We all have heard throughout our lives the importance and value of teamwork. Even as children, on sports teams and in school, we have consistently been influenced by the concept of teamwork. Real teams out perform a cluster of people in a working group. There is a distinct performance difference between the two entities. So how do we take these long held beliefs that teamwork is more effective in driving performance and apply it to the workplace – especially, when we are living in an era where competition is the new collaboration? Is it really possible to bring teamwork to an environment where our role and the roles of others are currently viewed as being independent of the goals, objectives, and mission of the organization? The answer is, yes! We create integrated teams by implementing the skill sets of improved communication and cooperative attitude.
What is an integrated team? An integrated team is a group composed of people with different areas of expertise and knowledge. Members of this team function in harmony, contributing their respective technical and behaviour skills toward the completion of a task or the accomplishment of a goal. This team follows what the professional literature calls an integrated systems approach whereby the work is interconnected and the members are interdependent, so low performance in one segment of the system does not have disastrous effects on the performance of the entire system.
An American example is the Leadership Excellence Network, a health care collaboration between the National Center for Healthcare Leadership and General Electric which demonstrates the superiority of team decision making. Early results indicated improvements in organizational climate, better understanding of organizational goals and expectations, greater individual and leader accountability, lower turnover, and higher retention of leader candidates. There is a caveat, however, in that while an integrated team is most optimal during an organizational crisis, it is usually at this time that conflict is brought on by various factors, including, and most significantly, behavioural dysfunction among team members often resulting from by low trust, communication lapses, lack of accountability, and competing personal agendas.
Anyone can put together a working group and call it a team, but it takes an influential leader to be able to create and sustain a highly functional integrated team. Sustaining such a team requires the leader to provide guidance and needed resources and then, get out of the way and stay out of the way. Influential leaders know that micromanagement won’t work.
As leaders, we need to focus on forming teams whose members have behavioural competencies, including interpersonal skills that enhance the team members’ financial, operational, clinical, and human resources knowledge and abilities. Technical competence is necessary to performance but without behaviour competence, performance will stagnate. The good news is behaviour change is essential to performance and behaviour change is something you have absolute control over in developing and blending of both technical and behaviour competence.
Remember that we rarely get the relationships we wish for, but we do get the relationships we work for. As you seek to expand your leadership influence in the growth of your professional career to achieve performance excellence – behaviour change using your positive emotional energy is the real change you can make.