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Q: how does your association promote teamwork throughout the hierarchy, making sure that everyone is engaged and heard?

Our association promotes teamwork in a variety of ways that empower staff. Most staff participate in the interview process for new hires. They take turns conducting staff meetings and vote for employee of the month. Because we have a small staff with a wide range of responsibilities, many projects are accomplished through teamwork, with every employee involved and every task considered important. As CEO, I maintain an open-door policy that allows for every employee's input.

Debra L. Wentz CEO, New Jersey Association of Mental

Health Agencies, Inc., Mercerville;

I don't follow a set formula to promote teamwork. I play to the strengths of the people in the organization. Without energy sources at critical staffing points, such as enthusiastic managers, it doesn't matter how well orchestrated the teamwork concept is; it won't change the organizational culture.

Teamwork starts when we recruit staff. We work closely with human resources to ensure that every-one realizes the importance of the team mind-set as a hiring criterion. In addition, we capitalize on systemwide events, such as our annual meeting, to bring together individuals who don't usually work together. An excellent example of teaming occurred through a recent voluntary resource conservation program that evolved from staff efforts. Staff at all levels divided into teams to explore cost savings and revenue enhancements, which were tied to merit pay.

Antonio Alvarado Executive Director, State Bar of Texas,


Cross-functional communication and team conduct processes should be established with the input of staff from all levels of the organization. We have done this and are constantly working on refinements as we learn what does and doesn't work. What has been particularly helpful is including in our budget and work-plan development processes specific agreements on which projects require cross-functional team efforts, which department will take the lead for meetings and communication, and how much time from other staff will be required and when. Spelling out assignments and the timeline for deliverables is also helpful. This advance planning builds investment among staff who are critical to implementation and hopefully averts surprises.

Thereafter, we report to all staff on the project teams' progress via regular e-mail updates and intranet postings. Our intranet also allows for staff feedback on these and any other matters. All suggestions, which can be made anonymously if desired, are reviewed and discussed at full-staff meetings.

Joseph C. Isaacs, CAE Executive Director, American

Occupational Therapy Association, Bethesda, Maryland;

Creating a sense of team is critical, especially at a small association such as mine. One of the values that I seek to instill by example is that every-one's opinion is important, regardless of title, seniority, and so forth. The way that I approach change within the organization is a good example of how I do this. I ask each employee what matters most to him or her for the given issue. This allows me to understand employee priorities and reflect them as best as I can in any proposed policies or benefits. I also submit proposals to staff for feedback to test whether we have accomplished something that makes sense and that will work. As a leader, I'm not afraid to admit when employee feedback helps improve something that I've proposed or to use staff ideas to refine proposals so that they are better for all of us. When people understand how valued they are, a strong sense of team and shared vision naturally results.

Veta T. Richardson Executive Director, Minority Corporate

Counsel Association, Washington, D.C.;
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Title Annotation:CEO To CEO
Publication:Association Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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