1: What is teamworking and why does it matter?

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Teams are an important component of everyday life. If you are employed it is likely that you sit in some form of team; if you are studying you will at some point engage in teamwork for a particular project or activity; and in your leisure time you may play in a sports team or support at least one team. Teamworking is an activity that most of us engage in on a regular basis without even consciously thinking about it. Teams can be incredibly important to us on a human level and contribute to our identity, wellbeing, sense of belonging and community. Similarly, in the context of public services, teams are thought to be important in terms of driving organisational and system performance.

At present, local health and social care communities are under significant pressure as challenges arising from the impacts of austerity measures combine with greater citizen expectations, the vestiges of repeated reorganisations of different government agencies and functions and changes to balances of professional power. Government and non-government organisations alike are tasked with achieving the holy trinity of doing more with fewer resources and in a more joined-up and user-centric way. Dealing with complex and cross-cutting issues while there is such turbulence in the system is no easy thing to achieve, and many individuals and organisations have sought to identify the means through which to improve the performance of their organisations and also the broader systems in which they are embedded.

At least part of the answer to this challenge is effective teamwork. As Glasby and Dickinson argue in the introductory book in this series (see Partnership working in health and social care, 2014a), it is not easy to make partnerships work.

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