Teamwork Dynamics

Description of the teamwork dynamics evident within the Spring Valley Mental Health Center (SVMHC)
The group dynamics in the case represents a classical example of an organization whose employees’ value working as a group rather than a team.  The difference between a group, apparent in the case, and a real team hinges on the presence, or lack of true independence; shared accountability; and, incremental performance urge, or opportunity.  In a group, every member is responsible only to their own contributions and has little concern regarding the contribution of other members of the group.  There is no collective responsibility that evident in a team where the leader mainly relates to the team as one constituent.  The employees working in The Sierra Centre, The Canyons Centre, The Hilltop Centre, and the Alpine Centre can be regarded as merely a working group rather than a team. The member in the case study interact essentially to share information, the present best practices, or approaches, and  arrive at decision that aid each perform within the area of responsibility. 

Despite its success, the organization can be considered as lacking  coherence given that Dr. Lee, who has taken a conservative approach in dealing with the imminent loss of revenue and threat of closure due to financial un sustainability in The Sierra Centre.  Conversely, Dr. Johnson does not subscribe to view and sees a solution that is likely to enable the centre to remain open. This embodies the first instance in the case where cracks begin to emerge in the team. It is evident that the institution lacks an open line of communication as demonstrated by how fast the rumor on the closure of the centre and the eventual loss of jobs spread among the employees, which in turns leads to loss of morale.

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One would argue that teamwork is non-existent in the organization as employees in The Sierra Centre, as part of the team, should be aware of the developing situation threatening the closure of the centre, rather than be left to rely on rumors. Dr. Johnson also unearths cases of racial discrimination at the Hilltop Centre as two Caucasian female therapists were turning down referrals for African American clients and opting for Caucasian, middle-class clients. Furthermore, the female therapists were racially segregating their office manager, an African American.  At the Canyons Centre, the office manager, Mariam, has been breaching the code of conduct (privacy) by openly discussing private details of a bulimic patient’s therapy in the presence of other staff and clients.

Reasons for the current teamwork dynamics

Some of the common impediments to teamwork prominent in the case study include absence of openness, whereby authentic teamwork minimizes isolation and renders change to be less frightening; absence of ongoing self-assessment as effective teams often utilize a process to gauge how they are doing.  The employees of Spring Valley Mental Health Center (SVMHC) can be regarded as a loosely affiliated group given that they manifest characteristics such as the absence of trust owing to reluctance among the team members to be candid about mistakes. Effective teams stimulate widespread participation on issues that crop up within the organization (Campion, Papper & Medsker, 1996).  The team in the case can be regarded as ineffective as the discussions remain dominated by a few staff members, and frequently, off-topic comments, emerge with minimal done to keep the discussions on track. This explains why the rumor on the imminent lay-offs spreads like bush fire resulting to plummeting of morale.

Discuss what distinguishes a team

Effective teams are truly cohesive as manifested by a team culture in which: members trust one another; engage in unfiltered conflict on ideas or issue that crop up; commit to decisions and the established plan of action; hold each other accountable for the delivery of the outlined plans of action; highlight the attainment of collective results as a team, rather than individually. Effective teams embrace all spheres of team dynamics and cultivate good external relations with other teams (Spielberger, 2004).

Characteristics associated with effective and ineffective team members

The effectiveness of team working relates to the effectiveness of health care teams owing to the fact there are more concise team objectives; enhanced level of participation within the team; enhanced level of commitment to quality; and, an enhanced degree of support of innovation rendered to the team.  One of the most critical, yet complex variables to attain that differentiates top teams dwells on their capability to engage in sincere, candid, and genuine dialogue. In Spring Valley Mental Health Center (SVMHC), it appears that pertinent issues are not extensively explored. This paints an attempt to keep the peace over trust where the group members engage in passive-aggressive or indirect behavior avoiding those very issues that ought to form part of the conversation. In a top team, such cases are the exception rather than the norm, whereby trust is elevated and its significance esteemed, rather than keeping the peace.  This necessitates that mangers encourage, insist, and guarantee that it is safe for all parties to talk openly regarding anything in the organization (Fay, Garrod & Carletta, 2000). The opening up of the dialogue to permit honest interactions can be one step in minimizing the occurrence and perpetuation of rumors within the organization.

