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When is a team not a team?

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I have been wondering for some time now what makes a successful team and the events in my last leadership module with the Kings Fund got me thinking about this again.


The word ‘team’ is used a lot in healthcare but what do we really mean by this?  What about in pharmacy, particularly in the hospital sector where I work?

A good place to start would be to try to define what a team is...

In effective teams:
•    People trust each other
•    Feelings are expressed freely
•    Process issues are part of the work
•    Commitment is high
•    Objectives are common to all
•    Listening is high
•    Conflict is worked through
•    Decisions are by consensus

•    People are open

I think we’re already in trouble already if this is the definition of a team. So, what about the opposite?

•    People work together
•    Process issues are worked on covertly
•    People negotiate
•    Information passes on a need to know basis
•    Conflict is accommodated
•    Politics are rife
•    People co-operate to get the job done
•    Feelings are not part of the work
•    Trust and openness are measured

That’s better, this sounds much more like the teams that I have experienced!  This is a working group rather than a team because individuals work together but they have their own goals and agendas and will do whatever is necessary to achieve these even if it at the detriment of the ‘team’.

Those who know me will know that I have a passion for the beautiful game.  This is where teams and teamwork is really important and the players work as a real team and cast aside any personal differences.  Let me share some recent examples with you...

Chelsea v Man Utd... Man Utd came back from 3-0 down to make it 3-3
Arsenal v Tottenham... Arsenal came from 2-0 down to win 5-2
Chelsea v Napoli... Chelsea came back from 3-1 down to win 4-1 and go through 5-4 on aggregate

What can we learn from these examples?  Well, players will sometimes shout and scream at each other for the good of the team and will always be team mates even if they don’t like each other personally.  Does the same happen in pharmacy whereby conflicts are managed in a positive way?

What about hierarchies?  It is alleged that Chelsea has a hierarchy of senior players and this is causing conflict but without these senior players, they would not have got through the most recent Champions League match.

This may sound strange but I think we can learn a lot from proper teams and, if people in pharmacy started working as proper teams, we could go far... but life isn’t like that is it because that would mean giving up all that power...

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