Otherwise, they’d be better off letting their few “All Stars” do the process or project themselves, rather than introducing broken cogs into the system.

I can’t count how many times leaders in organizations I’ve assisted have lost focus on cleaning up poor individual work performances, and have instead brought in consultants to help do fruitless team building exercises.

Without individual success, teamwork is indeed a waste of time.

One Idea for Team Building

We have to listen to our staff and actively seek their feedback.  If your team is dysfunctional, it’s time to ask your team why.  When dealing with team problems, I always start by interviewing everyone involved and asking what the problem is.

Nine times out of ten, they have the answer already figured out.  They almost always know if they should trust their teammates to finish their part correctly, and encouraging them to “work together” is frustrating and pointless.

For true team building, leaders must hold their individual team members to a high standard first (build trust in performance), then help them see the excellence they each bring to a project (understanding).  Only at that point will the handoffs  be smooth, the communication open, and synergies will begin to appear.

Have an excellent night,

Aaron Biebert


Don’t Use Vinegar

December 19, 2010

It sounds like a simple idea to be considerate when asking someone to go above and beyond (pick up extra shifts or take on an extra project).  However, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard or seen people in the world try to “attract bees” with vinegar instead of honey. 

Are you seeing stuff like this too?  (not just in movies)

Um, yeah, we’re going to need you to come in and work tomorrow.”

or how about what I call the “Leave 17 Voicemails” approach?

It just doesn’t work.  Kindness is key.

  • Ask, don’t tell.
  • Say please and thank you.
  • Show that you care.
  • Explain why you need it.
  • No means no.  If they say no, move on.  (They might say yes in the future if you don’t ruin the relationship)
  • Be pleasant.

Also, it’s important to surround yourself with caring, respectful people so that you can be caring, respectful back.  It makes for a nice situation.

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About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI and is the President of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare. 


The Hierarchy of Teamwork

December 2, 2010

Over the years I’ve had the honor of helping organizations make big changes in the way they do things during challenging times.  Turnaround projects are not for everyone, but I really love the challenge and the difference it can make.  I affectionately call them my “Extreme Makeover:  Healthcare Edition” projects.

For a speech I gave at the Midwestern Practice Management Symposium this fall, I had a reason to organize my thoughts on a simple plan to develop teamwork and change not only practices, but hearts as well.  Somehow this hierarchy developed into a simple acronym:  TRUCK

Here were my thoughts…

1) Kindness – It’s the beginning of any good relationship.  In a cold world, authentic kindness stands out and opens doors.  Even in a big organization, stories are shared.  “They don’t care how much you know, unless they know how much you care.”

2) Connection – Once they “care how much you know”, you can begin using your interactions (even electronic ones) to build a relationship.  Kind, meaningful interactions are the bond that creates a connection.  This may actually mean that you try to meet every person in your organization or division.  It’s not easy (believe me), but if you want to lead, you must connect.  I think this is actually the most important and sometimes most difficult step.  It makes or breaks leaders and teams.

3) Understanding – Once you build a connection and communication channels are open,  an understanding of one’s motives and qualities grows.  This is where it gets to be a challenge for some.  The more they understand you, the more they have to find what they need in order for you to be successful.  This is why the right people need to be in the right place.  You don’t have to be perfect or act like you’re in a popularity contest, but your motives and values must be absolutely unshakeable and consistent.

4) Respect – If they understand your strengths and proper motivation, respect will develop at some level. 

5) Trust – Finally, trust comes when they respect you and believe that you’ll use your skills and abilities to support them in their work.  It is the difference between knowing someone can catch you and believing they actually will.

Once you have their trust, you can make big changes:  change hearts, change minds, change cultures.  You can move mountains. 

TRUCK may be just another silly acronym, but hopefully this concept of a hierarchy can help guide the process for building teamwork or how a Servant Leader can grow a strong organization and deliver results. 

Let me know what you think.  It’s a work in progress.

 

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About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare. 


Part 3: How to Start Using Social Media

November 10, 2010

In my last couple posts, I hope I’ve done a decent job of convincing you that Social Media might be worth a try.  Now the question is “How?”

The first step is to join some of the free Social Networking sites available.  I’ll talk more in-depth about each one in following posts, but first we need to pick a couple to start with, visit their home page, and register. 

Which ones to join?

There are literally thousands of different social networks to choose from, but for starters, I recommend starting with these two:

facebook.com – Their stated goal is to recreate the human network, and they’ve done so quite successfully.  With active groups, helpful pages, and a system that allows you to focus on people you know, this social network of over 550,000,000 people is the gateway to the world of Social Media.  It’s not just for college kids anymore (you might be surprised how many of your friends are on it).

Linkedin.com – This network of more than 80,000,000 is primarily for leaders and professionals.  With excellent groups and many of your colleagues already on there, it’s a great place to share professional information and stay informed.  Every Fortune 500 company has members on it, and it’s a must for anyone looking to lead others during this digital age.

