Consolidated Products is a multibillion-dollar company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, which specializes in a large selection of products and services. It is a global company with many locations around the world. The company consists of a very small staff, and its organizational structure is very decentralized, with each business unit held accountable for its own P&L.
In the early 1980’s the corporation began its strategy of acquiring several new companies. In 1999, Consolidated Products purchased a business unit, Engineered Materials, from Andreas Manufacturing. Engineered Materials was the smallest of the five companies that were part of the Consolidated Products acquisitions during the last two decades.
Consolidated Products recognized the differences in the company and its new acquisition from the beginning and understood that challenges would result in the integration process. Engineered Materials brought along its culture from Andreas Manufacturing, which was an old school way of thinking and strict hierarchical organizational structure. Over the past few years, it has focused its efforts on trying to change and integrate the culture of Engineered Materials in order to fit into the entrepreneurial style of the overall company. Unfortunately, its efforts were not successful. In 2003, the company’s sales results had decreased by eight percent, while many of its competitors had gained over five percent.
Effective leadership and cross-functional teams are always important factors within a company to gain success. An effective leader is critical when it comes to running a company. It is extremely important for an effective team leader to possess great communication skills to be able to manage several employees or team members. Also, a team leader must show confidence when taking decision and giving out orders to his or her employees. Others look up to someone that is confident and that provides the motivation to influence each and everyone one of its staff members to strive for success. At the same time, a team leader should always be respectful to others and always know when to take the blame when something goes wrong. Even though there is a strong relationship between leadership and cross-functional team leaders, leadership it is not the only important characteristic in a cross-functional team.
A cross-functional team leader must be able to set goals and objectives for team members to accomplish. Since employees from different departments of a company are getting together to work as a group, it is extremely important for a team leader to build upper management sponsorship and support, to be able to provide all the resources necessary for the team. Also, by adding positive team dynamics with clear and wide communication, a cross-functional team leader can be able to achieve the team’s goals. All these characteristics of leadership and cross-functional team leaders will help solve the issues in Consolidated Products. Issues such as employees not being committed to their assignment, or not understanding team goals, will no longer be a struggle within the organization. Therefore, Consolidated Products can become even more successful and continue to grow as a company. In any cross-functional team it is important to be able to have the right resources available at all times in order to be successful, making sure that everything is in place before a team starts working together.
Therefore, considering resources and logistics plays an important role when it comes to a cross-functional team. Some of the questions that cross-functional team leaders should answer before assembling a group together are: Do you need dedicated team space? Does the team need a budget? Does the team member have access to all the information from the different departments involved? Is a shared area needed for storing information? These are some of the important issues that can affect the effectiveness of a team’s performance. By making sure that upper management is supporting and sponsoring the team’s activities, a cross-functional team leader would be able to provide the resources necessary to be able to performance successfully as a team. When a company purchases a new division, it is important that they provide change management in order to make the transition go smoothly. In this case, the new Engineered Materials division is having some issues with the new team based management style.
One way to help transition this division is to provide training to the employees. First, you would want to interview the employees and collect data on exactly why they are having problems within their teams. We would then want to take analyze the data and understand which complaints can be fixed by management, and which complaints are due to the lack of training in the teams. We would then take all of the factors that can be influenced by training and break them up into categories. When analyzing the case, we decided that there are many areas that should be explained better and need additional training in order to have an influence on the team members. The first step in the training process that we decided on would be implementing a reward system that would incentivize the members so that they will not have the feeling that it is not in their job description. They should informed that the team process is part of their job and that they will each be held accountable for performance. Management also should set up team building exercises for each team.
The teams do not know each other very well and therefore they do not have confidence in the other members. If the teams were to be involved in exercises that help to build relationships among them, then the members would work better together. The teams should be advised on what the goals are for them. Then the management should include the benefits to achieving these goals. The team members will react differently if they are introduced to benefits that are individualized and not just company benefits. There should be a scheduled time for the teams to meet, and the team performance should be evaluated. Management should have a meeting that every team member is required to attend. During this meeting, they should discuss the benefits to having a team based management system.
Management should also share positive experiences that other companies have had that would help influence the importance of the concept. During this meeting, companywide goals should be discussed. All employees are curious about what they are working towards in every department. It helps to provide an overview of the vision and what they are striving towards. Whenever teams meet their goals, they should be announced throughout the whole company. Each member of the team should be given recognition. Lastly, the management needs to be aware of what the teams need to be successful and should provide them support to encourage them to work hard towards the goals. Our consulting team has decided that if the Consolidated management follows our suggestions and gathers a further understanding of what it takes to build and maintain the teams, they should have a successful implementation of the teams.
As we have stated, the company needs to work on making the members understand the importance of the team decisions, and they should also provide them extensive training. The team leaders should be provided specific training on how to lead a group successfully. The team leader must have full commitment towards the team, and must work with the members to come up with the best ideas. Developing a team typically goes through four stages. The team goes through forming, storming, norming, and performing. The Engineered Materials division is currently in the storming stage. Once adequate training and understanding is provided, the company will move onto the next stage. Transferring a business from a hierarchical management style to a team based style is not easy, and takes time.
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