Researching of Team Development

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Introduction

The formation of the team is only the initial step of the process required to facilitate the effective cooperation of individuals in a company. For example, Tuckman described four stages of team development that include elements such as conflict and the development of creative confrontation that are necessary to create an adequate work environment. As a leader, one can employ the path-goal theory, which emphasizes the importance of following a certain path to achieve the organization’s goals. This paper will discuss the model of team formation path-goal leadership approach and use the example of Apple to illustrate these concepts.

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Tuckman’s 4 Stages of Team Building

Tuckman described the stages that groups of people go through when collaborating with one another, which help understand the specifics of group work and the role of the individual and their development in the context of the group. Stein (n.d.) states that many authors, including contemporary human resources practitioners and researchers, have written a variation of Tuckman’s work, adapting his model to contemporary conditions or industry specifics. However, the model developed by Tuckman in the 1960s remains the most comprehensive one that describes the stages each team undergoes when working together and the specifics that a leader should pay attention to enhance an individual’s development.

Under Tuckman’s theory, there are four stages of team development: “forming, norming, storming, and performing” (Tuckman, 1965, p. 384). At the forming stage, the team members get acquainted with one another and familiarize themselves with the dynamics of the group. Hence, they may test the waters by trying out different behaviors and observing the reaction to them from the other group members. In Tuckman’s description, this stage aligns with orientation and dependency, where the guidance from the group leader is central. Additionally, it is important to note that during this stage, the majority of team members demonstrate their best behavior.

The next stage is storming, which is marked by conflicts among the group’s members. This stage requires attention because if the leader fails to create a good atmosphere, the storming stage will result in the disillusionment of the group (Forming, storming, norming, and performing: Tuckman’s model for nurturing a team to high performance, 2021; The five stages of team development, 2021). During storming, some group members may develop a sense of resentment due to the conflicts, while others may resort to forming subgroups with different views on the issues. Although this stage appears to have negative connotations, Tuckman (1965) argues it is necessary. Teams that do not go through the storming stage, which happens, are less creative and more divided when compared t those who went through a conflict and learned to deal with it as a group. This is because, in the conflict that is integral to the storming stage, team members learn to voice their opinions, while if they do not undergo this, the majority will follow the suggestions and ideas proposed by the leaders of the strongest members of the group.

The third stage is norming, where the members of the group learn to focus on the day-to-day work and resolve the conflicts at hand. While at this stage, the group can work effectively on the tasks at hand, the danger of the norming stage is that the members may be subjected to the “group think,” which is a concept explaining how people avoid controversial ideas and do not voice opinions that may contradict what the majority of the group thinks. Evidently, the task of the leader at this stage is to help support the creativity and diversity of opinions of the group members.

Finally, the performing stage is where the product of teamwork can be witnessed. At this stage, the group members work effectively in collaboration with one another and show adequate performance that allows for achieving the organization’s goals. Moreover, during the performance process, the group members agree on their mutual goals and strategies to achieve those, as well as have a good approach to resolving conflicts effectively and benefitting the group. Tuckman (1965) argues that at this stage, the conflicts are resolved innovatively, and the confrontation is creative. Hence, this final stage defines the collaboration of the group in general and in the future and shows whether the members have successfully undergone the team formation process from the previous stages.

Tuckman’s model also helps explain the specifics of the individual’s behavior and development, considering the group’s dynamic. According to Stein (no date, para. 3), “understanding why things are happening in certain ways on your team can be an important part of the self-evaluation process.” For example, during the forming stage, individuals are usually excited about the work ahead; however, they may also feel anxious due to them not being sure if they will fit into the group. Hence, at this stage, individual’s development is focused on asking as many questions as possible and testing the acceptable behaviors and attitudes in this group environment. Next, during the storming stage, an individual’s development is focused on the approaches to resolving conflicts considering the group dynamics (Stein, no date). The members may feel frustration and anger due to them not living up to the expectations of the team’s performance. At the norming stage, the members can express their actual ideas and feelings that are not subjected to censorship required to avoid conflict (Stein, no date). From the viewpoint of individual development, this is an important stage since here one can enhance their creativity and innovative thinking. Finally, the performance stage allows one to feel confidence and pride in their achievements and the effective work of this team.

