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Effective Team and Performance Management
This is a report on the case study on team performance management of Electric Company. The report will borrow on theory and practice of both leadership and team management in order to explain the need for organisations to employ the use of employee teams which is a strategy designed to improve the performance of the employees. The report will begin with an introduction of the organisation in the case study and then proceed to the aims and objectives of the report.
This will be followed by a discussion of the theories that have been used to describe team performance as well as the substitution of leaders by the teams. In this section, an empirical review on these theories will also be carried out. Finally, the conclusions and recommendations will be presented.
Electron, is a small manufacturing company that deals with the manufacture of telecommunications components. The company was established in 1997 and its headquarters is in the North of England.
It should be noted that 90 out of 150 employees working at the headquarters work in the manufacturing department. The company operates using the traditional organisation structure divided into various departments such as manufacturing, finance, human resource, sales and marketing and engineering departments. The management of the company decided to group the employees in the manufacturing department into 8 teams each consisting of 10 employees in order to increase their efficiency in terms of the quality and the quantity of work done. The management of the company wanted to establish whether the teams would perform better as compared to when employees were working individually.
This report therefore aims to evaluate the performance of the selected teams borrowing heavily on theory and empirical evidence to determine the appropriateness of dividing employees into teams. the report will also rely heavily on the relevant work of other researchers and academicians. The report will also make conclusions on the performance of teams as well as make recommendations on what the best practices are on employee team performance (Mueller, Procter & Buchanan, 2000).
Team PerformanceIn today’s organisations, employees are increasingly being allocated to work groups as part of the strategy to increase their efficiency and output. This is also being done in order to ensure that employees work together in a more effective way and are able to exploit their potential to grow and develop in an optimal way. These work groups are normally designed such that the employees are working together on some common activities in manner that is co-ordinated and in most occasions, these activities cannot be carried out successfully through individual effort alone. In such a case where employees are working together in group for a common goal, this is normally referred to as team work and the groups are normally referred to as teams. It should be noted that in an organisation setting, managers or supervisors can form employee teams on a temporary or permanent basis and the compositions of these teams varies with the purpose for which the team is created in the first place. This means that there are teams that will constitute of employees from the same department while there are teams which will be made up of employees from across the various departments of the organisation. There are various attributes that will determine whether a team is successful in its activities; however, of a lot of importance is the support from senior management, training and development as well as the devotion and dedication of team members in the execution of their duties (Parker, 1990).
Teams and leadershipTeams are today required to take care of a lot of the duties that were previously assigned to supervisors and therefore various scholars and academicians have made suggestions that teams have come to be substitutes of leadership in organisations of the 21st century. They also argue that as a result of this change, supervisors on the other hand have also evolved from being foremen to mere facilitators of the activities of the team members (Huusko, 2006). In practice therefore, in a situation where the organisation employees are divided into teams, the number of supervisors greatly reduce since the hierarchical structure of the organisation is lowered and the organisation adopts a more flat organisation structure. This therefore means that the role of leadership in the organisation is faced with a new challenging situation where they no longer have a clearly laid down way of operating as their duties have been taken over by the new teams.
There are various theories that have attempted to explain the idea of the substitution of leadership and an example of such is the idea that deals with the idea of moderators that are known to influence the actions of leaders and leaders’ substitutes in different ways. The idea suggests that most of the current arrangements evident in organisations today such as teams, management from a distance and others have various effects on the roles of leaders in the organisation and can either support them or substitute them and even reduce the impact that leaders have on the employees of the organisation. This can occur in a case where the management and the employees are separated by a long distance and may therefore not understand the instructions given to them by their supervisors if proper communication channels have not been established. Researchers on leadership substitutes have also brought a legal angle into the discussion where they argue that employees may receive the needed guidance or instructions from their supervisors but take it for granted that the information comes from the supervisors as they are the primary suppliers of such information in the organisational structure (Howell et al., 1990).
In the case of Electric Company, it is evident that the older team members were given the responsibility of ensuring that the new team members understood the norms of the team and that they obeyed the rules of the team as well as ensure that they were fully and successfully integrated into the value based social order. This therefore means that the role of supervisors and other leadership persons in the organisation was taken over by the older members of the teams indicating that there was a substitution of leadership roles by the teams. This has been clearly supported by both the theories above and the empirical evidence.