(Extra Credit)  

twitter.com – If you’ve already joined facebook and Linkedin and find yourself looking to try more, I recommend twitter.  Twitter is simple.  Twitter is easy.  160,000,000 people are using twitter to share bite sized (140 characters or less) messages with the world.  You can follow the “tweets” of industry leaders, colleagues, consultants, and friends as they share news, links, videos, and blog postings.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them as comments here on the blog site and my colleagues and I will attempt to answer them as best as we can.

What’s next? 

I’ll dive into the professional side of facebook.com and discuss how you can make it work for your work in the healthcare industry.  The following day, we’ll focus Linkedin.com.  If you’d like to get these sent to you via email, just subscribe on the upper right side of ClearMatters.com.

See you tomorrow!

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About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare. 


The Thing about Social Media

November 7, 2010

 

Do you remember when email was the “new thing”? 

How about the internet, word processors, or even computers?  It sounds funny now, but I remember people doubting if those tools would be anything more than just a passing fad.  Fast forward to 2010 and I earnestly believe that Social Media is the same sort of “new thing” that we’ll need to learn and embrace to be effective leaders in the coming years.

The only reason I bring this up now is that my last post about “Social Surgery” caused quit a stir.  However, despite all the publicity surrounding social networking, I still see a lot of healthcare leaders questioning the need to join and engage on any social networks at all (i.e. Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter).  They just don’t see the need. 

Maybe I can help by sharing some of my experiences and research.

All around the world, social media is helping build revolutionary communities that are impacting how people get their information.  Just recently, a study showed that 3 out of 4 Americans get their news from social media or email.  Never before has information or peer support been more available, and social media is playing a big role.

In addition to gathering information and finding free support from peers, social media also makes information about you and your organization (both good info and bad) easier to find and share.  If you’re a leader at a medical facility, this could potentially make your work life easier or more difficult, depending on your ability to recognize both the opportunities and threats facing your department or organization stemming from Social Media.

Learning about Social Media is key, just like learning how to use email was important years ago.

Next week on Tuesday, I’ll be doing a webinar for my HFMA chapter called “Making Social Media Work for You”, and I’ll be sharing some thoughts and research in a series of short morning blog posts until then.  Hopefully they’ll be good practice for my HFMA webinar and helpful for anyone wondering about the value and future of social media. 

If you’re interested in the discussion, comments are encouraged and you can subscribe to the blog postings on the upper right hand side of the ClearMatters.com blog website.

Have a great Sunday!

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About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare. 


Who would you rather work with?

July 2, 2010
 

Some of you may have already seen this story from Seth Godin, but it begs the question: “Who would you rather work with?”    

A small island grows sugar cane. Many people harvest it, and one guy owns the machine that can process the cane and turn it into juice.    

Who wins?   

Sugar Cane Machine

 

The guy with the machine, of course. It gives him leverage, and since he’s the only one, he can pay the pickers whatever he likes–people will either sell it to him or stop picking. No fun being the cane picker. He can also charge whatever he likes to the people who need the cane juice, because without him, there’s no juice. No fun being a baker or cook. But now, a second machine comes to the island, and then three more. There are five processors.    

Now who wins?    

Certainly not the guy with the first machine. He has competitors for the cane. He can optimize and work on efficiency, but pretty soon he’s going to be in a price war for his raw materials (and a price war for the finished product). Not so much fun to be the factory owner. And then! And then one cane processor starts creating a series of collectible containers, starts interacting with his customers and providing them with custom blends, starts offering long-term contracts and benefits to his biggest customers, and yes, even begins to pay his growers more if they’re willing to bring him particularly sweet and organic materials, on time. In short, he becomes a master of the art of processing and marketing cane. He earns permission, he treats different people differently and he refuses to act like a faceless factory…    

Who are you?  Who are we?      

Obviously we don’t work in the sugar industry, but we think the principle of treating people differently applies. We know there are many choices of who to work with, and we respect that and try to be different. How can we be better?    

    

     

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About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare.


A Caring Attitude

April 13, 2010

The economy has eased our worker shortage temporarily, but I have no doubt it will be back very soon.  With healthcare reform to add 32,000,000 new patients to a system already facing a retiring baby boomer generation, this is going to get very interesting…and stressful.

In an industry with unlimited choices, where will all the talent go? 

I believe they will seek to work with servant leaders who are knowledgeable, engaged, and caring.  With burnout reaching epidemic proportions, and many medical professionals re-evaluating their career paths, caring will not only lead to your success as a leader, but to an increased quality of life for your people. 

If you want to compete and make a difference, you will need to have an attitude of caring…and mean it.

That’s why it made my top 4.

Does it make yours?

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About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare.


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