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Path-Goal Theory and Leadership Style

The path-goal theory emphasizes employees’ process when trying to achieve a goal. Robert House developed this theory in 1971 as part of his work for the Wharton School of Business. Under this theory, a leader is responsible for “clearing the path” that the employees need to achieve their goals. When reflecting on this approach, it is evident that the path-goal theory emphasizes the role of the leader as someone capable of creating the conditions and the appropriate environment to ensure that the employees have everything they need to achieve their goals. This theory was developed under the premise that by following a specific path, a person can achieve what they want, and in the organizational context, following a path helps achieve the desired strategic targets (An example of path-goal leadership, 2020).

Domingues et al. (2017) argue that specific elements of the path-goal theory allow leaders to clear the way for their followers. For example, the management defines the goals of performance and provides a clarification of these targets. This clarification factor also involves answering the employees’ inquiries about the goal, addressing any questions they might have, and providing additional clarifications on demand (An example of path-goal leadership, 2020). Next, such leaders set goals that challenge the employees; however, they also provide reassurance that the followers are capable of achieving these results. Hence, this combination of the challenge and reassurance helps support the individuals’ intrinsic motivation to achieve more with their work. Moreover, Sousa and Rocha (2017) note that it is important to ensure that the organization’s goals align with the employees’ intrinsic motivation.

Another distinct feature of the path-goal leader is that they are directly involved with their employees and constantly request the latter to share their input and ideas on their issues. This cooperation also emphasizes the nature of the path-goal approach, which is based on the leader’s creation of the conditions that will allow the followers to achieve their goals. In this case, the followers’ input becomes essential for understanding how the targets can be reached. Moreover, throughout this process, the leader provides the followers with reassurance and support, showing their care for the well-being of these individuals and not only for their performance results (An example of path-goal leadership, 2020). Thus, a leader employing the path-goal approach assists their followers, includes them in the decision-making process, and creates an environment in which the workers can follow the path that will allow the organization to achieve its target.

An example of an organization where the path-goal leadership theory is applicable is Apple under the leadership of Steve Jobs. Jobs are described in the literature as a controversial figure, and some argue that he was rather a strict manager; however, others emphasize his ability to set targets and help the employees achieve these goals. For example, although Jobs was the one to make the final decisions regarding the product’s design, he also emphasized the importance of having the right people to complete the task (Steve Jobs and the path-goal mentality, no date). Moreover, he recognized that teams are the ones achieving great things in business and not individuals, which means that Jobs both hired people he knew were professionals and worked on team development to ensure that synergy can be achieved through their collective effort. Hence, Steve Jobs is an intriguing example of a path-goal leader because he was the one responsible for the final decision; however, he created the team environment necessary to achieve great results.

Job’s application of path-goal leadership is consistent with its supportive and participative derivatives. This is because, as a leader, he did not simply direct the employees to complete the tasks he perceived as necessary (Campos, 2020). Instead, he collaborated with them, providing guidance and direction while allowing the employees to work autonomously. Thus, Jobs permitted the teams to have autonomy, despite having control over the final decision.

When assessing Apple’s employees’ team performance and productivity, one can argue that the leadership approach has been highly effective. This company is among the ones recognized for its achievements in product design and as a successful business. Moreover, Apple is among the top employers in the United States, which suggests that its approach to human resource management and individual development is appropriate (Seow, 2021). In summary, the method that Jobs implemented when managing the teams at Apple is consistent with the path-goal leadership theory and has made this company successful.

Business Scenario: Apple

Change Management

The practical work of an organization is linked to the change and ability of the teams to innovate and adapt to the disruptions in the industry. Apple is an excellent example of change management because the company’s products were pioneers in many categories, such as smartphones or wireless headsets, and the innovative approach to design is a challenge to the entire industry of electronics. Change, however, is often affected by the barriers within the organization and the individual’s perceptions.

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According to Podolny and Hansen (2020), Jobs innovated the approach to organizational design when he arrived at Apple to eliminate barriers to innovation. For example, he fired all the general managers of the departments, who were often in conflict with one another over the transfer prices. By doing this, Jobs created more alignment between departments, in a way making Apple’s employees one team instead of maintaining a sense of division between the different groups which worked on different tasks.

