Managing team performance

This is a Literature Review paper that explores the management of team performance in the field of Human Resource Management. The paper selects, compares, and critically reviews various scholarly academic journal articles relevant to this topic. The introduction section introduces the audience to the topic of team performance in the Human Resource Management field. It gives the general concepts of team performance in relation to human resource management.

The main body of the paper divides the topic into smaller units such as team formulation, team performance measurement, transformation of groups into teams and management of team performance.

This section also presents views, facts and arguments by various authors in the field of human resource management and team performance in particular. The conclusion section summarizes the main ideas of the literature review and makes inferences about what has been discussed. Introduction Teamwork has proved to be very essential in the field of human resource management.

Many organizations are shifting from the traditional individual approach to a team approach.

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These organizations have introduced teamwork rewards as opposed to individual rewards in order boost team performance. Teamwork has a number of advantages including a happier staff, a sense of ownership and responsibility, continuous improvement and innovation, focus on the customer, cost saving, and flexibility. Teamwork performance involves ensuring that the various teams in an organization achieve their goals and objectives effectively and in the most efficient way possible.

The team concept is very vital if one is considering a process-based management and is among the few means used by large businesses integrate their large processes.

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Individual reward systems have failed in a number of organizations due to their nature of people working to outdo one another. Moreover, the individual performance system only measures the process-the quantity, quality and output- as well as other contributions by individuals, which is not enough.

Other factors that go hand in hand with team performance include historical and cultural issues, compensation, alignment with the organization’s strategic objectives, performance measurement and teamwork management practices such as definition of team roles, team development and team training. Team formulation A study conducted by Sisaye (2006) shows that teams are brought from different functional departments that are specialized in accounting, marketing, production and many other functional units.

This combination will bring better decision-making processes; teams will be more interdependent and better collaboration between members as they will be highly committed to share information in order to accomplish their work objectives. Teams usually select leaders who can manage and lead them, and are willing to take initiative in problem solving. Teams have also been regarded as full time and permanent members of many organizations. However, the biggest challenge is for the leaders to work with clear and unambiguous reporting structure.

This can be seen within the matrix environment when the direction and reality are split between functional and program leaders. Therefore, the team leader should overcome these challenges by encouraging team members to provide new ideas, facilitating the communication between team members and assisting them to reach a decision. Other authors have argued that when the leader looks for the crew they should be skillful, business-minded, visionary and able to see the big picture, and show team commitment. However, these traits are not enough for a good crew-the leaders should in addition have passion and a sense of humor.

Additionally, team-building usually goes through different phases such as forming, storing, norming and performing. However, the whole literature review focuses on the last phase as it analyzes the team performance. Measuring team performance Khalid (2008) suggests that understanding each other within the team is essential as this will add strengths and compensate for the team weaknesses. To provide an accurate team performance, teams are measured in terms of intelligence and skills. A solid team can only be formed with the establishment of a learning environment that enables the team members in helping each other to grow.

Having heterogeneous skills, experience and background will certainly improve team performance. However, a proper learning environment is required to make this performance sustainable. Today, managers are willing to improve the team performance through employee productivity, cost controls and customer satisfaction. A study conducted by Yettas et al (1996) shows that it is very complex to measure a good team performance when we consider the number of complaints, the time taken to achieve tasks and the number of produced products or served customers.

For example, supposing we produce very high quality products, does the team also have a high performance? The answer would definitely be no, as the quality of the products exceeds the desired value by the customer and this excessive quality will be added to the cost of the product. Self-managed teams would be another option to increase productivity and there are certain choices to achieve the evaluation process. Team effectiveness Survey (TES) was developed to evaluate team effectiveness. There are 20 behavior statements that provide feedback about the team. The best thing about it is that it is easy to score and administer.

Also, it provides the participants with the right direction between team members and self-analysis. It examines understanding figures, listening capability and personality dynamics. Managing team performance According to Van Vijfeijken (2004), a modern organization comprises of two visible trends. The first trend involves organization of work around teams as opposed to individuals; this has proved to be a main building block of a number of organizations. The second trend is the development of some kind of reward for performance plans revolving around an individual rather than a team.

