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Building a team of valued individuals

17 April 2015

Sharon Prentis looks at a workbook forgreater effectiveness


Person-Centred Teams: A practical guide to delivering personalisation through effective team-work

Helen Sanderson and Mary Beth Lepkowsky

Jessica Kingsley Publishers £19.99


Church Times Bookshop £18 

A RATHER clichéd acronym for TEAM is "Together Everyone Achieves More". While achieving more is not the main message of the book by Helen Sanderson and Mary Beth Lepkowsky, creating an environment that emphasises "togetherness" while optimising the contribution of individual team members is a main theme.

The writers offer a practical workbook with suggestions based on a person-centred approach, which is considered good practice in education, social-welfare, and well-being contexts. The person-centred model offers valuable principles for those wanting to explore the nuts and bolts of how people can work together in a collaborative and relational way. Although not specifically written for people in church team ministries, this text provides useful tools for leaders wishing to facilitate more effective teamwork.

The theory behind the approach, originally developed from the work of the humanistic psychologist Dr Carl Rogers, is that individuals fulfil their potential given the right environment. An important tenet is that personal growth and fulfilment in life are a basic human need, which involves social relationships.

With that in mind, the authors emphasise the importance of identifying team roles based on an appreciation of an individual's abilities and motivations, incorporating these in a shared team vision, and collective values and purpose, and thus establishing the basis for development of both the individual and the team.

A significant proportion of the book is devoted to helping team members identify their values and motivations, as well as the support that they might need from other team members to be effective participants. The text is easy to read, providing case studies as exemplars and reflective exercises, and posing reflective questions that can be worked through.

While this book is helpful, the main audiences are those who work within a variety of contexts, such as service-providers, managers, practitioners, and students in the health and social-care fields; so do not expect any theological insight into how people work together.

None the less, here are fundamental practices that will be useful to individuals who are new to team ministry, or who are keen to work in a person-centred way. 

The Revd Dr Sharon Prentis is Deputy Director for Research and Development for the Salvation Army.

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