Arguably, this allowed to eliminate the organizational barrier to change because the innovations and decision-making were now centralized, and all divisions could participate in this process directly. Moreover, individual-level barriers were eliminated as well because Jobs removed the competition between the individuals within the team and instead aligned their work with Apple’s goals. Perceptions, stereotyping, empowerment, and individual differences are the most common causes of conflict that do not allow for the implementation of change in a given environment (9.4. Barriers to effective teams, 2017). These can include various factors, such as a language barrier, physical distance between team members, cultural differences, and communication issues, all of which will impact how people collaborate and work together.

Social Capital Theory and Contingency Theory

Both the social capital and contingency theories help explain people’s behaviors and allow to make changes necessary to facilitate effective team performance. Social capital can be broadly defined as all the resources that are inherent to interpersonal relations. Using Apple’s example, the organizational structure that existed before Jobs contributed to the competition between the department heads for additional funding and resources, which is a natural element of human behavior in conditions where resources are limited. In a new structure that Jobs introduced, the heads of the departments and the teams all worked in collaboration to allow Apple to achieve its goals, which would result in more resources for the team.

The contingency theory addresses the question of the best structure and approaches to organizational management (McAdam et al., 2017). Under this theory, it is assumed that there is no single best approach to the creation of a team and instead, varied factors such as the specifics of the business and industry, the goals, communication styles, leadership approaches, and others will affect the way that a company operates and achieves its goals (McAdam et al., 2017). Hence, even when discussing case studies such as the one about apple, one should note that this is a single example of success, and the strategies used by Jobs must be adapted to the organizational environment of the business that wants to employ a similar approach.

Decision Making and Conflict Management

The decision-making and conflict management at Apple were dependent on the organization’s leader at the time when Jobs was a CEO. Although this eliminated the possibility of the teams collectively making the appropriate decisions and resolving conflicts, as was previously discussed, Jobs adhered to the path-goal approach, which means that he understood the steps one had to take to create the environment that will allow employees to achieve the goals set by the organization. Under the contingency theory, there is no single best approach to management, and in the case of Apple, the decision-making was the task of the CEO. However, many businesses employ a shared decision-making tactic and allow the employees to share their viewpoints and perspectives regarding the issues. Similarly, conflict resolution can be addressed in multiple ways, one of which is through group discussion and the facilitation of adequate communication between the conflicting members of the team.

Conclusion

In summary, this paper focuses on the critical aspect of HR management: team development and the impact of teams on the growth of individual employees. The four stages that describe the dynamics of any group of people are forming, storming, norming, and performing, which were first described by Tuckman. Apple under Job’s leadership is an excellent example of how the path-goal concept helps facilitate effective teamwork. The final paragraphs of this paper represent a case study on change management and barriers to change using Apple’s example.

Reference List

An example of path-goal leadership (2020). Web.

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Campos, A. (2020) An Apple example of the path-goal theory. Web.

Domingues, J., Vieira, V. and Agnihotri, R. (2017) ‘The interactive effects of goal orientation and leadership style on sales performance’, Marketing Letters, 28(4), pp. 637-649. Web.

The five stages of team development (2021) Web.

Forming, storming, norming, and performing: Tuckman’s model for nurturing a team to high performance (2021). Web.

McAdam, R., Miller, K. and McSorley, C. (2019) ‘Towards a contingency theory perspective of quality management in enabling strategic alignment’, International Journal of Production Economics, 207, pp. 195-209. Web.

9.4 barriers to effective teams (2017) Web.

Podolny, J. M. and Hansen, M. T. (2020) How Apple is organized for innovation. Web.

Seow, J. (2021) Google, Apple top ranking of S’pore’s best employers. Web.

Sousa, M. and Rocha, Á. (2019) ‘Leadership styles and skills developed through game-based learning’, Journal of Business Research, 94, pp. 360-366. Web.

Stein, J. (no date) Using the stages of team development. Web.

Steve Jobs and the path-goal mentality (no date) Web.

Tuckman, B. (1965) ‘Developmental sequence in small groups, Psychological Bulletin, 63, pp. 384-389.

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BusinessEssay. 2022. "Researching of Team Development." September 17, 2022. https://business-essay.com/researching-of-team-development/.

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