Teamwork

I am happy to report that the Youth and Family Team at my agency will soon be fully staffed. We provide mental health services to seriously emotionally disturbed children and their families in the far southwest counties in our state. We are supposed to have a clinical lead (a licensed social worker or licensed counselor) who supervises and also also acts as a therapist, another therapist (either a licensed social worker or a licensed counselor), a Skills Trainer who teaches basic coping skills to children and parenting skill to their parents. two Mental Health technicians who reinforce the skills for the parents and children at home and in the community after they have demonstrated minimal mastery of them, and a case manager who keeps track of things and makes sure we are in compliance with all the deadlines and fills out all the releases of information and goes to school and social services meetings. I am sort of an adjunct therapist and consultant for the team.

Last spring we lost a therapist, team lead, skills trainer and case manager. We have gradually filled all the empty positions, including two this week. Positions are hard to fill all over the state, but especially here in the remote West. We are fortunate, but especially fortunate because we all get along and work well together. The people we just hired are amiable and hard working.

It is really miserable to work on a team where there are conflicts and poor communication. Knowing how to work on a team is a special skill..

What are your experiences on teams? What qualities do you think make for a good team player?

30 thoughts on “Teamwork”

  1. i am thinking of a recent radio show i listened to about the discovery of a sensor in the dna that when eliminated causes a loss of fight or flight instinct
    they said people who have this condition get in trouble because they trust people and get screwed all the time
    this is me in team business groups
    i work for the good of the cause and goal and get back footed by self serving peyton place scenarios

    on committees i am always exhasperated at the petty bs and small thinking

    give me a job and i’ll do it

    i am starting three new ones this week

    this delivery side track i’ve been on must be altered or it’s going to eat me alive

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Mostly sports teams for me. I think I was a good team player. It was always about helping the team win and doing my personal best. I never kept stats on myself other than I could remember my won-lost record as a pitcher because we only played about 15 games a season, and I probably started 5 or 6 of them. Eight at most. Nobody was more surprised than me when I won a team batting title on my Connie Mack team in high school. I even got a plaque! 🙂

    My work career was as a teacher –not really a team situation; financial planner–sales, so not much teamwork there. Every salesperson for themselves; wine consultant–just deal with customers as they come in; private investor–there’s no “team” in “private;” and author–pretty solitary, although the community is wonderful to be part of. Best-selling authors have a team of publicists, editors, agents, assistants, etc., that make something of a team when it comes to publication time and promotion of the new book. For me, other than a one-off editor, beta readers, and proofreader. I’m a lone wolf. Ahh-woooooooooooo!

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    I usually get good feedback when I work on a team. In the past everything went fine until a supervisor got involved. Then the true system dynamics became clear. The goal of the team was not necessarily that which was stated. For example, when you work for a county the stated goal was to provide services to vulnerable populations such as children and families. Then I discovered a manager got a bonus every time his programs came in under budget. The true goal of this agency became to deny services to vulnerable populations while appearing to provide service. The guy would only provide services when ordered to do so by a judge.

    At that point I became a very inconvenient team member because I would not go along with denying services to those who qualified for them. I am still without words to describe the damage this did to vulnerable people.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I am a good team member. However, I’m on too many teams. I’ve also discovered that part of my motivation is having a finger in every pie – to know and influence what happens. Uh-oh…

    That said, I am a pretty good listener, which I think is one of the skills a team member needs.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I suppose if I ever did a sport I would probably be a good team player but it’s a little too late to figure that out now. However, for the last 30+ years in my job, everything I did was on one team or another. I assume I’m a good team player, because for most of my career people used to fight over me, about whether they could work on a program with me. I think that’s because I spent a lot of time early in my career learning what the other departments did and how they functioned ( a lot of cross-training!). So more than most people, I knew what the rest of my teams responsibilities were and what was involved in getting their responsibilities completed That made the teams that I worked on much more effective and enjoyable.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have no experience with sports teams, so I can’t speak to the dynamics of those.

    For most of my work history as a creative in various advertising and publishing companies, the sense of a team was nebulous, since we each had our assignments. I suppose if you could call the combination of art director, copywriter and account executive a team, then I worked as a member of those teams but the makeup of those teams varied with each account and though there was ostensibly a team leader in the person of a creative director, he or she was often only marginally involved. To the extent that I worked well with my peers, I guess I was a good team member.

    In my last employment at a company, I was for several years the nominal team leader. Our team had a defined set of accounts and it was my job to assign those to members of my group. I also was expected to act as an account executive, calling on clients to present our work, to solicit new assignments and new clients. I also had my own projects for which I functioned as art director. As the leader, I was privy to the salaries of each member of my team, was responsible for performance reviews, hiring and firing as required.

    Three women and two men comprised my team. When I was given access to salary information for my staff, it was apparent that the women were paid less than the men, even though some of the women were by far the most competent and productive. I went to management and insisted that I be allowed to rectify this. I think that might have been the beginning of the end for me as the leader of a team. One of the women had been having some personal issues that interfered noticeably with her work output. While I sympathized, I told her at her review that I couldn’t justify giving her an automatic salary increase at that time. She was outraged and resigned but I felt for the sake of the rest of my team that performance had to mean something.
    I eventually had to let one of the men go as well. He was a nice guy but so unproductive that other team members were having to take up his slack.

    I saw my role as ensuring that my team members could be productive and recognized for their abilities. It became apparent that upper management saw my role as an extension of their authority—to implement their impulses and maintain a sense of hierarchy in the corporate structure. The criticism I frequently received in my own reviews was that I fraternized with my people too much. More than once, I placed myself between upper management’s attack on one of my team and the team member by claiming responsibility for the supposed infraction.

