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


The Olympics for the Rest of Us

March 1, 2010

This was a note written earlier by one of the members of our healthcare team. His passionate words do a great job of summarizing the way we feel about our work. We are one team, with one dream. To be the best for YOU and everyone else in the medical field!

__________________________________________________________

For Jenni, Ryan, Jane, Steve, Shannon, Sherry, Ashley, Lindsay, and the others working closely with me on our team.  This “little” note is for you.  You are my fellow Olympians, you are my team!  

This afternoon as I watched the Winter Olympics on TV with my wife and kids, I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness or a bit of jealousy about the Olympians’ chance to compete to be the best in the world at what they do. As an athlete in the 80’s, I still remember the thrill of getting ready for the big game and thinking of what that would mean to lose…or more importantly what it would mean to win.

It was a real gut check!

Before games, I would always remember all the hard work that went into training and practicing with the team. Hours and hours would be spent repeating the same drills over, and over, and over again. Muscles burning, sweat pouring down, out of breath…was it worth it?

Well, after a losing effort that same hard work I just mentioned above made a loss even harder and more painful to deal with. BUT, in that moment in time when you win, when the clock hits 00:00 when you’ve got more points, or the when you cross the finish line in first, OH HOW GREAT THAT FEELS!!

Yes, and in that moment of victory, it is the hard work that makes it even sweeter!

However, just like many of us, I am now too old to compete at that level. The stadium lights have dimmed. Echoes of the final buzzer have long since faded and my fellow athletes and I have all retired and join the ranks of fans that once cheered them on to victory.

So it is, that as I watched these Olympians giving their all, many of them for the last time, I felt a little jealous of their chance to work hard to be the best at what they do.

But that’s not it…

As the afternoon continued on, a new idea hit me over the head. Maybe I do actually find myself on a new team. The Clear Medical Solutions team!

Years after I ran my last drill, had my final team practice, and wore that uniform for the last time; I am once again part of a team that is competing at the highest levels to be the very best at what they do.

Yeah, I know it might sound a little crazy.  After all, who really believes that work can be as great as the sports of our youth, or even close to the Olympics? 

But as I gave this crazy idea more thought, I was able to make the connection.

Just like those Olympians who train day in and day out for week and weeks, for years and years, I too get up every morning and work all day (and sometimes evenings too) with an amazing team filled with leaders, nurses, consultants, therapists, staff members, super agents, and all kinds of other great medical people. All focused on one thing.

Being the best we can be.

And just like those athletes, we make mistakes and get exhausted during training. Also, there are injuries and losses that make us sometimes question our abilities to be the best. There are days that I am driven to my knees by a loss, but also there are moments of victory that I am soaring with the birds.

However, despite any bumps in the way and mistakes that I’ve made, one thing is certain: We are on our way to Olympic gold!

To the nurses, therapists, aides, and doctors on the team:  Thank you for your gold medal quality caring for the patients we serve. Behind everything we do, it is the patients that we have in mind. You are the final stage of that goal, and our entire team stands behind you.

To the leaders, consultants, and office experts on the team:  Thank you for helping make the way we care for each other and our patients work better. And thanks for helping make the way we do it more efficient and more compliant with the millions of rules out there.

To the girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands, children, friends, siblings, parents, and other family members that have stood behind our team:  Thank you for being there for us day after long day. Just like those Olympic athletes, we are following our dreams and it feels good to have your support. We’re sorry for the days we are stressed out and we’re thankful that you are there to share our victories.

To the leaders that have chosen to work with our team:  Thank you for believing in us and giving our team the opportunity to practice our art and do what we love. We never forget that it is your trust in us that makes this all possible, and we appreciate you for that.

To each of my teammates, partners, clients, and supporters I want to say “Thank You”! It continues to be the thrill of a lifetime, and we are making a real different not only in the lives of patients everywhere, but in the lives of each other.

And that is something just as special to celebrate!

To everyone else that is out there competing for “Olympic Gold” in your area of passion, keep at it. In this economy I see a lot of people questioning themselves and their abilities. Stick with what you love, and keep your chin up! We still live in the land of opportunity, and I know for a fact that when you mix very hard work with passion, you get something truly golden.

As you cheer for your favorite athletes as they compete in the Olympics, I hope you will remember our team too. We continue working towards the gold medal, towards that goal of being the very best in the world. I hope you will cheer for us, share our story, or even join us if you share our passion for people.

Have a great weekend and I hope you enjoyed the Winter Games!


%d bloggers like this: