Building a Winning Scientific and Technical Team - AAPS

Building a "world class" organization requires true teamwork. However, in many situations this teamwork is just a myth. Most employees can recall almost a dozen negative teamwork stories for every positive one. Investing in total employee involvement (TEI) can help change this situation, according to David Gootnick at the AAPS show in San Diego. Gootnick, Managing Partner and Director of David Gootnick Associates, a New York-based management training and development firm, is also a trained scientist, science educator and health management professional with a Ph.D. in business, specializing in management, psychology and communication. "Winning teams synergistically harness their members' talents and energy. This makes it so that "˜1 + 1 = at least 3' and often much more." In the scientific community everybody is a member of multiple teams, "maybe too many teams," and is highly degreed. Sometimes this combination results in people confining themselves to their own jobs or roles, sacrificing the team aspects of the team, according to Gootnick. He also thinks that the structure, processes and dynamics of many groups prevents true teamwork. However, you can't just wish your group into greatness. You have to systematically identify and remove the obstacles for success. "We have identified 108 blockages or illnesses - anything that gets in the way - to successful teams. Ridding your team of these blockages is the key to improvement," said Gootnick. Gootnick has recognized four stages for determining where your team stands and its success. Stage one is the undeveloped stage or old paradigm. It is the stage where most of the blockages (20-75) occur. Stage two is the experimenting stage, where you find your group and dynamics. Stage three is where it all comes together and stage four is where you reach your goal. "You need to get as rapidly as possible from stage one to four, but it isn't easy and you might have to change the team's culture," said Gootnick. Typical blockages identified include: talking without listening; little concern for others; little shared understanding of goals; boss issuing edicts; no support; policies to keep people in line; and little or no team development. According to Gootnick, team building activities (TBA) drive out these blockages or provide therapy to the team illnesses. "Every team needs a team code of conduct and more importantly, a mission. These should be the first team building activities," said Gootnick. He also advocates the team identify key performance measures, clarify team roles and cross train. A disciple and former student of Buckminster Fuller (one of the first futurists and global thinkers, as well as inventor of the phrase "synergy"), Gootnick extols the virtues of shared goals and vision. "You need total team training. The practice of just training the managers ended 20 years ago." Each team member also should have a guardianship role, according to Gootnick. This practice promotes responsibilities valued by the team. Examples of guardianships are communication, motivation, conflict quality, development, resource, blockage and customer. These responsibilities should be regularly (every three months) rotated. "The guardian alerts team members to a situation in their area and handles it when necessary. Therefore, team leadership roles are shared." In addition, the three C's (communication, cooperation and coordination) will help teams get to the next stage faster. These characteristics help prevent some blockages such as hidden agendas, boredom, interpersonal disputes and powerlessness. The result is a successful team where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Some stage four team characteristics are: individuals dedicated to the team; trust; members understand the whole team system; and a deep sense of pride in team accomplishments. With all the talk of outsourcing in the pharmaceutical industry, Gootnick had a different take, "Outsourcing is just failed internal teams." BS