Ensuring Team Effectiveness

Introduction

The success of any organization depends on the effectiveness of its team of employees. Generally, every team must work together and remain cohesive during pursuing common goals and objectives. Indeed, the success of teamwork would be dependent on the competence of the team leader. Importantly, a team leader must have the skills to lead people from diverse backgrounds, maintain relationships among team members, and influence team members to focus on the achievement of common goals, among other attributes. As a newly employed team leader of Distribution and Warehousing, I would be tasked with restoring cohesion in the team as well as building mutual relationships within the team. This would entail several methods, but the focus would be on shared experience and behavioral change. Nevertheless, team effectiveness would depend on the soundness of steps involved in team development.

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Shared Experience Method of Team development

This entails bringing the team together and allowing members to interact and bond while at the same time learning from each other’s experiences. This would be an important initial method for Distribution and Warehousing Department because most of the team members are new to each other. Also, this method will establish a platform of knowing each of the team member’s qualities, personality, and characteristics that would allow the team leader to develop a good strategy of leading the team. The first step would be to arrange a meeting with the team members, during which I will let them introduce themselves in a general way. Being the forming stage where team members come together for the first time, there would be some level of uncertainty among members as they would not be free to communicate, so I would ask general questions and organize fun events to encourage team participation. Also, I would give each member a piece of paper to write down their expectations in the team; challenges faced and possible ways of solving such challenges.

During this initial meeting, we would discuss the issues brought to my attention by the senior managers in a neutral way, putting in mind that some members are new and may not be conversant with the organization’s culture. The emphasis would be put on Communication between team members and communication with the other teams within the organization. Moreover, we would discuss the organizational work ethics and goals, as well as the importance of prioritization of work in meeting the set goals. Lastly, but not least, we would try to establish a common understanding of the team’s purpose, role, responsibilities, plans, objectives, and accountabilities. Knowing that a team is a group of people who work together and are collectively responsible and accountable for a defined task, and each member has skills to contribute to the task Somech (2006).

This process of teambuilding would run for about one month to give team members enough time to collectively internalize the culture of the organization as well as establish close and cohesive relationships among each other and with other teams. If this does not work, I will focus on the second method of team development involving behavioral change.

Behavioral Change Method of Team Development

This method entails influencing team members to change their attitude or behavior towards a certain issue. This method would be suitable in the case of Distribution and Warehousing Department, where various performance and social issues have been identified. With poor results, breakdown in communication and non-existent teamwork, it is evident that the team members have a poor attitude that tends to affect their performance despite them being experts in their field. Being a competent team leader, I would first concentrate on teambuilding, streamlining communication, and establishing relationships within the team. Indeed, the main agenda would be to improve efficiency and productivity, which would be achieved if all members embrace positive behavior and appreciate diversity. Therefore, I would encourage members of the team to cooperate when performing their roles rather than compete with each other, since the ultimate goal is the success of the organization but not their successes.

Steps Taken in Developing a Competent Team

Forming Stage

The first step in developing a team would be the forming stage, where members would come together for the introduction purpose. Here, every team member would be expected to introduce himself or herself to other team members. During this time, the team leader would be expected to facilitate a bonding session that would emphasize encouraging every member to appreciate diverse backgrounds of other members. Also, the team leader would be expected to teach the culture of the organization to new employees within the team, as well as establish clear and effective lines of communication within the team. Finally, the team leader would facilitate a session where all team members would be required to participate in defining their roles, goals, expected outcomes, and course of action.

Transformation and Empowerment of Leadership Stage

After the first meeting, I will give the team one month, where I will engage in transforming and empowering leadership. According to Antonakis, Avolio & Sivasubramaniam (2003), transformational leaders should aim at creating positive change in their followers by communicating goals and articulating a vision that is appealing and inspiring. These leaders “motivate their followers to invest extra effort, which results in enhanced performance” (Burke et al. 2006, p. 143). Nevertheless, they are very competent in influencing commitment in pursuit of common goals.

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To work it out, I will employ the four components of transformational leadership suggested by Antonakis, Avolio & Sivasubramaniam (2003), which include “individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence.” Antonakis, Avolio & Sivasubramaniam (2003) define Individualized consideration as “the degree to which the leader acts as a mentor, observes followers’ developmental needs, and promotes growth.” Intellectual stimulation refers to the extent of influence a leader gives to followers aimed at identifying and resolving challenges encountered in the course of achieving goals.

Inspirational motivation reflects the ability to influence team members to focus on the vision and work towards its fulfillment. Lastly, idealized influence represents the degree to which the leader allows members to come up with new ideas. Antonakis, Avolio & Sivasubramaniam (2003) found that groups with a transformational leader produced qualitatively better solutions than did groups with other types of leaders. Likewise, other researches in experimental settings have found groups with a transformational leader to produce more creative and unique ideas to find original solutions, to make more supportive remarks, to perceive their performance as better, and to report more effort (Sosik 1997) than groups with a transactional leader.

To add to this, I will also apply empowering leadership, which focuses on the team. The main objective is to empower the team to work together as a self-managed group. Empowering leaders’ main approaches are coaching, facilitative leadership, and participative leadership (Pearce et al., 2003). The task is to facilitate team processes, thus enabling the team to manage itself. Research shows that empowering leaders encourage interactions between team members and assigns accountability to the team, thus enabling frequent team interactions. They also create a positive team climate that values teamwork and enables open communication and smooth collaboration. These intensified team interactions and the creation of a team-enhancing climate raises the probability of mood observation, imitation, and synchronization that, in turn, enables mood convergence.

