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Work Team Management

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Chrispegg
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Teams play a vital part of both personal and professional areas. While the terms group and team are used in seemingly interchangeable ways, it is very important to understand the differences between the two. Businessdictionary.com provides definitions for both a team and a group. A group is defined as a collection of individuals who have regular contact and frequent interaction, mutual influence, common feeling of camaraderie, and who work together to achieve a common set of goals. A team is defined as a group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project. Team members operate with a high degree of interdependence, share authority and responsibility for self-management, are accountable for the collective performance, and work toward common goals and shared rewards. A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members. While teams and groups are similar, team members are more interdependent in their task orientation, purpose, structure and familiarity between members. In a group, members work independently of each other to achieve their organizational goals while in a team, the members would work together to achieve a common goal. In sports like football, baseball and basketball, teams work together to play for and win championships. In much the same way, teams in a work environment work together to accomplish the goals of the organization. There are many studies that have researched how teams can be most effective. These studies analyze many facets of the team life-cycle; from the initial design of the team, to team coaching, to team recognition. Each of these facets has varying degrees impact of on the effectiveness of self-managing teams. Ruth Wageman, in her research paper entitled How Leaders Foster Self-Managing Team Effectiveness: Design Choices versus Hands-on Coaching, examined the effects of two kinds of leader behaviors – team design choices and hands-on coaching. Wageman’s research determined some interesting findings about selection of team members. The research clearly indicates that the dynamics of team members play a big part in a team’s success. Wageman’s research involved the study of thirty-four self-managing teams, split between consistently superb performers and consistently poor performers. The study took multiple measures of the design features of the teams, the team leader’s behaviors, and the level of team self-management. The measures were obtained using both structured interviews with the teams and their leaders and surveys completed by all team members. Measures of the team’s performance measures were determined from organizational archives. Wageman began her research project with two hypotheses. Hypothesis 1 stated that Well-designed team exhibit more self-management and are more effective than teams whose designs are flawed. Hypothesis 2 stated that teams that receive coaching exhibit more self-management, higher quality interpersonal relationships, and higher member satisfaction – but not higher task performance – than do teams that receive no coaching at all. Wageman found that the design of the team must have 4 conditions in order for the team to function optimally. The team needs to be a “real team” – that is, they must be more than people with similar job responsibilities. The team members must act as a collective. The team must also have “clear direction. The team must be focused on the end results and must have those results clearly communicated. The structure of the team must be “enabling”. This involves 5 basic design features: size, diversity, task interdependence, clear goals and targets, and strategic thinking. J. Richard Hackman and Ruth Wageman offer modeling advice about coaching work teams. Hackman and Wageman state that coaching helps people perform tasks. They point out that coaching is “pervasive throughout the life course” – from children learning new things, throughout schooling, and into adulthood. The purpose of the article is to discuss coaching that is specifically for task-performing teams. Hackman and Wageman discuss a new coaching model that has three distinguishable features. First, the model focuses on the functions that coaching serves for a team, rather than on either specific leader behaviors or leadership styles. Second, the model identifies the specific times in the task performance process when coaching interventions are most likely to have their intended effects. Third, the model explicates the conditions under which team-focused coaching is and is not likely to facilitate performance. The model seeks to provide a conceptual model that does explicate all links in that sequence, that takes explicit account of teams' temporal and organizational contexts, and that provides a sound basis for generating guidance for team coaching practice. Hackman and Wageman conclude that coaching must be conditional in order to be effective. The conditions regard organizational circumstances and coaches’ actions. From an organizational perspective, it is important that the team is well designed from the onset. It is also important that organizational requirements do not impede the group’s performance processes. From a coaching standpoint, the coach’s behaviors should focus on task performance process rather than on interpersonal relationships or processes that are outside the team’s control. Also from a coaching standpoint, the coach should only intervene at times when the team is ready for and able to deal with the intervention. Hackman and Wageman’s research suggests that intervention should be