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Why Teams?

by Professor Michael West, Founding Director, Aston OD

Michael West
“I think the most important finding or understanding that we have from our 30 year programme of research is that the team is the basic unit of production for human beings – this is the way that we’ve always worked, lived, loved and raised our young – in teams and small groups. And this form of working has enabled us to achieve remarkable things – to uncover the structure of the human genome and to explore the beginnings of the universe.

Our challenge is to recreate that form of working effectively in modern, large organisations.

“First of all we need to be clear about which tasks need teams. Then it’s really important that every team has a limited number of clear, shared, challenging objectives, that everybody is clear about their role and each other’s role in the team, that they work interdependently as a team – closely together, and that they meet regularly to review their performance and how they can improve their performance. When we have these basics in place, we can go on to develop decision making, communication, constructive debate and inter-team working.

“When we compare organisations that have really well developed team work with organisations that have poor team work what we see is that in the case of the latter organisations, there are many more errors, there’s much less learning, there are lower levels of innovation. Moreover staff stress is higher, roles are much less clear and people don’t feel the social support that they get from working in effective teams. So there are really big differences in terms of productivity, innovation, staff well-being and staff engagement between organisations that have good team working and those that have poor or no team working.

“Download my summary of research into healthcare team working for more information.”


VIDEO: How teams improve staff engagement and why it matters

In this section…

Our articles look at the evolving concepts around team based working in health and social care, as well as offering practical guidance on improving your team effectiveness.

In the books section you’ll find references to the books with the evidence plus extended rationale and argument.

On the research page you’ll find summaries of research findings from just some of the hundreds of academic papers published over the years, plus more downloadable papers.

A selection of key research findings. from a number of studies to explore the links between people management and organisational effectiveness.

Team Assessment

Measure how well your teams are working and in which key areas they need to develop
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Aston Team Journey

Improve performance by giving your team leaders a practical 'tool-kit' they will value and enjoy
Read More

Training and Support

Take your work with teams to the next level as an accredited facilitator or coach
Read More

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