The characteristics associated with effective and ineffective team members

There are numerous variables linked to team effectiveness and team leaders should be aware of these variables in establishing and sustaining conditions that foster team functioning. The atmosphere manifest in effective teams is mainly participative, non-intimidating, open, comfortable, connected, relaxed, and informal.   Ineffective teams, on the other hand, manifest team characteristics such as disconnected, nervous, intimidating, fragmented, and overly formal.   Effective teams manifest a tension-free atmosphere in which all team members are thoughtful and enjoy working together.  Ineffective teams commonly manifest an atmosphere of indifference demonstrated by an absence of attention and proliferation of side conversations. As manifested in case, there may be feelings of tension and formality coupled with antagonism (West & Field, 1995).

Effective teams also listen well, and all the staff members manifest interest in another person’s comments and ideas, whereby the discussions remain focused, and each idea bear an opportunity to be expressed.  Furthermore, effective teams disagree contentedly and constructively, whereby the divergences of opinion represent a useful part of the process. As such, all opinions are not repressed, and the team member attempts to explore all the issues at hand and highlight a resolution, instead of overriding dissent. In contrast, ineffective teams frequently fail to deal successfully with conflicts as dissenting opinions may be repressed to purge the conflict. In most cases, only the hard line members have their ideas given a platform to be heard and considered and the other staff members left to agree or resign to the decision. This is evident in the case as Dr. Lee ideas appear to rake precedence over those of Dr. Johnson.  Effective team members mainly foster self expression of one’s ideas regarding perception about a group problems and relationships. Similarly, the team members make decision subsequent to reaching a consensus (Fay, Garrod & Carletta, 2000).  Ineffective teams, on the other hand, circumvent discussion on personal feelings or ideas and frequently perceive and resolve the underpinning issues.

The role a leader in supporting a high functioning team

A team delineates a collection of a small group of people bearing complementary skills, pursuing a shared purpose, performance, objectives, and approach, for which every member holds his or herself responsible.  Successful leaders bear a significant impact on high-performing teams, whereby strong leadership capabilities, effective communication skills, and willingness to promote an environment of teamwork and openness (Sundstrom, De Meuse & Futrell, 1990).  Constructing and sustaining such a team demands strong leadership capabilities, effective communication skills, and eagerness to facilitate an environment where teamwork flourishes. The individual and team accomplishment are ardently acknowledged by team members, leaders, and the whole organization (Campion, Papper & Medsker, 1996).

How leaders in an organization can be more effective team leaders

Team members should be aware of the meaning of teamwork, whereby the organization policies should stimulate team members to share responsibility in pursuit of team development and effective decision-making (Bernstein, 2011).   The leader should be constructive and set an excellent example for the team; should constantly and openly share information on projects; where possible, the leader should let the team work via their conflicts, and should be ready to resolve negative conflict; indicate appreciation for the work team through the utilization of diverse methods for rewarding team and members; actively listen to the team complaints and suggestions; indicate confidence within the team; and, enabling the team to appraise its leader and suggest any enhancement t aid the team  based on respect, confidence, and trust.


The difference between a loose group, apparent in the case, and a real team hinges on the presence, or lack of true independence; shared accountability; and, incremental performance urge, or opportunity.  Changing a loosely affiliated group of people into a team demands skills and effective intervention by the CEO. Leaders can become effective team leaders within a team by enhancing: coherence (precise understanding of the areas in which an individual can contribute to attainment of team results); versatility (capability to appropriately modify to diverse situations): and, capability to learn (detailing how to create a secure climate within a team, and how to successfully delver feedback to and receive feedback from the team members).  The leader should expect and stimulate teamwork; should generate a team vision and aid other personalize it; and, highlight relationships and encourage others to carry out the same.  The manager should reinforce team-like behavior via raise and reward, but should avoid reinforcing behavior that does not aid the team such as reinforcing negative behaviors.