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The Team That Wasn't

One of the basic issues that human resource managers have to deal with is team effectiveness.
Where team effectiveness may be defined as the process by which a group is able to meet their
output targets or even exceed them, a group's decision making processes enhances their
abilities and a group's team members feel satisfied with their group. The latter three traits are
imperative for any team to function well within the workplace. However, the company under
consideration seems to be lacking almost all the latter traits as they have failed in achieving
cohesion between group members. The case study involves toplevel managers of various
divisions within a glass manufacturing company known as !ire "rt. #Wetlaufer, $%%&' The
essay seeks to examine the group dynamics that have led to this team's ineffectiveness.
Problem statement
!ire art's team is in a human resource crisis because( first, the work performance of the group
is below expectation because they have not achieved their sole mission. The second issue that
is seriously wrong with !ire art's groups is poor )uality of work life for the respective team
members as most of them are not satisfied with their own performances.
*xperts have suggested various channels that facilitate effective decisionmaking and good
teamwork. One such expert was +ellet #$%%,'( he found that successful teams have certain
characteristics that ascertain team effectiveness. !irst, they always make decisions within
climates that facilitate consensus building. -n this regard, all team members feel e)ually
important and are not threatened by any other member of the team. .pon investigating the !ire
art team, one can see that this environment is lacking. /ome members such as 0andy #director
of the sales and marketing division' intimidate introvert colleagues such as 0ay #a toplevel
manager in the manufacturing division'. The !ire art scenario lacks active engagement from all
members of the team.
The second aspect that +ellet #$%%,' observed was effective teams often understand their goals
and ob1ectives. These goals are also part of the team's role as they should participate in goal
setting. When this statement is applied to !ire art's team members, it is clear that they missed
that out. There team leader( *ric seems to be the only who decided on team goals and then
imposed them on his colleagues. -f the team members had participated in goal setting, then
perhaps the situation would carry less time constraints upon them and would create a sense of
ownership by the team members. -n this case, *ric decided that the overall goal of the group was
to restructure !ire "rt yet he did not engage the rest in determining this.
The third aspect essential in effective team work is having an attitude that prepares one to
embrace change. The team members at !ire art are ready for change in the organi2ation's
process but they are 1ust not ready to change their way of doing things. 0andy is one of the
group members with the least propensity to change his ways. However, *ric also needs to
change the way he handles this team because !ire "rt re)uires a different approach to his
former company's ways. "lso, 3aureen and 0ay need to reali2e that they have to be assertive
otherwise, 0andy
will keep undermining their suggestions and contributions. #4riffin, $%%&'
*ffective teams ought to have a shared concern for achieving success in their assigned tasks.
"gain, the fire art lacks this trait because most of them re concerned about the success of their
own portfolios rather than the overall success of the team. This could be seen by the ay
3aureen tried defending her division and her work over the years. "lso, 0ay depicted this lack
of shared concern by focusing on his line of work alone and 0andy did it too by focusing on
marketing alone. -t seems the only one who was very keen on success of the overall group was
the team leader alone. #4riffin, $%%&'
*ffect teams should constantly evaluate their performance and avoid the group think
phenomenon. With regard to the former aspect, !ire "rt's team members have not
conducted even one evaluation of their performance as their approach to their tasks is
hapha2ard. They
seem to be focused on the overall outcome alone and not on the processes of achieving this. Had,
the team engaged in performance evaluation, then they would have been more effective. The
second issue is about avoiding group think. This is a trait that is very common in the !ine "rt
group and could be the reason behind their problems. !or instance, when *ric was trying to
tell 0andy about his group domination, 0andy decide to walk out and the rest of the team
members slowly followed. -n addition, when the group had diverging ideas about how to
restructure the company, one of them excused herself from the meeting and the rest followed
thereafter. !urthermore when 0andy interrupted the group's proceedings by suggesting his
own views, the rest of the team stopped pursuing their train of thought and instead opted to
follow 0andy's. There is a serious problem with the way this group makes decisions. They
should not fear
exposing each others' diverging ideas, otherwise this undermines the very purpose of establishing
the group. -f the views of one individual keep taking precedence, then the overall
effectiveness of the group is undermined.
Environmental issues that led to Fire Art's business transition
!ire "rt's business transition process was prompted by the both internal and external factors
within the company. " 5*/T analysis of !ire "rts' business environment reveals the following.
5olitically, the business environment in -ndiana began favoring greater competition within the
private sector. *conomically, the companies competitors' began entering into their territory. !or
instance, instead of 1ust using mass production, !ire "rt's key competitors could now penetrate
into the units markets which had been !ire "rt's forte. /ocially, the company's consumers were
seasonal, they usually obtained glassware during the spring when there were sorority meetings
in schools or during the football season when they needed beer mugs. These fluctuations meant
that !ire "rt would have some dry spells. "lso, the company's designs may not have been in
line with current trends in the glass consuming industry. Technologically, !ire art was promoted
to change their business strategy owing to the fact that technology enabled their massproducing
competitors to produce glassware in smaller )uantities yet this had been !ire "rt's domain from
the start. #Wetlaufer, $%%&'
/ome of the internal structures that could have promoted the change in business strategy can be
highlighted through the &ps. !ire art needed to repackage their product offering. This meant
more input into their design phase. "lso, the company's distribution channels were not effective
enough to cope with consumer needs as they were not speedy #the latter was highlighted by
6arl'. "dditionally, its promotional strategy was out of tune with the way the business
environment because the company needed to offer special packages such discounts to its
clientele. 5ricing was also an issue as suggested by the director of sale and marketing. He
claimed that they needed to look for a way of cutting their throughput and raw materials in
to compete on the basis of price. His suggestions implied that the company was
underperforming in this realm. #Wetlaufer, $%%&'
Why the delegated assignment to middle management seems to be in trouble and why
the new model o collaboration is not working
The delegated assignment from senior management is not working owing to the fact that the
group has failed to reach a consumes on the way forward. Their overall purpose was to
restructure !ire art in order to make the company more effective in its business environment.