Another theory that explains the substitution of leadership by team members is the theory of functional leadership. Researchers have used this leadership perspective to argue that effective team leaders are normally able to follow the activities of their team members and also normally take over any leadership roles in the team at any time when there is need for such an action (Zaccaro, Rittman, & Marks, 2001). This means that a team leader’s primary responsibility in the organisation is to plan the activities of the team and to continuously follow the activities of the team members as well as to determine the functions that are not being carried out in the right way and those that are missing in order to either perform the duties themselves or ensure that team members are made aware of them and directed to carry them out. The functional leadership theory is based on the premise that certain team circumstances normally drive the actions of the team members as well as the team leaders and they therefore call for some leadership activities to be adopted by the team leaders. This means that once the team leaders adopt these jobs then the leaders are left with no duties and therefore become useless in the organisational structure (Zaccaro, 2002).
In most organisations therefore, this theory suggests that leadership behaviours become irrelevant and ineffective in guiding the actions of the teams and therefore the success of teams does not require the involvement of leaders but the guidance of the team leaders and the dedication of the team members. The argument by this theory is therefore in line with the contingency theories of leadership which suggest that leadership effectiveness is normally influenced by the context of leadership, the situation facing the leader at a particular time as well as the organisational conditions at specific times (House, 1971). This means that the characteristics and behaviours of the team members and the team leaders are able to take the place of leadership processes thereby substituting the role of leadership in the organisation. This moves the focus of leadership functions from the person or individual leader to the functions of leadership and extends the idea that leadership functions can be found from other sources other than the organisational leaders themselves.
This is the situation that was experienced by the employees at Electron Company when new members were introduced into the teams. the old team members who were already aware of the values and norms of their teams naturally assumed leadership roles and guided the new members to understand and identify with these team values as they best as they could as this is what drove the dedication of team members in general as well as the performance of the team as compared to the other teams. The result was that the older team members were exerting control over the actions of the new team members and therefore the new team members saw the need to follow the laid down values of the team. This led to a situation where the new team members also started controlling themselves in terms of their actions and behaviour towards work and other team members (Kerr & Jermier, 1978). This therefore made it possible for the values and norms of the teams to be translated into simple rules and regulations that all new employees could understand easily and therefore fit into their assigned teams with ease. The assumption of the responsibility of guiding the new team members by the old team members therefore substituted the need for leadership in the management of the company.
The new way of carrying out duties amongst the team members resulted in a situation where the common values and norms of the team members were gradually turned into properly laid down rules and regulation and it was the responsibility of each team member to follow them in order to effectively contribute to the success of the organisation at large. This therefore means that team members were no longer acting on the instructions of the team leaders but their actions were being guided by the rules and regulations that they had set up themselves. Team members found it easy to follow these rules and regulations as they had played a part in their making and therefore felt more comfortable following hem unlike in a case where these rules had been established by the management of the company without their involvement in any way. Team members found it hard not to follow the rules because of the peer pressure that they experienced from other team members and due to the fact that the rules were such that failure to follow them would lead to punitive actions against the team member. Employee effectiveness was therefore ensured through peer pressure and the fact that older members were very keen to avoid a situation where they could be seen as being too harsh to the new employees. They therefore ensured that they carried out their duties according to the laid down procedures and therefore the new team members were left with no option but to adapt to the situation and follow the actions of the older ones. This situation effectively removed the need for leadership individuals in the structure as the team members were able to control them and ensure that all employees worked for the greater good of the company (Kerr & Jermier, 1978).
Determinants of team performanceResearchers have argued that although most employee groups can be referred to as teams, it should be noted that there are several major differences that distinguish groups and teams and these are very important for anyone to understand in order not to make the mistake of confusing the two. In most cases, groups are normally made up of people who meet through the fact that they share a common interest such as past time activity or sport while a team on the other hand can still be made up of people who share a common interest but the major reason for their being in the same team is the fact that they have complimentary abilities or qualities. This means that for a team to succeed in what they do, they have to work together and combine their efforts and skills otherwise they will just be working as individuals. The main advantage of teams is that they have the energy and the power needed to complete particular tasks and activities which would have been impossible if there was no team in the first place and an individual was carrying out the task by their own. It has been argued that although each member of the team has some unique abilities or skills, they cannot be able to use them and succeed in the execution of the task if they are working alone and therefore they must be in the team for their efforts to count in the execution of the task or activity (Guzzo & Dickson, 1996).
