The Teamwork: Learning to Work Together

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Introduction

Teamwork is one of the most important aspects in modern organizations which influences their performance and profitability. Teams are an essential part of any organization. Critics explain that for successful performance, team members must cooperate to achieve overall objectives of the project. In many organizations, work statements are closely connected with plans, which can be defined as a statement of intent and must be owned by the people who own the project. Even on a single project the planner’s role is to interpret the ideas held in the heads of the project team and put them down on paper. It is not the planner’s role to decide and tell people what they should be doing. This shows the quality policy at the top of the pyramid as there is probably only one policy and this singular policy might be contained within a quality manual. Each phase starts with a set of information and ends with a set of deliverables. At the end of each phase is a ‘gateway’ through which the project can only proceed with the relevant approvals. The team selected for analysis is a real team working for a pharmaceutical company, Hitachi Group. The main responsibilities of the team are to control the quality of products and introduce improvements and low cost solutions to current products.

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Discussion section

LaFasto and Larson (2001) define a team as “a unique type of groups … which is made up of members who are not only technically competent but also good at collaborating with one another to reach their common objective” (p. 4). In a pharmaceutical company, the team is the main type which integrates the work of functional departments and employees. Members of the team agree to accept the authority of the project manager for the duration of the project. It is interesting to note that more ‘senior’ persons than the project manager are also in the team. Conventional vertical authority relationships are now changed and day-to-day working problems may have to be agreed or negotiated. It therefore becomes critical that the communications be straightforward, simple and understandable, while not insulting the intelligence of either the individual or institutional investor. Both the company and its shareholders are faced with a similar problem; both need to learn what is required to understand fully the issues being debated, the company from a viewpoint of communicating the issues–and the stockholder from a position of understanding the benefits and disadvantages of conflicting, complex and often persuasive arguments (Belbin, 2006).

Following Scholtes et al (2003) the main stages of teams’ development include forming, integrating new members, norming and performing. Each of these stages is crucial for success as it determines goals and direction of development. Sitting above the functional manager the hierarchy will extend upwards towards the board of directors. Somewhere alongside this part of the hierarchy will be the project-management team in a hierarchy of its own. To ensure effective work, program managers should control project managers who themselves might have phase managers, planners and other project-related engineers (Scholtes et al, 2003). For example, when faced with the prospect of moving to a team-based work environment, some employees in a study conducted in the United States expressed concerns that reflected their individualistic values. As temporary team structures, multicultural teams, and virtual teams proliferate, these team-savvy practitioners will be able to lead their organizations through successful implementation and use of teams in multinational contexts (Carr, 2002).

To address these potential impediments, HR practitioners can encourage sharing practices within and between organizations, observe and adapt to organizational environmental trends, and maintain awareness of cultural convergence. HR professionals who can change their assumptions and are adept at modifying basic HR practices will be better poised to face future trends in the use of teams that are just on the horizon (Scholtes et al, 2003). Effective communication is a critical tool for increasing employees’ awareness of the value of their contribution to the organization’s success and for creating a dialogue with their managers that can enhance the contributions that employees can make. Change and organizational transformation are unlikely to occur without new values being introduced into the performance management system. Declarations by senior management are insufficient to drive the new behaviors needed for cultural change; rather, these behaviors must be embedded in the performance fabric and woven into daily efforts and priorities. Thus, if an organization’s goal is to increase worker participation, it must not overlook its computer applications (Cleland, 1996). They can facilitate or inhibit information sharing and interaction within an organization, and thereby facilitate or inhibit the maintenance and growth of worker participation in the organization as well.

Effective communication is a core of teamwork and performance management, bonding together all the elements of organizational success into a single, aligned process that channels employee performance toward the same organizational goals and reinforces and maintains that alignment through reward and recognition programs. If the power of this tool can be harnessed and used to the fullest, then organizations can better their chances of success in a highly competitive business world. The main recommendations for successful team work are: “clarity in team goals, a plan for improvement, clearly defined roles, clear communication, beneficial team behaviors, balanced participation, awareness of the group processes” (Scholtes et al , 2003, p. 6-10).

Each team should identify a set of critical measures representing a combination of results and process-oriented outcomes. Process measures identify key behaviors that the team can change in order to improve results. Teams should avoid developing too many measures. If a measure is not critical in guiding the team’s behavior, then discard it. Most experts recommend that teams track six to ten performance area (Cordery, 2005). Finally, in team-based organizations, people are responsible for collective performance at multiple levels. Individual, team, and business unit performance must be evaluated. Optimizing performance at any one level may hurt performance at other levels. The link between behavior at one level and performance at another may be uncertain. People are often concerned that they will not get adequate feedback on how they are performing when the focus is on collective performance. Therefore, appraisal systems should assess behaviors that contribute to performance of other units or other levels within the organization. Task functions involve control and coordination (Cleland, 1996). The author states: “A strength of the earned value approach is that we are not restricted to an aggregate overview of the project. Budget and schedule analysis can occur at any level of the work breakdown structure” (LaFasto and Larsen, 2001, p. 54).

