Free Research Paper On Efficient And Effective Organizational Management Through Application Of Team Building Principles
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The field of management has undergone a lot of changes over the years, a significant component of this being reliance on teams for organizational operations. Contemporary organizations rely more on teams to attain pertinent goals. It is evident that an organization can manage more efficiently and effectively by applying team building principles (Saha, 2007). This paper examines the concept of team building, the theoretical and practical implementation in firms, the inherent success of this approach and lessons learned during this research.
What is team building?
It is important, though, to understand that teams are temporary and not permanent units (Parcon, 2007). Some teams are cross-functional, which implies that members are drawn from different department to work on a project that is mutually beneficial to the organization. Other teams are functional, in which case members are drawn from the same department to spearhead specific tasks. Teams can also be virtual, especially in the digital age where companies are global in nature thus necessitating the holding of meetings from remote locations, connected by video-link.
In simple terms, team building refers to the structured activities that team members engage in, together with the strategies that lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness (Griffin & Moorhead, 2012) describe team building as a procedure of coming up with a group of persons with the skills, commitment and characteristics necessary for attaining a specified purpose. Team leaders may design the activities by themselves or they can enlist the services of an external facilitator. Such activities include discussions on pertinent issues, ice-breakers, mutual brainstorming and assignments (Mackin, 2007). This is accomplished within an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.
Origin of Team Building
The idea of working in teams cannot be attributed to any one individual. Human beings, as they evolved, realized the idea to hunt as teams since this would yield better results. Similarly, current team building studies are enriched through watching how animals hunt. For example, wild dogs are typical examples of the importance and efficiency of teamwork in accomplishing tasks. In essence, while management scholars are at the forefront of teaching team building, they cannot claim to own the idea.
According to Martin (2013), teamwork can be traced to the work of Maximilian Ringelmann. He was a French agricultural engineer, born in 1861, and the proponent of the ‘social loafing concept’. He established that when people pulled a rope together, the accomplished a greater task with less individual effort. He called this social loafing and claimed that mutual efforts tend to obscure absence of personal effort. Ringlemann cited the danger of some people leaving others to do communal work since personal effort was not recognized and was difficult to measure. However, the important issue is that he established that when a task is performed by a group, the synergy created promotes efficiency and effectiveness (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2009).
Saha (2007), on the other hand, attributes the roots of teamwork to the Hawthorne Studies of 1927 to 1932. The researchers in this case purposed to study the relationship between working conditions and productivity. The findings indicated that social support and cohesion increased as workers interacted. One of the scholars, Elton Mayo, concluded that some crucial factors determined the effectiveness of teams. To begin with, the team leader took a personal interest in the achievements of every member. The leader was also proud of what the team achieved. In addition, the manager merely facilitated the group to work, without being intrusive or domineering, but gave feedback on performance. On the other hand, team members were happy with their achievement and did not feel pressurized to change. Members were consulted prior to implementation of any pertinent change and were confident. These were the findings upon which team work in the organization context is premised.
Team Building Principles
Team building activities are guided by several principles (Lehman & DuFrene, 2011). To begin with, team leaders must share the guiding vision and success criteria with members. A team is not an autonomous entity but a sub-set of the larger organization and that means teambuilding activities must contribute to the success of the larger organization. When various teams are guided by the same vision, the organization becomes efficient and effective.
Secondly, Hayes (2002) asserts that leaders must serve as role models for the other team members. This is especially true when it comes to respecting the opinions of others and not dominating proceedings. Often, team members are more informed and experienced than the leader in respective areas of specialization. This happens in cross-functional teams where the leader is merely a facilitator. The leader must listen and interact with members with fairness, understanding and respect, regardless of what he thinks about their contributions and criticisms.
In addition, Lussier and Achua, (2013) opine that constant and effective communication is a crucial team building principle. An organization’s vision, mission, mandate and strategies must be very clear to the team members who are tasked with implementation. Communication also implies instituting practical mechanisms for receiving feedback from teams, whether negative or positive. The more team members understand their roles and the larger organizational picture the more effective and efficient an organization will be.
Another key principle of team building is to encourage participation (Moregeson, DeRue & Karam, 2010). Teams are designed to elicit and harness contributions from members, especially because large groupings of employees tend to discourage many workers from participating or contributing ideas. Urging workers to participate in teams will result in feelings of self-worth, contribution of practical ideas and organizational cohesion.
Griffin and Moorhead (2012) also advance the principle of inculcating discipline among members. While greater efficiency and productivity can be achieved when teams work optimally, indiscipline and lack of respect for the opinions of others can result in conflict, indolence and total collapse of teams. Team leaders must, therefore, take charge of proceedings and grant every participant the right to be heard and respected.
Additionally, for effectiveness and efficiency to be achieved, team leaders need to maintain balance and fairness. Every person’s contribution is important and no one person or a few individuals should dominate proceedings. It is natural for human beings to be selfish while some people also tend to withdraw their opinions when they feel slighted (Fapohunda, 2013).
The last principle of team management is to acknowledge and recognize team success and contributions (Boller, 2005). Very few, if any human beings are averse to genuine praise for their work. Such action tends to motivate recipients to perform at higher levels. Team leaders must acknowledge every contribution and collective effort, and, if they have the power to do so, they can secure monetary rewards from the organizations for team members.