    The company eventually evolved away from the subgroup structure but my end as a team leader came as a result of the bonus system that management offered team leaders. To receive the bonus, each of the leaders was required to compose a self-aggrandizing record of their achievements over the previous period. The bonuses were, as I recall, in the $5000 range but tis was in the ‘80s. After a couple of years of this, I went to my supervisor and argued that nothing I claimed in my bonus letter was in reality outside of what I should be doing anyway and, as an incentive, if that’s what it was, the bonus could have no effect on my performance. I then suggested that they take my prospective bonus, divide it into twelve parts and institute an employee of the month program for instances of exceptional performance. That would constitute a real incentive and some deserved recognition.

    Management accepted my resignation from the bonus program and with it my role as team leader but never instituted the EOM program.

    I became a sort of jack-of-all-trades in the company, designing, copywriting, photo directing and also prop building as circumstance required. It really suited me better anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. To elucidate that and to tie it to my follow-up statement, there are two ways to look at the mission of the company and by extension of the teams serving that mission. One is: the job is the boss and the other is the boss is the boss.

          I confess that I conducted myself as if the job was the boss and aimed to make my team as productive as possible. Management was on team authority; I was on team results.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I worked for 15 years with a woman who had no idea how to work on a team. She viewed herself as in competition with me, so that what mattered most to her was that all other team members were on her side and liked her the best. It was awful!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I wrote a very long response to the question of whether I was a team player. It disappeared, perhaps mercifully. It may show up later. My only experience with teams has been in a work setting and my more concise answer is: it all depends on who is deciding on what comprises a team.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The committee member who came very late to every meeting and reopened sensitive issue we had settled at emotional cost.
      The leader who formed teams to decide what he wanted and would then do what he wanted when they did not decide that.
      The department member who would change his mind and want to change the decision we had made last week. He did this almost every week. As chair I got fed up and refused to let him do it any more. They held a secret meeting and voted me out as chair, which led to a very funny series of events I have told on here.
      Then there are faculty meetings. Read Staggerford to know about those.
      Clyde

      Liked by 2 people

  9. My son as a programmer works entirely in teams. One team member insists all code should be rewritten to conform to his pattern, to give one example of bad team members. It would take months and does not matter and he has not the power and he keeps insisting.
    The company has decided to take the Elon Musk approach. They fired all the team managers and replaced them with managers who know nothing about code or how it is written or more importantly improved. One of their new rules is NO BUGS. Makes sense to outsiders. Except all complex code has some bugs. Not all bugs matter. Meanwhile my son has been sought out as a programmer with management experience by another company. So you can see the business of teams in the technical world is n some turmoil. He is on the verge of taking the job of course.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. My experience as a team player in the construction trade hasn’t been the best primarily because I worked hard for the Boss. Far too often the employee/employer relationship was antagonistic and found me caught in the middle. I’m glad to be done with it.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. So much goes into being a good team player. You have to be adaptable, dependable, and a good listener, for starters.

    I have been on teams that accomplished damn near impossible tasks because everyone on the team bought into our goal, and were committed to do whatever they could to meet it. I have also been on teams that failed miserably because of power struggles within the team. No team will be successful if individual team members prioritize their own interests and recognition over the common team goal. This is especially true if that lack of commitment remains unspoken, and you have a team member or two who are secretly hoping your mission will fail. I’ve been on more than one team where the whole team effort was sabotaged by someone withholding information essential to the success of the project.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was part of a team for most of my career. I think much of working as a good team member is simply providing service to everyone else involved. As a member of a team we provide service to our clients, our coworkers, external partners, and management. This is challenging because in my experience, the needs of the individuals receiving care were completely different from those of management. My coworkers had their own needs which were often in conflict with the rest of the team and the individuals we served. Working as a member of a team was a real challenge for me. With all those conflicting needs, I never felt like I was doing justice to anyone else. Most of the other team members never gave it much thought, including my supervisor, even though I’m sure she had training on it.

    My own ethics told me to prioritize the needs of the individuals I was caring for. They were truly the voiceless people of our society. I advocated for them throughout my career, right down to my very last day. I did the best I could. Jacque described the issue in her comment. For me, management was the state DHS. Go several levels down in that hierarchy and you reach my supervisor. Her priority was running the home like a business. She was highly motivated to make our home actually earn money each month. We had to do better than break even with the budget. We had to create income by being resourceful and thrifty in spending within our budget. Each individual has a small income to pay for all of their needs. We had to spend under each of their income’s budget each month in order to keep the home earning money as a “business.” My supervisor was far more committed to that goal than my goal of giving our clients a great quality of life. This was always really difficult for me. It brought me head to head with my supervisor time after time. Most of my coworkers were apathetic and, frankly, lazy. They just wanted things to be easy. So I didn’t have many allies.

    I can’t really call myself a good team member. I found my supervisor’s treatment of this home as a “business” offensive. I found the laziness and apathy of my coworkers offensive. I’m sure they found my attitude about our clients annoying. I know they didn’t give me much consideration at any point. As those situations grow smaller in my rear view mirror, my peace of mind grows larger. I enjoyed this topic. I had to think about my response.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Evening-
    I am part of teams. Some have been better than others. And you’re right about some teams being sabotaged. Partially, that’s why I like working alone: I don’t have to count on anyone else. Which doesn’t make me sound like a very nice person. But sometimes, that’s just the way it is.
    Good teams are great things. There has to be a good leader. And not more than one. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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