What really makes an organization successful? Some would argue that it is the individuals, the “stars” who get the work done. And, without question, organizations do need people who do what needs doing, day in and day out. That is just one reason why APU recognizes hardworking individuals –Employee of the Month, Outstanding Teacher of the Year and so on.
Still there are examples everywhere of organizations, sports teams, governments that hire, elect or appoint “stars” where those stars fail to deliver. Some of those “stars” are actually directly responsible for colossal failures.
Though individual contributors will always be important, in most settings it takes people working together to truly make a difference, to accomplish something outstanding. The clichés are abundant: “there is no I in TEAM” “it takes a village…” “the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.”
So just what is a team? A team is not a department or a division, although departments and divisions can work as a team. A team is not just a group of people assigned to a task. A team is a group of people assigned to a task who accomplish more, more efficiently, than they might have done working in parallel.
In recognition of the many teams, formal and informal, that are making a difference at APU every day we have instituted a TEAM WOW award. You might not, at first recognize the inaugural recipients of the TEAM WOW award as being a team. They work in different departments, on different floors, in different buildings. Although they are in the same division they have different supervisors. Yet collectively these wonderful employees have adjusted to numerous changes with grace and professionalism.
When positions were vacated, and then frozen, these employees were assigned to dual roles in two departments. They dealt with double workloads, sometimes double work stations, and occasionally crabby and tense colleagues. But their “teamness,” while not on display initially, has been clearly visible over the course of the past year. It could be observed in how they covered for each other during peak times including both vacation and illnesses as well as the cycles of the academic year which included accreditation, advisory board meeting, weekend presentations, intensive class session, seminars – the list goes on. Supervisors learned that they could call on one member of the team who would find an available team member who could pick up additional projects. If no-one was free this member would do what was needed even though it was not a part of any job description. You would think this was enough, but no, these employees, with the support of their supervisors, also assisted an office that was severely down in staff this summer (and an honorable mention of hard team work goes to the Registrar’s Office). Between covering the office so staff meeting could be held and student needs could still be met, to filling in on filing, phone, even transfer evaluations, these employees stepped in with a smile and a positive attitude.
The “team” consists of Katie Kelley, Robin Bartlett, Yishu Xu, and Tania Marsh. They are part of why we can say WOW APU! As individuals they get much done, as a team they are unstoppable. “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.” – African Proverb