The Importance of Being Part of a Team

One of the joys that I have always found with my work is being part of a team. I learned how important this was to me early on in my working life when I was a surgical technologist in the operating room on an open-heart team. The team was small, and we were responsible for all the open-heart surgical procedures being done at this particular hospital. It was a very busy program and the team worked together many, many hours at a time. The amazing thing about this heart team was when we had a patient coming into the operating room as an emergency and we had very little time to get set up, we each knew our role and we went into action…and, just like Nike, we did it.

I remember one time, I suddenly realized that nobody was talking in the room because we were all doing our specific duties to get ready for the emergency procedure. We were each able to focus and function efficiently for the task at hand – literally, to save someone’s life.

As I think back on this experience spanning 10 years, I realize that this had a tremendous impact on how I perform as a team member. Working in isolation is not a good scenario for me. I find great joy and satisfaction in being a part of a team.

So, what makes a well-functioning team, you might ask? Every member on the team knows their responsibilities and is accountable for their actions. They also look out for one another to make sure that if one member of the team is struggling or feeling overwhelmed, the others are there to lend a helping hand or at minimum, support by asking, “How can I help?”. The phrase “that’s not my job” does not enter into the vocabulary of a well-functioning team. I have been on both kinds of teams: those that are well-functioning and one that was completely dysfunctional (fortunately, these have been few in my career). However, I will say, the latter is no fun.

One of the best ways to identify the strengths of team members and ensure that they are working in the areas where they excel is to have each member take the CliftonStrengths® assessment, which is offered by the Gallup organization. Over 22 million people have taken this assessment and identified their strengths – what it is that they do best. In other words, they discover what they love to do and what brings them great joy and satisfaction.

As I think back on working on the open-heart team, I now realize that my Responsibility #2 (of my Top 5) and my Arranger (#3) are being utilized on a daily basis. Also, my Belief (#5) was being fulfilled as I felt I was doing something that was truly making a difference. So, in retrospect, I now see that in that role I was able to work in three of my Top 5 strengths, which is why I found the work so rewarding.

CliftonStrengths can be used to develop a team and have them performing at their very best. Gallup-certified strengths’ coaches must go through comprehensive training as well as take a certification exam. This certification must be renewed every two years. CliftonStrengths is a lifelong journey which one can apply personally as well as professionally.

If you are interested in learning more about the CliftonStrengths assessment and how it might help you and your team, please call the Alber Enterprise Center at The Ohio State University. We thrive on working with teams to build upon their strengths and improve performance.

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