Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
The Value of Teamwork

The Value of Teamwork

Written by: Brent Magers

Values are important to all of us as individuals and as part of the fabric of our organization. They are important and lasting beliefs about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values have major influence on our actions and attitude. They serve as broad guidelines in most situations. Texas Tech Physicians’ SPIRIT Values are:
  • Service excellence: Constantly strive to exceed the needs and expectations of patients and peers
  • Patient first: Deliver our best to every patient at every encounter
  • Integrity: Communicate openly and honestly holding each individual to the highest ethical standards
  • Respect: Treat each individual with the highest professionalism and dignity
  • Innovation: Embrace change to improve all we do
  • Teamwork: Build a better organization through collective efforts and strengths of all stakeholders

Today, I want to talk about the last one, teamwork. People perform best when they feel valued, empowered and respected by their peers.  Scholarly research tells us that our most productive, innovative, and collaborative times at work happen when people believe they are a part of the a team. Wanting to be included in key activities of the organization and respected by others is human nature. As a general rule, teams produce better outcomes, innovate more and come up with superior customer solutions than can any one individual.

You may have been involved in the “Desert Survival” team-building exercise.  The exercise is a fun way to get people to think and highlights the importance of teamwork.  During the exercise, each person ranks a list of items according to its importance in the event a plane crashed in the desert. Items include such things as a mirror signal, water container, parachute, pocketknife and sunglasses, just to name a few. Teams are then assigned and each team ranks the items in order of importance. The two rankings (individual vs. group) are compared. Almost without exception, the teams do a better job than any one individual could ever hope to achieve. Correct answers are derived from actual incidents in which people did survive in the desert using certain items, and experts created a list of the most important items for survival.

The exercise does two things. First, it shows that the team almost always makes better decisions that the individual. So, Mom was right—two heads are better than one!  The second thing it does is demonstrate how healthy relationships with others help us survive.  The key is that we must trust others and be willing to share opinions without being afraid, and we must work through problems and challenges.  That’s good advice to remember from experts on the subject.