After the first month, I will call for the second meeting; this will be the Storming stage where members can communicate. We will visit the performance plans to establish the expected outcomes, outputs, key performance indicators (KPI) and goals for the team, and appraise our performance so far in meeting the objectives and goals. This would be the right time to address the issues brought about by every member for the benefit of the whole team. Moreover, it will require the intervention of a team leader to quell any emotions within the group that may obstruct the smooth pursuit of objectives. After performance evaluation, we will establish a common understanding of team purpose, roles, responsibilities, goals, and accountability. I will set a clear action plan, that is agreeable to all, and link plan to team goals, and objectives, for example, policies, procedures, checklists, and so on. This is to ensure that there is a common understanding of team role and also the role of others in the organisation.

A statement of conduct would also be drawn to clarify what every employee is supposed to achieve as an individual and as a member of the team during his or her time in the organization. Also, the team will put down terms of conduct and measures to be taken in case of shortcomings as well as how to reward those who perform well. By setting objectives and goals together, it will help the team to take the responsibilities individually, and this will improve performance. During the meeting, I will also delegate some of my responsibilities to two members (supervisors) to work under me, who would be appointed by team members via secret ballot. The chosen ones will assist in supervision and data recording.

Brainstorming

During the second month, I will organize brainstorming sessions, with communication being via email and mobile phones to ensure that all members (new and old employees) have the opportunity to contribute towards the team’s plan and decision-making. This is the time to establish relationships among team members, as they would have an opportunity to share ideas and learn from one another. Moreover, I will put in place ways to monitor, measure, and evaluate team development. In line with this, Hackman (2002) makes a distinction between performance outcomes (performance quality, speed of solution, number of errors) and other outcomes (member satisfaction, cohesiveness, and attitude change). Here, Hackman (2002) identifies three criteria for outcome evaluation including “the result of the groups’ work, the willingness, and capability of the group to continue working together in the future, and the individual consequences of the collaboration including satisfaction and physical and mental health.”

According to Cohen & Bailey (1997), “measures of satisfaction, commitment, or absenteeism can be equally important.” Also, there are three measures of team outcomes including performance effectiveness assessed in terms of quantity and quality of outputs, member attitudes such as employee satisfaction, commitment, and trust in management, and lastly, behavioral outcomes such as absenteeism, turnover, and persistence (Schulz-Hardt and Brodbeck, 2012). Evaluating and analyzing all the attributes listed above will give me an insight into where we are and where we are going as a team. This is important because it helps to find out if we are meeting the organisation’s objectives and goals, and if not so, we change the approach.

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To sum up the team’s effectiveness, I will include the first performance on the bases of sales revenues, self-reported performance, delivery of products, and productive outcome. The second measure would be on production (number of products) or productivity (delivery of products and services). The third measure would be social criteria, which is the ability of members to work together. The fourth measure would be satisfaction with the team, meeting customer needs, and providing the right services to customers. Lastly, there would be personal criteria, which is the satisfaction of members’ needs.

Norming Stage

After the second month, I will evaluate the level of performance so far and concentrate on motivating and encouraging the team to move forward towards the ultimate goal. Every team member will be awarded according to the set agreements. Also, I will establish effective communication channels to enhance interaction and exchange of ideas; this may be in the form of formal meetings, informal interactions, and team-building exercises. By doing this, I will be creating a conduit for feedback from each member, which will be very important in performance appraisal.

Feedback is a vital tool in performance evaluation, as it helps the team leader to understand the degree of goal achievement and the direction in which the team is headed. Also, feedback helps in identifying the contribution of each member in the team’s performance and then rewarding them according. Moreover, the team’s dynamics become effective when there is cohesion within the group, which is a product of feedback. Feedback maintains focus for team cohesion, builds team-working capacity, and improves up-line communication. From the Norming phase, as a team leader, I would continue encouraging the team to increase performance while at the same time providing important logistical support and motivation.

Conclusion

Effective teams contribute significantly to the success of organizations. Various issues may hinder team performance among them being undefined communication, lack of cohesion, and divergent individual goals and interests. Therefore, every team requires a competent team leader who would create and maintain relationships among team members in pursuit of a common goal. Indeed, by following the clear steps of team development, I expect witness improvement in performance not only within the department but in the whole organization.

Reference List

Antonakis, J, Avolio, B & Sivasubramaniam, N 2003, ‘Context and leadership: An examination of the nine-factor full-range leadership theory using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire’, Leadership Quarterly, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 261-295.

Burke, C, Stagl, K, Klein, C, Goodwin, G, Salas, E & Halpin, S 2006, ‘What type of leadership behaviours are functional in teams? A meta-analysis’, Leadership Quarterly, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 288-307.

Cohen, S & Bailey, D 1997, ‘What makes teams work: Group effectiveness research from the shop floor to the executive suite’, Journal of Management, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 239-290.

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Hackman, J 2002, Leading teams: Setting the stage for great performances, HBS Press, Boston.

Pearce, C, et al. 2003, ‘Transactors, transformers and beyond: A multi-method development of a theoretical typology of leadership’, Journal of Management Development, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 273-307.

Schulz-Hardt, S & Brodbeck, F 2012, ‘Group performance and leadership’, in M Hewstone, W Stroebe & K Jonas (Eds), Introduction to Social Psychology, Springer, Berlin.

Somech, A 2006, ‘The effects of leadership style and team process on performance and innovation in functionally heterogeneous teams’, Journal of Management, vol. 32, no. 1, pp.132-157.

Sosik, J 1997, ‘Effects of transformational leadership and anonymity on idea generation in computer-mediated groups’, Group & Organization Management, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 460-487.

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