Chapters 14, 15, 16, and 17 address action for the improvement of team performance. The previous chapter covers team training. This chapter deals with building teams. Chapter 16 explores process improvement. Chapter 17 examines troubleshooting for teams.
Concurrent with the movement toward team-based activity in many sectors of work, including health care, more attention is being paid to mechanisms to improve the effectiveness of teams. As one researcher argues, "Effective teams do not simply evolve, but must be developed through team building" (Venneberg, 2010, p. 3). The history of team building has a checkered past, however, because there are so many diverse options for building teams and little evidence about which options are more likely to improve team effectiveness. For example, long-time healthcare team members no doubt have experienced team or organization retreats that meandered off course and failed to address critical issues. Healthcare professionals may harbor negative impressions of team building as a result. This makes it even more important that team building activities be carefully planned, evaluated, and integrated with overall team operations.
Team building refers to activities that teams undertake to develop the capacity of the team to be effective. Although team building was initially designed to improve interpersonal relationships and social interactions within the team, the purpose of team building has evolved to include achieving results, meeting goals, and accomplishing tasks (Klein et al, 2009). Team building generally is stimulated by particular issues or problems, but it also can be pursued proactively to prevent problems. Additionally, the early stages of team development can be accelerated by team building activities. Among issues frequently addressed by team building are goal clarification, improvement in interpersonal relationships, role clarification, and specific task-related problems (Shuffler et al, 2011).
Conceptually, team building is a continuous process throughout the life of a team. When team building is viewed as an isolated event or activity, it is bound to fail. Any well-run team meeting contributes to building the team, in the sense that it reinforces participation, listening, interdependence, and movement toward team goals. Accomplishing a successful outcome builds the team. While those normal operational activities typically are not considered team building, they serve the same purpose. The specific activities designated as team building activities should be viewed as part and parcel of ongoing efforts to reach team goals. Even when a team building activity is focused on one specific team issue, team building should be considered an ongoing process rather than a quick, one-time fix. The length and content of one specific team building intervention is less important than a team's commitment, participation, and involvement in team building as a whole.
Team building is distinguished from team training, which involves instruction of team members on individual and team competencies. Team training for healthcare teams is covered in Chapter 14. Together, the activities of team building and team training have ...