A Few Paragraphs on How We Could Have Improved Team Management

A Few Paragraphs on How We Could Have Improved Team Management

in Improving Team performance

Karen Cole-peralta asked:

In the last quarter of 1980, I was working at an apartment building called Center Park in south Seattle. Center Park was the first building of its kind built specifically to accommodate the needs of people in wheelchairs who could live independently with some assistance. I and a lady named Virginia were working there as Personal Care Attendants. We worked very closely with two disabled men, John Tyler and Ron Schwarz, both now deceased.

I consider us to have been a loosely knit team of all four individuals. However, we did not perform the tasks that a good team should have done to accomplish our goal of best possible care of our clients. This is what I think we should have done to improve our performance:

Set more goals, as outlined in “The Importance of Goals to the Success of Work Teams” by Greg Hendrix. We simply played it day-by-day when it came to taking care of our clients. We did take trips to Hawaii, San Francisco and Canada which were well planned and executed, but when it came to personal care we just took care of things as they came along. This may have shortened the lives of our clients in the long run. John Tyler was seriously overweight, and we never clearly set a goal of having him lose weight, such as write up a plan or get together as a team to discuss his needs. Ron Schwarz was taking far too many medications for his health, and one in particular seemed to be destroying his central nervous system. Virginia and I should have met with his doctors to discuss this problem and worked out a way to lower his amount of medications taken. We should have set goals for the betterment of his long-term overall health. “The goal of the group creates a vision that focuses their efforts.”—Hendrix. The four of us never had a clear vision of what our general purposes were.

Motivated our team, as outlined in “Team Motivation” by Peter Grazier. Virginia and I had no sense of growth or motivation in our jobs, except for the general rewards of caring for the sick and challenged. We held stagnant, dead-end jobs with very little chance for relief even on the weekends. I remember going to a talk by a Canadian lady who had gotten her aides together as a team and rotated them on a schedule, which gave them time off and a chance to go to school and better themselves. Job satisfaction was improved, and the lady was not overly dependant on any one aide. Not so with our “team.” Ron was highly dependant on my services. My sole motivation was Ron’s care and to work alone with Ron so much taxed me greatly. Virginia had similar problems with John, even though we traded off sometimes and covered for each other. We lacked “a clear purpose, focus or mission”—Grazier—which should have been at the top of our list of how to handle our jobs. We should have discussed burn-out issues with John and Ron, and laid out a plan for hiring more attendants on a revolving schedule so Virginia and I would have had time to go to school and better ourselves.

In summary, there were a lot of things the four of us could have done to improve our working situations, but the two most important ones were to set healthy, realistic goals, and to clearly motivate our paired and interactive teams.

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