Together is an Information Guide Book by Author John J.
Murphy, based on his authoritative experience as a management consultant. The 10 rules for High- Performance Teamwork, are presented in a way that it is applicable to all members working in an organization, this book’s purpose is to explain expectations for all team relationships, and nurture responsibility for team relationships, and for leaders to cultivate teams which are committed, loyal and enthusiastic. Pulling together gives ten rules which promote building more focus, unity, trust, and credibility within teams, by aligning systems, Individuals, groups to organization goals and objectives. The rules are meant to be used by the readers to create a team with unified results. According to Murphy all these aspects are possible by applying each of the ten rules:
- put the team first- “we-topic” vision, which is to question what’s in it for ‘we’,
- communicate openly and candidly- being open with information, empowering the team and sharing ownership,
- be part of the solution, not the problem- promoting proactive leadership; being active, not passive,
- respect diversity- all must be heard, understanding influencing and motivating others respectfully,
- ask and encourage the right questions- deep questions promote continuous learning and proactive discovery,
- use rational problem-solving process-review facts, define the problem and align the team with the right decision,
- build trust with integrity and example,
- commit to excellence,
- promote interdependent thinking- team members ask and provide help,
- pull the weeds -help engage those not included and give room to grow.
J. Murphy specializes in obtaining high performance through development, deployment, and execution of best practice techniques and by creating a high-performing team environment, teaching leadership & team development, and leading kaizen events. John J Murphy is a highly recognized author, speaker, and consultant who has worked with numerous prominent organizations in the world, also the Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. government. He is also the founder and President of the Venture Management Consultants.
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John J Murphy Drawing on an immense collection of team experiences as a corporate manager and consultant he focuses his work on improving cohesion within the team members at the workplace to increase performance and reduce conflict. Murphy’s goal is to increase cohesion for better performance while reducing conflict and counterproductive behavior which is endorsed in research. He is recognized as an international expert on leading cultural change and has multiple experiences in educating leaders and organizations around the globe. together does have good brief important aspects, which are applicable to any organization developing teams, training team leaders.
The book is provided with set of discussion questions and tools which can be seen as a way to evaluate the teams’ orientation and for conflict management. As presented in Chapter 5 of Forsyth (2016) the five-stage model of group development: forming (orientation), storming (conflicting), norming (structure), performance, and adjourning. Murphy in his book, ask questions after every rule, for the members and the leader to think and enable discussion around these topics, which support in the development of teams, by bringing them together and avoiding conflict, developing a healthy structure, performing as a team, and not just individuals doing their part for goal achievement.
These 10 team rules mentioned in the book also foster individual growth through self-awareness of their interactions in a group/team and how leader play a role in these processes for a team. Murphy has emphasized the importance for a team to be one force, he promotes cohesion in every aspect of the organization using the 10 steps. Hall (2015), in their research, found that a group that is high in cohesion, has higher performance, that is a group that is united and has a common goal has a higher motivation than a group that is not cohesive.
Murphy’s viewpoint is of overall team-setting and how a cohesive team performs better than a team that is less cohesive. He asks questions to get the reader thinking about each rule for the “we-topic” approach (the team first): “What is your overall mission?”, “What is your game plan?”, “What is expected of each team member?”, “How can each member contribute most effectively?”. He, promotes active learning, through the book, by providing questions after each rule and how answers to these questions help in that step for the team and bring in self-awareness for the reader.
The fifth rule, which says, ‘ask and encourage the right questions’, in stresses how asking deep questions promotes continuous learning and proactive discovery. Murphy aims to positively increase coordination, cooperation and communication, as behavior processes within the rules of Pulling Together. They can be included by incorporating time and understanding, as they contribute to a team too; this enables the readers the importance of individuals’ behavior and role in a team for high performance in an organization. Gupta (2010) in their work with teams found that performance is positively related to cohesion and negatively related to team conflict and conflict acts as mediating variable, they say team members need to see themselves as part of the team and need to integrate their actions and work with others to accomplish goals, and how the team dynamics influences team performance.
A team that is cohesive and acts as the united force has higher performance than a team which is conflicted and is not united. This aspect is stressed by Murphy in his rule 1which states “Put the team first” and explains how high performing teams recognize the effort to synergize, generate power beyond individuals, are empowered by sharing information, communicate well and openly. This book gives importance to teamwork, Murphy says of values and importance is given to teamwork, by having trust, faith, and belief among team members and building a constant which forms the foundation of a team which sustains the team during turbulence.
Marks, et al (2001), in their taxonomy of team process say interpersonal process with dimensions such as conflict, motivation, and affect management lay foundation for effective teamwork and preserve a sense of collective confidence, cohesion which encourages team members to achieve higher levels of performance. Also, the works of Salas (2005), say team performance and effectiveness depends on team’s actions, how a team interacts to achieve goals; and how shared mental models that is mutual trust, communication are important for effective teamwork. Rule 10 “pulling the weeds”, in this rule Murphy, says it is important to see the obstacles or ‘weeds’ that hinder teams’ performance through conflicts, mistakes, non-participation of team members. This can be seen similar to mutual performance monitoring, where the team develops an understanding, identifies mistakes, and provides feedback to facilitate correction (Salas, 2005).
Every rule written in the book, may not be practically possible in an organizational setting, for instance, rule 10 “pulling the weeds”, as this often depends on the company culture and situation, not always all are employees are engaged and interdependent thinking, the blame-free workplace is difficult to reach and depends on the situation and time. I would recommend this book for a client who would need a boost on group development work, also the book can be used as an exercise in team development or leadership training. The book provides an easy understanding of all phases of development for group members, leaders, and organizations.
The book provides important pointers for successful, high-performing teams and leader of an organization and how to seek organizational support. It is an easy read. The book provides, tools that can be used by teams to, review organization support, team objective and how they are functioning within the organization. The assessments, such as the book discussion questions, questions followed by each of the ten rules, in the book facilitate a relationship-building among team members and encourage to reach the team and organization’s goals. These questions in the book can be used as a team-building activity, to increase cohesion among team members. However, if the organization is looking for detailed team development or leadership program, this book is not sufficient, as it is brief and does not have practical examples and go in-depth of the group processes.