In the first trend, the workers are encouraged to work together as a team and achieve team results. However, in the second trend, only the individual work is evaluated and rewarded as opposed to the team. The conflicting nature of these trends may end up reducing the effectiveness of any performance plan. This creates the need for the creation of a pay performance plan capable of overcoming these problems. Today’s large corporations are entirely built around the team concept. However, the definition of performance goals is mainly around the organizational, team and individual levels.

A number of organizations have in place pay-for-performance systems based on ranking. Pay-for-performance plans have indicators at the organizational level and the individual level, thus reinforcing the organizational as well as individual goals. However, pay-for-performance plans do not offer anything equivalent for team level performance goals. Modern organizations want to bridge the gap created by this conflict by expanding the pay-for-performance systems currently in use today with some kind of team bonuses. Uniform pay-for-performance plans have numerous advantages including a lower clerical burden and a higher transparency.

However, team specific-plans are capable of supporting team specific goals better. The issue of designing pay-for-performance plans for teams is however hindered by a number of factors. Van Vijfeijken (2004) observes that members of a team highly depend on information from individual team members in two main ways. First, an engineer may depend on information about a copier machine’s history, which he may get from the company’s information system. The correctness and availability of the information may influence the completion of the service engineer’s task.

Incomplete information or lack of it may lead to a repair taking longer than it strictly should. The other type of interdependence has to do with exchanging of tricks and tips either for specific customers or specific machines such as copiers. However, these two are not vital for the engineer to complete his task, and only delay or hasten this completion. Transforming groups into teams Jungalwalla (2000) suggests that a combination of common vision and goals are the main glue binding a team together more than all the other factors.

He is of the view that a company’s journey to success may not be an easy one unless every individual has one vision and all the members hold a common goal for the shared destination. Jungalwalla further insists that lack of direction may lead to fragmentation of groups since the members will spend their energy moving against each other as opposed to spending it as a team. He suggests various strategies for the creation of common vision and goals necessary for teamwork. To effectively manage team performance, Jungalwalla suggests that one undertakes a team survey highlighting the roles within the team and diverse work styles.

This data should then be used to draw a team map clarifying the roles and preferences that are well-represented and those that are not. The manager should ask his or her team to take an outsider’s view of the on the team map. This perspective will enable them get ideas that can help in further development of the team. Jungalwalla further argues that managers should understand and manage diversity in their teams’ development and training schedule. This calls for the manager to lead by example especially where diversity is concerned.

He warns that employees are not likely to value diversity if the manager is not seen to value it himself. The article further stresses the importance of effective communication for the success of any teamwork venture. The author observes many managers spend most of their communication energy telling the employees what the managers want them to hear and when they need to hear it. Effective communication requires team leaders to adopt various strategies. First, the team leaders must devise surveys of satisfaction ratings on different directions and forms of communication within their teams.

They should then use the data in targeting aspects of communication with the greatest improvement potential. The team leader should encourage paraphrasing to augment active listening. Moreover, they should end their conversations by asking the team if there are any other issues to be discussed. This will give a good opportunity for the team to ask the team leader about what they want to hear. The author concludes that the mastery of communication, the ability to utilize diversity, and common vision and goals are the factors that help in team making. Managing team performance

Margerison and McCann (1995) observe that effectiveness in teams revolves around nine performance factors, which include advising, innovating, promoting, developing, organizing, producing, inspecting, maintaining and linking. During advising, one gives and gathers information. He or she finds out what others are doing in his or her area of work and ensures that he follows the best practices. This information is gathered from books, reports, articles or by talking to people. This ensures that one has all the information available to help in making the best decisions and delivering results.

According to the authors, innovation is a very important teamwork aspect and involves challenging how things are being done at present. The article further raises concerns about the way the team leaders perform their tasks, fearing that they may have become obsolete and not the best anymore. It further warns that costs may grow too high or the team may no longer deliver competitive services if it does not keep its practices up-to-date. The authors state that innovation is vital for any work teams and that better ways of carrying out tasks will always be there and managers must try to discover them.

The authors further cite impracticability of many ideas as the reason why they do not develop. Development of ideas ensures their molding and shaping in order to meet the requirements of the users, clients or customers. During this process, one must listen to their needs and incorporate them into his or her plans. Developing of ideas ensures that what the team tries to do is achievable keeping in mind the organization’s resource constraints. In organizing, the authors note that the emphasis changes and the team gets into action and makes things happen.

