By Susan Peirce     (Fall 1992)

 

Childhood is a mold, but I did not know it at the time. How was I to know as a twelve-year-old competitive equestrian that I was learning the importance of winning? True enough, I belonged to a team, but in competitive sports, only one blue ribbon is awarded. To an athlete, winning equates with being the best.

As a culture, we are socialized to be individualists, where one is rewarded for outperforming others. As a result, this can send mixed messages to a group of individuals struggling to work together as a team.

Organizations working on the implementation of quality concepts are often surprised by the lack of efficiency or collaboration found in untrained teams. The lack of concern for others’ individual needs or individual feedback can create barriers to team effectiveness.

Does this mean that the concept of team is trendy or just a gimmicky management theory? Absolutely not. For teams to be most effective, several things need to occur: (1) individual needs must be addressed within the group and (2) appropriate levels of responsibility, accountability, and feedback must be established, and (3) the establishment of clear, common goals. When team members work together, feel responsible for the process and accountable for the output, they will collectively become blue ribbon winners. Are you competing against your competitors or your team?