Implementing Team Building Principles in Organizations
According to Griffin and Moorhead (2012), the responsibility of implementing team building principles in organizations lies first with organizational leaders. The owners, shareholders and top management must first recognize the importance of working with teams before instructing functional managers to create respective teams. Every firm or institution must appreciate the benefits of categorizing employees in groups as this yields more results within shorter times as compared to working with the entire organization as one group. To this end, top management needs to empower groups and to create concomitant reward systems to motivate teams that excel. If an organization adopts teamwork as a policy, it will be easy to implement principles of team building in the organization. Further, it is important to realize that working teams are part of delegation, a crucial aspect of modern managerial practice.
At a practical level, though, functional managers are the real implementers of team management principles considering they are the ones who constitute teams and in some cases lead these groups. To begin with, managers must identify the characteristics and skills that they need for successful teams based on tasks they want to be performed. Once the right team is assembled, the implementation of team building principles begins (Mackin, 2007).
Parcon (2007) asserts that a team leader begins by setting the vision and agenda for team members. Since team participants are drawn from the organization, they already know what the firm stands for. However, the leader must integrate the functions of a team with those of the organization, illustrating how the team will aid the organization to achieve its goals. Within this context, the success criteria should be defined by clearly setting out performance targets and pertinent timelines. During meetings, leaders invite all members to participate, recognize contributions and complement members when necessary (Moregeson, DeRue & Karam, 2010). Further, team leaders are alive to the possibility of conflicts and are equipped with respective management skills. Their work is to moderate discussions and to ensure that team members do not digress to non-issues or personal matters. Within this atmosphere of constant communication, mutual respect and universal participation, team goals are achieved, and the leader must acknowledge this and thank members for their contributions. Moreover, being part of organizational management and leadership, the team leader should explore avenues for his team to be rewarded, where possible by the organization.
How Microsoft Inc. Implements Team Building Skills
Microsoft Inc. is the technology behemoth that was created by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975. As a technology company, it is expected that most of its employees are highly specialized people who work tirelessly to create both hardware and software solutions for daily problems. Although the retired Gates still plays a minor but crucial role in the success of the company, it is Steve Ballmer who is at the helm now and the world is watching to see what long-term success he will achieve.
According to Wartzman (2013), Microsoft moved from merely having teams to creation of teamwork. Ballmer wanted to shift from a scenario where his company resembled a collection of various autonomous departments to a situation where Microsoft was viewed as one company with a holistic line of products. This was a time when the company, though still profitable, was lagging behind its competitors in two crucial markets – tablets and smartphones. Even with the complexity of the organization, the CEO realized the need for concerted efforts and delegation while at the same time maintaining the unity of the whole. Collaboration between employees towards achieving organizational goals was identified as a key strategy for creating a bigger share in a crowded and stiff market.
In the same year, the company announced that it was ditching its performance appraisal system in which it had rated employees purely on personal effort. Henceforth, teamwork would drive business and innovation at Microsoft. The company expected that this would foster innovation through synergistic interaction while at the same time increase customer satisfaction and loyalty through quality products. The firm began to appraise its employees not only on their individual contribution to organizational goals but also how they leveraged the ideas and input of their colleague, how they helped their workmates to succeed and the overall impact of these three aspects on increased business for Microsoft. Eventually, the rewards and punishment systems is to be hinged on teamwork and teambuilding.
It is evident from this case study that Ballmer understands the principles of team building and how they can contribute to organizational effectiveness and efficiency. For example, he asserts that every team player must contribute to the other’s success and that of the organization. This will necessitate mutual communication and respect for the contributions of the other team member. Microsoft employees will be disciplined and will participate actively to make the firm effective and efficient. Through the new system of appraising employees, the CEO will get feedback and reward employees accordingly. In essence, Ballmer expects the success of Microsoft to stem from the synergy of employees talents and sharing of ideas through teamwork.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Implementing Team Building Principles
Topchik (2007) posits that team building skills has numerous advantages. To begin with, they make the firm more efficient and effective by harnessing individual and group talents. Employees also feel valued and end up contributing more that they would have done when working as a larger unit. Implementing these principles helps the organization to improve performance because weak and strong employees learn from one another.
On the other hand, there are few disadvantages of team building principles. For example, some employees tend to ride on the back of others by not contributing much to team activities. Further, team members who feel aggrieved by their colleagues who ride on others’ success are likely to leave the organization. Moreover, some workers are introverted and may not feel comfortable being pressurized to give their opinions in a team, even though they are knowledgeable. Another problem that may arise from these principles is in the failure by the leader to control egos, especially in cross-functional teams, where some members may feel their departments and ideas are more important than the rest (Hiriyappa, 2013).
Conclusion and Lessons from this Research
After studying several organizations and scholarly works on team management principles, I am convinced that no organization, especially those with several employees, can succeed without teams. Secondly, just like with Microsoft Inc. having teams is important, but harnessing them through these principles is equally more important. Further, I now know that bringing together employees with different talents, skills and attitudes creates synergy and results in improved organizational performance. Lastly, the best way to lead teams is to treat members as human beings with feelings, egos and knowledge, which implies I must allow each person to express themselves and respect what they say, in addition to listening keenly.
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