Healthcare Management

By Kieran Walshe; Judith Smith | Go to book overview

24 Managing people: the dynamics
of teamwork

Helen Parker


Introduction

The workforce or 'people factor' is recognised as an important organisational asset in contributing to performance at an individual, team or organisational level (Senior 1997; Handy 1999). The role of the individual managing and developing this asset is distinct from the human resource (HR) function of organisations, described by Farnham and Horton (1996) as the 'professionalization of people management'. Whilst the HR department provides specialist advice and support to managers in ensuring good employment practice, workforce development and personnel support, the direct management responsibility of teams and individuals is a much closer relationship between the team and the manager and, unlike the HR function, the overall performance of a team is a management responsibility.

The role requires an equal mix of management and leadership skills that on a day-to-day basis are inextricably linked, but in certain situations will require an increased emphasis of one or the other. Working with teams and becoming an effective people manager also requires the individual manager to have an awareness of their own personal effectiveness and leadership style and these concepts are explored in earlier chapters.

Healthcare systems undergoing major reform of structures, systems and workforce, as in the English NHS (DH 2000), require line managers to have the theoretical understanding and practical skills to lead and manage teams to work effectively and efficiently. This is on account of the devolution of corporate objectives to teams of staff across a wider organisation or service. Barber and Strack (2005) sum this up well by stating that 'human resource management is no longer a support function but a core process for line managers' and yet investment in training for these skills is often lacking (Corby 1996; Martinez and Martineau 1998).

Healthcare systems are also complex environments and this is reflected in their diverse structures, cultures and services. Managing this complexity through the development of teamwork is considered an effective and efficient model (Ingram and Desombre 1999; West and Markievicz

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