A team is a group of people who are collectively accountable and responsible for specific outcomes, and have a high degree of interdependence and interaction (Baldwin, Bommer, and Rubin 2008).
Besides, teams are supposed to work collaboratively towards achieving a high level of performance, possess complementary skills, trust in one another, commit to a common purpose, and have goals (both explicit and implicit) for which members are held mutually accountable (Katzenbach and Smith 1993).
Thus, team working has a perceptible likeness to “harnessing a crab, a swan, and a pike onto a single wagon and expecting them to move” (Tubin and Levin-Rozalis, 2008).
Needless to say, the aforementioned creatures have dissimilar adaptations and there is no propinquity between them. In other words, they differ in nature and more so culturally incongruous.
So, in order to get them “moving” together effectively, they must first learn how to do that, in other words, they must undergo group process to unlock the innate barriers (Bushe and Coetzer, (2007).
To put it metaphorically, tying “a swan, a crab and a pike” and tasking them to “move” together smoothly without tackling the inherent barriers would be an uphill task by all means. For it is apparent that they would not be able to communicate with one another initially.
For example, “a swan may speak swanese language”; a crab speaks “crabi” language and a pike probably speaks “pikian” language.
Again, they are different creatures and therefore have different ways of doing things.
Patently, there are inequalities between them, although the three creatures all have some kind of sea life knowledge, needless to say, they have differing adaptations. For instance, a swan can fly, a crab can only probably swim and crawl, on the other hand, a pike cannot fly but may swim adequately. In essence, they may not understand each other, hence the need to assimilate or undergo group process. Unsurprisingly, therefore, inequalities between professional groups have been identified as hindrance to collaboration (Millward and Jeffries, 2001).
Apparently, learning to work collaboratively and share new knowledge across professional boundaries can be a complicated and challenging process (Wenger, 1998; Gilley and Kerno, 2010).
Moreover, while group or team working can be a challenge, there is an established recognition of the importance of frameworks, interpretive models, systems and flexible methodologies in enabling groups, or specific teams, to identify common values and learn to handle challenges and work collaboratively and systematically to achieve a common goal (Checkland & Poulter, 2006).
Succinctly put, groups need to develop into effective teams in order to be able to coordinate individual activities for pragmatic outcomes (Hoegl and Gemuenden, (2001).
Consequently, Hoegl (2005) posit that the quality of teamwork can comprehensively be assessed by considering six thematic factors of the collaborative work process: communication, coordination, and balance of member contributions, mutual support, effort, and cohesion.
The six teamwork quality facets espouse elements of both task-related and social interaction within teams (Cummings, 1978; Hoegl et al., 2003).
For example, let us consider a team consisting of a community nurse, a psychologist and a social worker, who have the responsibility of working collaboratively in order to safeguard and/or enhance patient care. Obviously, the aforementioned professionals have different cultures; professional inequalities, varying abilities and skills. So, in order to be able to achieve pragmatic outcomes, they would have to interact effectively and break the inherent barriers. In essence, the professionals have to identify themselves with the team (Bushe and Coetzer (2007).
Some experts however posit four pillars of an effective integrated team as degree of integration, team membership, team process issues, and team management (Øvretveit 1997).
While Baker, Day, & Salas, (2006) observe that service delivery is a joint effort by team members, whose tasks, interaction and collaboration need to be synchronised.
Similarly, team collaboration has been identified as a shared aims, interdependence, and a collegial and equal relationship between the participants and shared decision-making efforts (D’Amour, Ferrada-Videla, San Martín-Rodriquez, & Beaulieu, 2005).
In the same vein, Housley, (2003) notes that the development of effective teams involves examining work and the object of work as a whole, integrating competence and expertise from various areas in the team. The expectation is that team collaboration would enhance quality of service delivery (Baker et al., 2006).
Besides, the aim of team collaboration is to strengthen the effectiveness of service delivery by strengthening integrated working across board (D’Amour et al., 2005). Nevertheless, Moore (2007) postulates that despite its importance, collaborative working has been identified as extremely complex due to many diversities and disparities in professional practice such as values and professional inequalities.
There is also a school of thought that argues that collaborative working is often marked by fragmentation, competing priorities, arbitrary divisions of responsibility, inconsistent policy, unpooled resources and unshared boundaries (Hannigan, 1999).
What’s more, the absence of coordination, unpooled resources and lack of operational integration produce wasteful and inefficient services (Hannigan, 1999).
Despite the apparent umpteen challenges associated with team working, some optimists however contend that in the presence of periodic on-job training courses, effective interactions, mutual respect and understanding, the team can work synergistically towards achieving a common goal (Reeves et al. 2009).
In essence, Mahama’s team which is similitude to that of “a crab, a swan and a pike” would definitely require all the attributes of an effective team before they can achieve the desired objectives.
K. Badu, UK.
Baker, D. P., Day, R. & Salas, E. (2006). Teamwork as an Essential Component of High Reliability Organisations.
Baldwin, T. T., Bommer, W. H., & Rubin, R. S. (2008). Developing management skills. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Bushe, G. R. And Coetzer, G. H. (2007). Group Development and Team Effectiveness: Using Cognitive Representations to Measure Group Development and Predict Task Performance and Group Viability.
Checkland, P. & Poulter, J. (2006). Learning for Action. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.
Cummings, T. (1978). Self-Regulating Work Groups: A Sociotechnical Synthesis.
D’Amour, D., Ferrada-Videla, M., Rodriguez, L.S.M., & Beaulieu, M.D. (2005). The Conceptual Basis for Inter-Professional Collaboration: Core Concepts and Theoretical Frameworks.
D’Amour, D. & Oandasan, I. (2005). Inter-Professionality as the Field of Inter-Professional Practice and Inter-Professional Education: An Emerging Concept.
Gilley, A. & Kerno, S. J. (2010). Teams, and Communities of Practice: A Comparison.
Hannigan, B. (1999). Joint Working in Community Mental Health: Prospects and Challenges.
Hoegl, M. & Gemuenden, H. G. (2001). Teamwork Quality and the Success of Innovative Projects: A Theoretical Concept and Empirical Evidence.
Hoegl, M. (2005). Smaller Teams–Better Teamwork: How to Keep Project Teams Small.
Housley, W. (2003). Interaction in Multidisciplinary Teams. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Katzenbach, J. R. & Smith, D. K. (1993). The Discipline of Teams.
Millward, L.J. & Jeffries, N. (2001). The Team Survey: a Tool for Health Care Team Development.
Moore, L. J. (2007). The Ethical and Organisational Tensions of Developing the Work based Inquirer.
Øvretveit, J. (1997). How to Describe Inter-Professional Working. In: Øvretveit, J., Mathias, P. & Thompson, T. (Eds.), Inter-Professional Working for Health and Social Care (p. 9–33). London: Macmillan.
Reeves, S., Rice, K., Conn, L. G., Miller, K-L., Kenaszchuk, C., Zwarenstein, M. (2009). Inter-Professional Interaction, Negotiation and Non-Negation on General Internal Medicine Wards.
Tubin, D. & Levin-Rozalis M. (2008). Interorganizational Cooperation - The Structural Aspect of Nurturing Trust.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."
Reproduction is authorised provided the author's permission is granted.