Teamwork Most Often Doesn’t
I work alone. And I am probably not alone in saying that. There are lots of team members who feel like they work the same way, thus defeating the whole purpose of the team. If you’ve ever been frustrated by this, you’re not alone. According to Dr. Steven Appelbaum’s "schizophrenic view of teams," most of the time teamwork doesn’t work. And at the PMCQ’s first breakfast meeting of the season, he showed why.
No one doubts that teamwork has value. Teams can increase productivity, improve communications, make better use of resources; they are often more creative with problem solving; they can even come up with high quality decisions. Of course, this is Appelbaum-in-the-sky. His research has shown that we live on myths about teams: teams need a single leader, strong leadership means success, team success is all that matters… Well, that’s just wrong. Appelbaum says that teams work best when leadership is shared or assigned according to the tasks at hand. You see, in order to "work," team members need to share common goals and each must be willing to work on achieving them. Team success is worthless if the task was pointless.
Dr. Appelbaum is Chair of Concordia University Research in Organizational Development and has done the research work. It’s unclear whether he achieved his results through teamwork, but let’s assume he did, since he knows how to make teams work. It’s about trust. His symptoms of a trustless team clearly identify where we’ve all gone wrong and it’s not pretty. However, Appelbaum pointed out a couple of significant team failures: Ford and NASA’s Challenger disaster. Both have recovered from serious defeats.
So, how do you get your team working? Start by taking a look at Dr. Appelbaum’s detailed and enlightening presentation below. These are valuable guidelines in team building and while some of his points may seem obvious, you can see where we’ve all gone wrong at one time or another. His research could help with the team you are on now—if your fellow team members share your sense of purpose, encourage differences of opinion, can focus on conflict and resolve it, are willing to balance roles, want to take risks and be creative, can develop a climate of trust… the list is exhaustive but following his advice could actually work. I may work alone… but not without a net.
By Rich Hammond
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