Key Research Findings
Researchers led by Professor Michael West have undertaken a number of studies to explore the links between people management and organisational effectiveness. Below are just a few of the general conclusions from key papers.
Teams and Safety
There is substantial evidence to suggest that effective team working is associated with safer working practices. Results from the 2003 NHS National Staff Survey in the UK indicated that the greater the number of staff working in well structured teams, the fewer errors, near misses and injuries occurred. However, there is evidence that, in some circumstances, poor quality team working may actually be detrimental: the greater the number of staff who said that they worked in teams, but not well-structured teams, the more errors, near misses and injuries occurred.
Team Creativity and Innovation
West, Tjosvold & Smith, 2003; Dawson 2006
Creativity and innovation are promoted within team-based organisations as the result of cross-fertilisation of ideas.
Teams and Staff Commitment
Carter and West. 1999; West, 2004
Staff who work in teams report higher levels of involvement and commitment, and studies also show that they have lower stress levels than those who do not work in teams.
Teams and Diversity
Borrill, 2000; Fay et al 2005
Cross-functional design teams can undertake radical change. The breadth of perspective offered by cross-functional teams produces the questioning and integration of diverse perspectives that enables teams to challenge basic assumptions and make radical changes to improve their products, services and ways of working.
Teams and Quality Management
Cross-functional teams promote improved quality management. By combining team members’ diverse perspectives, decision-making is comprehensive because team members question ideas and decisions about how best to provide products and services to clients. Diversity, properly processed, leads to high quality decision-making and innovation.
Teams and Rapid Change
West, Tjosvold & Smith, 2003
Team-based organisations, with their flat structures, can respond quickly and effectively in the fast changing environments most organisations encounter. Teams enable organisations to speedily develop and deliver products and services quickly and cost-effectively. Teams can work faster and more effectively with members working in parallel and inter-dependently: individuals working in serial tend to work slower. Teams enable organisations to learn (and retain learning) more effectively. When one team member leaves, the learning of the team is not lost. Team members also learn from each other during the course of team working.
Teams and Delivering Strategy
West, Tjosvold & Smith, 2003
Teams are the best way to enact organisational strategy, because of the need for consistency between rapidly changing organisational environments, strategy and structure. Teams can co-ordinate the enactment of strategy amongst groups of individuals working towards shared goals.
Teams and Learning
There is accumulating evidence that when students work in co-operative groups, rather than individually, they work harder, help less able group members and learn more. This is not without good reason. It is by working together and pooling our resources (knowledge, abilities, experience, time, money, etc.) that we can most effectively accomplish our shared goals.
Teams and Customer / Patient Care
Borrill et al., 2000; West et al., 2002
Studies in health care have repeatedly shown that better patient care is provided when health professionals work together in multi-disciplinary teams. Studies have further shown that the more staff work together as teams in hospitals, the lower the level of patient mortality.