The process involves ensuring that every team member knows what to do, when and how. The team leader must establish clear goals and take action to ensure timely delivery of the goals within the budget. The team then proceeds to producing once the leader sets up plans and everyone knows what to do. Producing focuses on the delivery of the service or product regularly and to high standards of efficiency and effectiveness. This function ensures the team continues to deliver what is required of it. Inspecting involves performing regular checks on the work activities to minimize or even get rid of mistakes.

Quality checks will also go a long way in ensuring that the clients or customers remain satisfied. This function also extends to the legal aspects, safety aspects, security aspects and the financial aspects of work in the team. Maintaining involves teams upholding standards and keeping effective work processes. Just like a car fails if it lacks regular service, teams too can fail if one fails to check and maintain processes on a regular basis. The maintaining function sees to it that there is regular reviewing of team effectiveness and that quality standards are kept.

The linking function is what differentiates a highly efficient and effective team from just a group of individuals since pulls all team members together. It entails leadership linking, linking of tasks and linking of people. A team whose members are properly linked is a highly effective and efficient team. Measuring team performance In order to effectively and efficiently manage team performance, one must understand and discuss a team’s performance. Teams need to objectively and regularly review their teamwork in order to work effectively.

This means that the members of the team must concentrate on their short term outputs, while at the same time examining their work processes to ensure its creative working as well as its effective self promotion to others. In team performance management, the team review engages itself in subjective individual evaluation rather than objective team assessment. It is very important for managers to develop a team performance profile for a number of reasons. First, it enables effective assessment of team performance since it offers a shared understanding of key factors and a common language responsible for high team performance.

Second, it catalyses improved effectiveness and team development and hence enables the team members to concentrate on areas that require action. Third, it is a very essential tool in any team development process because any team profiling process can later be repeated to assess improvement in the team performance process. Conclusion Various authors have made their various contributions to the field of Human Resource Management and team performance management in particular. Most of these contributions agree on a number of aspects and diverge only on a few of them.

Most of these contributions seem to agree on the importance of adopting the team approach in Human Resource Management as opposed to the individual approach. A number of them cite today’s stiff global competition as the main reason why these organizations must work in teams. This, the authors insist, will go a long way in making these organizations more competitive on a global scale. Any successful effort towards team performance management begins with the identification of the areas where the team is doing well and those that require further development.

Team performance questionnaires are very important since they give the team a clue of how it is performing. It also gives an opportunity for the comparison of the views of various team members as well as those of outsiders and relating them to the purpose and vision of the team. The common language used ensures that all the team members focus on the crucial team performance factors. This will enable the measured gaps to be translated into plans of action aimed at improving team performance.

This is a very essential diagnosis of any problems since it is easier to fix something once we know what is wrong with it. The moment a team is formed, it goes through a storming and unpleasant stage before the establishment of norms and ground rules, and eventually reaching the performance stage. Initially, it was generally acceptable for the process to take up to six months before reaching the performing stage. However, the modern team does not enjoy this luxury since intense competition has forced it to take as short as six days.

Good team performance models should be able to measure and manage team performance. This can be done through the generation of quantitative and qualitative feedback data from both the outsiders and team members. This will enable early prediction of problems before they actually happen. In the process of team performance management, work teams will utilize this information to bypass some stages such as the storming stage and quickly move to the next stage, which involves generation of norms and ground rules to prevent future occurrence of major problems.

The team can therefore move confidently to the performing stage, which is the most important of all stages. From all these contributions, I personally see a great potential for all organizations adopting this form of Human Resource management. The traditional individual reward system that focused more on individual employees is now obsolete and cannot work in today’s world. It does not stand a chance with the rapid technological advancement as well as globalization. Moreover, the individual employee system is more costly than the team system and should be abandoned.


Jungalwala, R (2000, February) Transforming Groups into Teams, Executive Excellence Vol 17 No 2, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven Khalid, A (2008) Communicate with power, Leadership Margerison, C and McCann, D (1995) Team Management-Practical New Approaches, Management Books 2000, London Sisaye, S (2006) The Ecology of Management Accounting and Control Systems- Implications for Managing Teams and Work Groups in Complex Organizations, Greenwood Publishing Group Van Vijfeijken, H (2004) Managing Team Performance-Interdepenndence, Goals and Rewards, Universiteitdrukkerij

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Managing team performance. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Managing team performance

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