By Tyler Reimschisel, MD
As we begin a new academic year, I would like to welcome the new faculty, staff and students who are joining our community at Case Western Reserve University. I will also welcome back to campus returning students, staff and faculty who took some time off during the summer months. I hope it was an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate.
Since we are beginning a new academic year, I thought it would be good to review the purpose of this Tips for High-Impact Teamwork series and to clarify some of the foundational terminology that I will use in these articles on effective teamwork.
The purpose of this series is to help students, staff and faculty at Case Western Reserve as well as employees at our partner organizations improve how they engage within their teams. I hope that the content of the articles in this series will help your teams have higher impact.
What is a high-impact team? According to my friend and colleague Tony Lingham, a former graduate student and adjunct faculty member of Weatherhead School of Management, high-impact teams have three characteristics:
- a high level of functionality, meaning the internal dynamics of how the team members interact with one another within the team is of the highest quality;
- high productivity in terms of the team’s outcomes, output and deliverables; and
- a positive influence on the organizations that they represent and engage with.
I think this is a very helpful way to think about teamwork because it emphasizes the importance of how teams work together as well as the outcome or deliverables of their work. It also recognizes that teams function within an organizational ecosystem. That ecosystem can influence the team by its culture, policies and procedures, and the work or learning environment. In addition, the team can influence the ecosystem of the organization in positive and/or negative ways.
I like to add another level to the high-impact team conceptual framework. That is the level of the individual members of the team. They bring their own background, knowledge and skills, competencies, personality traits and other attributes, demographics, and other intersectionalities that have a direct impact on the internal team dynamics, work productivity, and influence on the organization.
High-impact teamwork requires effectiveness at the individual, team and system levels. Given the inherent variabilities at each of these levels, teams are complex, organic entities. This variability creates amazing opportunities for creative collaboration and impressive productivity. Yet these complexities must also be intentionally considered and managed in order to mitigate against inefficiencies, ineffectiveness or frank dysfunction. My hope is that the articles in the series will help you and your team maximize the potential of your teams while addressing challenges that inevitably arise within teams.
You can access previous articles in this series by visiting the Tips for High-Impact Teamwork page on our office’s website.
If there are topics that you would like to read about in this series or questions that you have about teamwork, please contact me at email@example.com. Go team!
Lingham T and Richley B. High-Impact Engagement: A Two-Phase Approach for Individual and Team Development. iUniverse, 2018.