Building a Winning Team: How Can You Do It?

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By Miki Fairley

The New England Patriots marched into sports history as they achieved a smashing victory over the St. Louis Rams, beating the favored team 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI. Team spirit triumphed over individual egos to help achieve this stunning upset. Noted Denver Post sportswriter Woody Paige, "In the pregame introductions at the Louisiana Superdome, the Patriots declined individual notice and came out as a team. The Patriots played as a team." Although quarterback Tom Brady was named game MVP, Brady said, "I think it should be an award to everyone-MVT, Most Valuable Team."

"While it may be hard to discern exactly what teamwork is, I have a few examples."

  • "Teamwork is listening to managers when they say 'all on-call brace referrals must be done at the time of the call, regardless of when the call comes in,' even if it means crawling out of bed at three A.M. to deliver a cervical pillow. I've seen it done! Teamwork is not saying 'I'll deliver the three A.M. order at eight A.M. the next day and then getting busy in the office and passing the order off to another coworker at noon.
  • "Teamwork for the practitioner is committing to working extra hours until a highly qualified candidate is hired as a fellow practitioner, rather than moaning about the lack of help and forcing management to hire a mediocre applicant. Teamwork for management is increasing the pay of the remaining practitioners while the search continues for additional help.
  • "Teamwork for a practitioner is going to a patient's house to deliver an orthosis because the patient is a personal friend of a large referral source. Teamwork for management is springing for airfare and hotel and golf a day early so that all the practitioners can attend the local O&P meetings.

"In summary, teamwork is giving your colleagues the benefit of the doubt. Teamwork is management trusting practitioners, and practitioners trusting management. Without trust, teamwork will never happen!"

Joe Sansone, TMC Orthopedic

One person may achieve the limelight, whether it is capturing a gold medal at the Olympics, winning the Indianapolis 500, or standing atop Mount Everest-but it took a team to put him there. Likewise business success often depends on building a winning team.

Building a great team takes more than hiring talented people-although that's the first step. What do you have to do to transform this dynamic potential into real accomplishments? It takes more than a paycheck-you need to win your employees' commitment, heart, and spirit to your enterprise.

Here is how to develop your organization's team spirit, according to :

  • Hire people who will work well together.
  • Develop a shared vision and commitment.
  • Bring people together in formal group meetings for open discussion of broad-based issues.
  • Encourage positive, informal interactions between group members.
  • Instill a "winning" attitude throughout the organization.
  • Watch for-and quickly try to reverse-team building problems such as jealousy, cynicism, and defensive behavior.

To build a winning team, you not only need to show people what direction the company is headed in, but you need to get them to "buy in" to this direction. You can't expect people to support a group if they don't agree with where it's headed-or worse-don't even know where it's headed.

Large group meetings, parties, and celebrations help build solidarity throughout the organization. However, when people participate in smaller group meetings in which work is done and decisions are made, they feel that they are an active, important part of a team, notes .

In this issue, you will learn how various O&P firms built their winning teams. As Casey Stengel said, "I couldna done it without my players."