Researchers have also argued that one of the important factors that determine the way people conduct themselves when they are in a team is self-awareness. In today’s business setting, most organisations, through the use of human resource development professionals as well as consultants, have developed various tests that are designed to help employees more self-aware thereby improving their understanding of themselves and what motivates them to act in particular ways. Researchers have however noted that the results of the assessments normally rely on the individual employee’s self-reporting and therefore the outcome of the tests may not be objective in nature and in most cases they are always positive as it is human nature not to say anything negative about oneself. The reason for this is that human beings are known to agree with their personal thoughts. Researchers therefore suggests that employees may fake their personal abilities and they may also be unrealistic in the way they view themselves and therefore the opinion of others about our abilities or attributes may be disregarded when assuming team roles. This means that the performance of the team may be adversely affected if only an individual’s opinion is considered when assigning team roles (Belbin, 1981).
Various researchers such as Salas, Cooke, & Rosen, (2008) and Cohen & Bailey (1997) have empirically examined the issue of team performance. Traditionally, the effectiveness of a team has been measured by researchers and academicians either through the use of unidimensional models of effectiveness such as real productivity of the team and the objective measurement of team performance or through the use of multidimensional models which normally adopt a wider spectrum of measures other than productivity. These other measures could be the attitude of the members of the team, their behaviour and their levels of job satisfaction (Pina, Martinez, & Martinez, 2008). Empirical research has also revealed that there are three most common measurements that are used to measure team effectiveness and these are performance effectiveness measured in terms of the quality and quantity of the team output, the attitude of the team members measured in terms of level of trust and level of job satisfaction and finally the behavioural outcomes of team members measure in terms of employee turnover and the level of absenteeism among the team members. Researchers however point out that the three measures are used in varying degrees in each team and the degree of usage in a specific team will be influenced by the type of activities that the team engages in (Pina et al., 2008).
ConclusionsThe evaluation of the theories and empirical literature carried out above regarding substitution of leadership functions by the use of teams in organisations shows that it is clear that the future of organisations is towards the establishment of employee teams in the quest for much more concentrated efforts in delivering efficient services and in ensuring that employees are able to maximise their growth and development potential within the organisations. It is clear that using teams in organisations leads to a situation where team members tend to come up with their own norms and values that guide their actions and behaviours and these values and norms finally end up being translated into laws and regulations that all employees in the team can clearly understand and are expected to follow without being reminded by the leaders in the organisation (Mullen, et al., 1994). The emergence of these rules laid down by the team members themselves lead to a situation where all members of the team know their exact duties and roles in the team and therefore carry out their duties without the need for supervision. This situation has effectively reduced the need for leaders in the organisation as their roles have been slowly eroded by the activities of these teams. This is exactly what happened in the case of Electric Company where the rules that were established by team members took the place of supervisors in guiding the actions of employees. These teams also influence the performance of individual employees and it has been established that individuals in teams tend to perform much better than if they were working individually.
RecommendationsFollowing the discussion above and the conclusions that have been made regarding the role of teams in the organisations and how their performance can be measured and improved, there are various recommendations to the management of companies that will lead to the better performance of teams and the organisations in general. The management of Electric Company should develop a human resource development program aimed at training the team leaders on the formal decision making process and other managerial roles in order to ensure that they are more effective in guiding their team members to better performance. The management of the company should also ensure that selection and assignment of employees to different teams should take into account the individual skills and abilities of the employees in order to ensure that they contribute to the well-being of the organisation through improved performance. Finally, employees themselves should ensure that they follow the laid down team rules and regulations and therefore ensure that they carry out their team roles without being reminded as their individual actions are what will lead to the success of the entire team. It is therefore important for organisations to consider developing various teams among their employees as this will lead to better performance and may also lead to lower costs incurred to maintain supervisors and other leaders in the organisation.
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