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26.03.2005 Feature Article

A Minister Of State Calls For Teamwork

A Minister Of State Calls For Teamwork
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- A Sign of Sound Management And Pragmatism. Reference: News of Thursday, 3 March 2005

The Hon. Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, Minister for Manpower, Youth and Employment has “called for teamwork among heads of departments and agencies to ensure a change in the image and perception of the Ministry”.

Team learning/team building/team effort/teamwork (whichever description you choose) being one of the effective management tools within both the private and public sectors, the Hon. Minister has rightly spelt out one of the productivity enhancing practices within both sectors.

For a considerably period of time now, some Ghanaian public sector practitioners, with the wrong notion of 'Knowledge is Power', have been working in isolation from their team members (supervisors, peers and subordinates) whilst at the same time hiding some useful information required to be shared by the relevant staff members of the department or agency in their operational activities. This sort of behaviour produces nothing but non-productivity, inefficiency, ineffectiveness and mediocrity at the workplace.

It is about time that we did away with this mentality of 'stove piping' and tore down the 'barriers of isolationism' and promote a workplace characterised by systems thinking, vision sharing and team effort for a conducive working environment that will enhance production of positive outcomes on time, on budget whilst meeting the quality requirements. And probably it will be more effective if teamwork is applied across board – inter Ministry/Department rather than intra Ministry/Department.

Teamwork, from management perspective, is an ingredient of a learning organisation. By a learning organisation we mean as the world becomes more interconnected and business becomes more complex and dynamic, work must become more 'learningful'. It is no longer sufficient to have one person learning for the whole organisation. It is just not possible any longer to “figure it out” from the top of the organisational structure and have everyone else following the orders of the “grand strategist”. The organisations (public or private) that will truly excel in the future will be the organisations that discover how to tap people's commitment and capacity to learn at all levels in an organisation.

Learning organisations are possible because, deep down, we are all learners. It should be recognised, at this juncture, that learning organisations are possible because not only is it our nature to learn but we love to learn. Most of us at one time or another have been part of a great “team” in both the public and private sectors, a group of people who functioned together in an extraordinary way – who trusted one another, who complemented each others' strengths and compensated for each others' limitations, who had common goals that were larger than individual goals, and who produced extraordinary results.

To reinforce the Hon. Minister's management approach, particularly in this era of 'Public Sector Reforms', let's set aside old ways of thinking, become self-ware and open to others, learn how the whole organisation works, understand and agree to a plan of action, and last but not least let's apply team learning, teamwork, team effort to accomplish the plan efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. Charles Agyeman Manu MEng, MAppSc, MBA. Assistant Director, Professional Development, Australian Public Service. Member, National Institute for Governance, Australia Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.