The main challenges for the team will be independent thinking and decision-making. Managers solve problems, schedule and assign work, and even handle personnel issues such as absenteeism and discipline. All these duties were previously prerogatives of management. Consequently, the team must now hold the responsibility and authority to implement solutions if it is to be effective. An inspiring vision is needed at all levels of the organization from the executive suite to the mailroom. A correctly delivered vision serves that purpose and conveys the need for change. That need is usually larger than the organization itself, and is something that the individual can accept. Every organization has a purpose outside itself that the individual person can commit to and goes to the very survival of the organization (Cleland, 1996).

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Most team members should pay attention to the big picture of business but neglect small details. Also, transformational leadership is based on change while most of the employees resist and fear constant change. Thus, the ability to focus on goals and the issues surrounding them is the primary concern. If team members respect each other’s competence, most personality problems will work themselves out. Furthermore, the more time a team spends on interpersonal relationships, the less effective it becomes. There is an inverse correlation between the time spent on “people problems” and team effectiveness. This will lead to the situation when the team members respond to feedback in terms of commitment to team goals, interest in the team task, or attraction to the team (Cordery, 2005). There can be one member in a team to whom people never gave feedback. Having this employees share his feedback and ask his peers for help in living the values is a dramatic event for the team. It would clearly be risky to allow employees to serve as their own main source of feedback if they lacked experience. Interfering practices between response and delayed feedback–highly likely in a work environment–can adversely affect improvements. Stockholders, however, must rely on the communications they receive from both sides of the dispute, what they read in advertisements, newspaper stories, or security analysts’ reports. In addition, the stockholder is further handicapped by the sheer mass of communications received from both sides as terms and conditions change or material relevant facts become known (Gratton and Erickson, 2007).

The industry depends upon effective leaders who establish clear goals for the entire organization. At Hitachi, proclaiming decision-making and problem-solving skills that have made them so successful, managers readily take responsibility for other people’s problems and give them back ready-made solutions. Indeed, top managers gain authority in the first place because they take responsibility and solve problems with such composure. Managers rarely receive promotions for providing the leadership required to do adaptive work. Management gains commitment to performance through contractual arrangements, leadership through empowerment. As the corporate world has become better aware of these essential distinctions, more and more resources have gone into training and educating about leadership competencies (LaFasto and Larsen, 2001).

Management can be seen as an organization that pays record compensation to attract the best and brightest executive talent to lead them safely through today’s turbulent business environment. Many boards and executive recruiters assume that there exists an elite corps of individuals who possess leadership skills that have almost universal application. With the realization that organizations once considered paragons of management effectiveness were faltering in the face of dramatic competitive challenges, many began to suspect that the two roles involved different skill sets. It was conceivable that a company could be well managed but poorly led. In good times, a well-managed company might enjoy great success. Adopting a marketing (diversity-based) approach, it again seems unfruitful to argue that research should be structured to yield analytic knowledge or that research should be structured so as to produce intuitive knowledge. Every mender of staff should feel as a part of its team accepting views and traditions of the publishing industry. It is important to distinguish between intent and manner of implementation, because only actions have an influence on organizational performance and its successful planning (Teale, 2003). Their sole common attribute is their knowledge and professional skills to make sure the goal is clearly defined and high-performance expectations are set. How aims and expectations are established is a matter of style, but setting them is a matter of performance and positive results. In order to improve leadership skills, an individual should take into account situational variables and consequences of decisions (LaFasto and Larsen, 2001).

Conclusion

In sum, effective and successful teams focus on issues pertaining to the team goal. Both relate to how the leader manages the team and both bring focus on the task to be done; however, they are different in very specific ways. Combining individual strengths means influencing rather than directing. Influencing requires a different skill than managing in a hierarchical structure, where direction is more common. One of the most potent ways in which the leader can exert influence is by example. Leaders and managers can introduce training and learning courses in order to ensure high professionalism of workers. This strategy will help managers to create a positive culture and an organizational environment. With this knowledge, a team leader can delegate authority more easily in order to make plans effective, within the budget limits.

References

Belbin R, (2006). Team Roles at Work, Butterworth-Heinemann, UK

Carr C, (2002). Teampower: Lessons from America’s top companies on putting teampower to work. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs N.J

Cleland D I. (1996). Strategic Management of Teams. John Wiley and Sons, USA.

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Cordery J, “Team work”, in Holman D, Wall T D, Clegg C W, Sparrow P and Howard A (eds), (2005). The Essentials of the New Workplace. John Wiley and Sons, UK,

Gratton L and Erickson T J. (2007). 8 ways to build collaborative teams, Harvard Business Review, Nov, pp. 101-109.

LaFasto, F., Larsen, C. (2001). When Teams Work Best. Sage Publications.

Scholtes, P. R. Joiner, B. L., Streibe, B. J. (2003). The Team Handbook Third Edition. Joiner/Oriel Inc; 3rd edition.

Teale, M. (2003). Management Decision Making. Financial Times Prentice Hall, London, UK.

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