However, all the meetings the group has participated in have not led to substantial outcomes as
no specific path has been sort out. 7esides this, the assignment is in trouble because the team
has some internal problems as well. /ome team members such as 0andy have problems fitting
into their role as team members and this is slowing down the decision making process. To add
insult to in1ury, the assignment is also in trouble because there seems to too much tension
between the respective members of the team and this is impeding their progress. #4riffin, $%%&'
This model does not seem effective owing to the fact that the respective team has not
internali2ed its team mission. 7esides this, they are also having problems in achievement of
goals. 3ost of
the team members do no feel empowered and there is lack of honest communication between
them. 8astly, the team is not governed by positive norms and roles.
!kills that "andy and Eric need to develop
0andy was fond of operating as a leader within the organi2ation. However, he needs to change
this frame of mind because he is now working with a team. 0andy needs to develop attitudinal
skills towards teamwork. He also needs to improve his decision making process because he is
fond of coming up with solutions on his own. He needs to work on his communication sk ills
because he undermines his colleagues by his arrogant remarks. 0andy should also embrace
positive team norms because he seems to lack an understanding of what it means to work with
others. He overreacts when corrected and does not bother listening to others. These are all
issues that he should change. #Hoevemeyer, $%%,'
*ric on the other hand also has a huge task ahead of him. He needs to redefine team tasks
more clearly to his subordinates by learning team organi2ational skills. *ric ought to study the
organi2ational culture and realign it with team norms. He also needs to develop motivational
skill in order to boost the morale of the team members. 7esides this, is necessary for him to
sharpen his conflict resolution skills as he approached 0andy in a tactless manner during the
last meeting with the group. He needs to improve his communication skills too because these
will assist in clarifying tasks and understanding team members. -t is necessary for *ric to
develop good power distribution skills because he needs to make his presence felt as a leader of
the group. This can be done by ceasing control of the groups' interactions. #Hoevemeyer, $%%,'
#ierences between team and groups
Teams are different from groups because the latter are unified by one purpose and feel a sense
of ownership towards their organi2ation. Teams usually re)uire cohesiveness and coordination
in order to achieve their ob1ective while groups on the other hand may place more emphasis on
specific tasks at hand. -n this case, *ric is leading a team. The team is made up of people with
unified goal of restructuring the company.
$omparison o the decision making strategies at Fire art with other methods
One of the worst decision making strategies is when a team leader makes a decision privately
and merely informs the rest of team members about it. !ire "rt did employ this method
during the goal setting stage. -t a poor approach because it is the least participatory approach.
second model of decision making is when a team leader obtains decisions from various
of the team and then chooses to make his or her own independent decision. This methodology
does not apply to !ire art because no overall consensus was reached by *ric at the end of their
discussion with the team. "nother strategy is through consensus decisionmaking where all
members give their input and then agree on the final decisions. /uch a model is the best way
forward, however, this did not apply to !ire art owing to the fact their views keep diverging.
8astly decision making can be done through consensus with fallback where if the team fails to
reach an agreement then they can all decide to let the team leader make their decisions for
them. /uch a method is in sharp contrast to !ire arts' approach because the team members have
not accepted this #4riffin, $%%&'
"ecommendation/ Plan o action and advice to Eric
*ric need to address the root causes of the problems that the tem is currently undergoing. !irst
of all, he needs to start with goal clarification. This should involve all team embers. Thereafter,
he needs to assign specific roles to the team members and set standards for evaluating these
roles. "gain, the process should be based on consensus. "fterwards, he needs to conduct a test
through the West's climate for -nnovation )uestionnaire or though /tringer's 3otivation
6limate )uestionnaire. This will help him identify the problems team embers have and also his
problems. The results of the )uestionnaire should act as a guide for changing his style.
Thereafter, he needs to suggest a fallback strategy of decision making where the final decisions
should rest on him if there is failure to reach consensus. "gain, all team members should accept
that strategy. The last aspect he needs to work on is coordination especially with regard to
uncooperative members like 0andy. He should first communicate to 0andy in private about the
matter. -f this does not work, then 0andy should be given specific tasks to deal with away from
the group. #0obbins, $%%,'
Wetlaufer, /. #$%%&'9 The team that wasn't( Harvard 7usiness 0eview, :ovember $%%&
+ellett, /. #$%%,'9 *ffective teams at work( ;ournal of 3anagement <evelopment( =, $, >$$
0obbins, /. #$%%,'9 Organi2ational 7ehavior9 6ontroversies, 6oncepts and
"pplications( 5renticeHall
Hoevemeyer, ?. #$%%,'9 How effective is your team@ ;ournal of Training A <evelopment( &>, %,
4riffin, T. #$%%&'9 five universal keys to effective teamwork( -nternational 6onference on Work
Teams 6onference, B=B%