Team Work Essay

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Introduction

Teamwork is essential to the smooth running of many projects, organisations and companies. Much research has been conducted into the effectiveness of teams and their contributions to organisational success.

This essay considers one particular team consisting of two student nurses (members A and B) and 4 student radiographers (members C, D, E, and F), all 3rd year degree-level, whose task was to produce a poster for assessment over a one week period.

Theory and models of teamwork will be used to discuss all aspects of this team including team roles, communication, conflict and decision-making. Conclusions will then be drawn as to how the team could have been more effective in their completion of the task.

Throughout, more general considerations of teams and teamwork in organisations will be made where appropriate. Interprofessionalism will also be considered.

This essay will use the terms team and group interchangeably with the same meaning.

Method

The information for this essay has been gathered by the author through personal experience. As the author was part of the team concerned this is not a truly observational study. It does, however, allow the author to have more insight into the personal views and feelings of the team members.

A reflective diary was kept by the author during this week recording all discussions, arguments and opinions to ensure clarity when recalling these. Many other members of the team also discussed their views with the author.

A number of sources have been consulted for the background information and theory related to teamwork. Belbin’s self-perception inventory test has been identified as a useful tool for assessing members of a team and the balance of personalities and roles within. Each team member completed this test and the results are considered in detail and with reference to other theories.

Discussion

1 What are teams?

A team is defined as:
A group of people who make different contributions towards the achievement of a common goal. (Pritchard & Pritchard, 1994, p.13).

The essential characteristics of a team have been described by Gilmore et al (in Pritchard & Pritchard, 1994) as: The members of a team share a common purpose which brings them together and guides their actions. Each member of the team has a clear understanding of his or her own functions, and recognises common interests. The team works by pooling knowledge, skills and resources and all members share responsibility for the outcome. The effectiveness of a team is related to its capability to carry out its work and to manage itself as an independent group of people.

2 Types of Teams

Groups can be defined as:
Formal: formed for a specific purpose with rules, regulations and norms. Informal: where the purpose is less precise.
Psychological: membership is dependent on people interacting with each other. (Pettinger, 2000, p.136).
The team discussed in this essay is clearly a formal group as it was constructed by the course leaders and had a clear goal to achieve (producing a poster).

3 Team Size

There is a balance to be attained between team size, contribution and participation. The larger a group is, the more likely it is to split into subgroups, however, a large group can draw on more knowledge and expertise.

Steiner (in Millward and Jeffries, 2001) suggested that as group size increases individual member effort declines as the less each member feels responsible for the outcome.

In this team there were 6 members which proved ideal for the production of the poster as activities could easily be divided between the team allowing everyone an equal contribution. The team did, however, split into two subgroups of student nurses and student radiographers at the beginning of the week. It is not felt that this was due to the size of the team but more likely personality and professional differences.

4 Why use teamwork?

Teamwork is vital...
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