made at the beginning for effort-related (motivational) interventions, near the midpoint for strategy-related (consultative) interventions, and at the end of a cycle for (educational) interventions that address knowledge and skill. When these four conditions are present, skillfully provided coaching can yield substantial and enduring improvements in team effectiveness. Fred Luthans research paper entitled, The Impact of Recognition on Employee Performance: Theory, Research and Practice examined the theory, research and practice of the impact of recognition on employee performance. The paper discussed informal rewards; awards recognizing specific achievements and activities; and formal recognition rewards. Luthans states that although money receives the most attention as a reinforcer and incentive motivator, and is even equated with reward systems by practicing managers, there is increasing evidence that contingently administered recognition can be a powerful reinforcer to increase employee performance. The purpose of Luthans research paper is to provide reinforcement and social cognitive theoretical explanations and research results on recognition, explore the moderators of the relationship with performance, present some specific guidelines for effective implementation, and review representative applications. The paper focused on nonfinancial recognition. Luthan defined recognition as acknowledgement, approval and genuine appreciation. Not phony praise. Formal recognition consists of programs concerned with formal reward systems per se, rather than ways to specifically recognize employee behavior for performance improvement. These types of programs include employee of the month or million dollar round table systems. Informal recognition consists of things like serving employee’s lunch or dinner in recognition for a job well done; public recognition/social rewards; and examples such as the role of communication, time off, celebrations and the use of gift certificates, merchandise and recognition items (trophies, pins, and plaques). Awards recognizing specific achievements and activities consists of recognizing outstanding employees, productivity/production/quality, employee suggestions, customer service, sales goals, group/teams, and attendance or safety awards. Luthan concludes that the state of individual team member’s self-worth may be enhanced by recognition, which in turn helps overall performance improvement. Per the results of the study, recognition does have a positive impact in both manufacturing and service applications. The paper also suggests that there are a number of effective means of both formal and informal recognition that are popular and have broad appeal. There are also numerous examples and guidelines for effective implementation. Holpp lists the “5-P’s” that an organization should consider when deciding to implement self-managing teams - purpose, place, power, plan and people. After considering the 5 P’s and deciding to move forward with the team concept, management should focus on selecting the right people for the team, coaching the team and recognizing the team and individual team members when their efforts exceed expectations. Holpp states that bringing together people whose work is related and interdependent into a team allows them to work in a more collaborative manner to achieve individual, departmental and organizational objectives. After studying the research paper written by Wageman, I believe that team selection is somewhat deeper than Holpp suggests. I would change the statement to bringing together the RIGHT people whose work is related and interdependent into a team allows them to work in a more collaborative manner to achieve individual, departmental and organizational objectives.
Holpp lists “coaches on problem solving” as one of the 6 roles of a successful manager. He states that the coach’s job in problem solving is to learn the problem-solving model, master the tools and techniques, and work directly with the team to maintain momentum and keep it focused on its tasks. Holpp also lists “provides formal and informal recognition” as one of the 6 roles of a successful manager. He states that formal recognition is typically not immediate; therefore, informal recognition is the best tool to keep team members motivated between pay raises and promotions. By bringing together the right team members to form a self-managing team, providing constructive and timely coaching and recognizing and rewarding the team for its successes, teams can be an asset for any organization.

References:
Hackman, R., & Wageman, R. (2005). A Theory of Team Coaching. The Academy of Management Review, 30(2), 269-287. Retrieved May 15, 2015, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20159119
Holpp, L. (1999). Managing teams. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Luthans, F. (n.d.). The Impact of Recognition on Employee Performance: Theory, Research and Practice. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alex_Stajkovic/publication/228536942_The_Impact_of_Recognition_on_Employee_Performance_Theory_Research_and_Practice/links/09e4150c0d50777c37000000.pdf
Wageman, R. (2001). How Leaders Foster Self-Managing Team Effectiveness: Design Choices Versus Hands-on Coaching. Organization Science, 12(5), 559-577. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3085999
What is a team? definition and meaning. (n.d.). Retrieved May 13, 2015, from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/team.html#ixzz3a3hDZtG9
What is group? definition and meaning. (n.d.). Retrieved May 13, 2015, from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/group.html#ixzz3a3iRVYXb…...

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