It is important to ensure that the team for any specific task comprises members who are knowledgeable and posses the required skills needed to carry out the task. Teams should also try to work across organizational boundaries/levels and break down internal barriers and deal with people and issues directly and avoid hidden agendas from both within the group and from external sources.
Prior to selecting team members, the purpose and the reasons for creating the HPWT should be clear to the entire management members deciding on the team creation. Teams without a definite goal and aim, will drift and fail, since no goal and objective is set or a final objective identified. Getting together individuals possessing special skills, talents or expertise in order to build a team is critical. Important skills for a team include: "technical expertise," "problem solving," "decision making," and "interpersonal skills." (Thompson, Aranda, Robbins, & Swenson, 2000) Teams should establish and create a comfortable environment within which all the team members can operate. Good communication is required within the team for all policies and procedures to be implemented in the proper way. Teams should establish and create a comfortable environment within which all the team members can operate. A level of trust and respect will help get the best output from all team members.
The manufacturing industry especially in the developed countries are facing tremendous challenges with respect to the performance and productivity levels when compared to the less developed countries. Countries such as China have access to cheap labor and raw materials; they are able to produce goods at a much cheaper level consequently. There are however, a few companies in the developed countries that have been able to sustain and grow as a result of the smart utilization of its workforce. Thorne Lighting Ltd., a company in U.K has consistently shown that by developing and constantly training their workforce they have been able to deliver high quality goods and services while at the same time ensuring that the motivation and the skill levels of their workers are high.
Thorne realized that in order to improve its operations, the company had to ensure that "consistent information is cascaded through the business to shop-floor level." (ILO, 2000) the company was wise in realizing that it was important to involve workers at all levels in the planning and the decision making undertaken to develop strategies and plans for the organization. The manufacturing industry as a whole is highly unionized in most countries around the world. It is observed that unions display a high resistance to change and are generally not accepting of training and education that cross trains workers for different skill sets and capabilities. It is observed however, that if the union is apprised of the significance of the changes and the improvements and the impact of the improvements on the overall profitability to the company they might be more willing to aid the change. When the worker also benefits as a result of the change the work change is more easily accepted.
Berry, through his article, "The employee as customer," introduced a new dimension to the image of a company's customer. (Porter, 1996) This is true of manufacturing organizations that have been around for a long time and were often managed using either a traditional or bureaucratic form of management.. In the traditional organizational structure, the organization or business was based on a feudalistic concept. The ultimate power in the business rested with the owner of the business. Managers and supervisors enjoyed power and authority. Every decision and command was top down. Workers were merely expected to follow orders.
Productivity and management of the organization was often done using the principles of scientific management. (Taylor, 1998) Taylor identified that every process and task within an organization could be sub-divided into discrete events, each of which could be studied and analyzed for improvement. New and better "ways" of performing the tasks could then be taught to the worker. And the worker was expected to perform the task in the stipulated manner.
As management styles of manufacturing organizations have undergone various modification and changes over the years, workers view any change with skepticism and distrust. Workers in the manufacturing industry have also changed. In today's rapidly changing market, turnover times are relatively rapid. The average time spent by a worker with an employer has decreased significantly. The days of lifelong employment and worker loyalty are no more. "Sustaining emotional and psychological health is just as crucial as developing critical awareness" in any workforce. (Nesbit, 2004) by the turn of the 20th century, it was becoming clear that businesses, unions and governments had to work together to achieve any level of improvement.
While the management is often associated with having the knowledge and the formal training with respect to the task and the operations to be performed, the manager was far removed from the actual process. (Adams, 2002) on the other hand, the worker was always in close proximity with the task but did not have the intrinsic knowledge that might be required to solve a problem if it arose. Teams help in the distribution of the knowledge of the system from the management to the worker.
Training and educating of the workforce also helped in ensuring that the information was transferred in the shortest possible time from the shop floor to the manager and at the same time the worker was equipped to handle problems and issues that might arise in the course of the execution of his or her duties.
It is important that the information and data that is transferred is accurate and reliable. In this manner decision maker have dependable data sources to base their decisions on. In order to ensure that the data is accurate the worker should know the right manner of collecting the data for the analysis that will be conducted. The more training that the worker has the higher the chances that the organization employing these trained workers will be used in teams set up by the organization.
HPWT and multinational organizations
Self-managed work teams (SMWT) are used in multinational corporations. Kirkman, Gibson and Shapiro identified that a teams that had higher levels of resistance (to team concepts) also had lower levels of productivity, cooperation, and empowerment. (Kirkman, Gibson, & Shapiro, 2001) Cultural values are important for any society. These values are portrayed in the morals, laws, customs, and practices of that society. Individualism (self-interest)-collectivism (group interest) behavior can also impact the effectiveness of groups and teams that an organization set up in any country. HPWT also increasingly relies on individual accountability and responsibility that many cultures around the world may not easily embrace. Power, status and social positions also play an important role in the culture of an organization based on the geographical location. Doing-oriented and directive-oriented cultures and internal (free will) or external (deterministic) cultures greatly impact the effectiveness of the team.
Identifying and hiring the right person is important, especially when working in cross-cultural teams in a global environment. SMWT will also be more effective if the operations of the teams run in consonance with the local cultures and norms of the region. It is important that managers understand the cultural factors affecting the team in any given location, plan, and strategize accordingly to best optimize the skill set of the team members. Teams, depending on the location, may have a say in the formation, operations and effectiveness that the teams posses to attain the goal. Teams may differ in appearance based on location but the importance of the team structure for any organization cannot be denied.
Organizational structure is highly dependent and reliant on other units; and the ability to move expertise from one area to the other critical on organizations that rely on these measures. (Vires & Florent-Treacy, 2002) the organizational structure has become geocentric in nature where key decision makers may be located at various locations all over the world. Many of these locations are independent and contribute to the overall success of the organization. Global teams leaders are often faced with the challenge of ensuring that team members of HPWT at all locations feel involved and valued. This can be a challenge especially if the only contact the different team members might have is in the form of telephone or email contact. Technology and communication advancements have created a world where physical boundaries are becoming more blurred.
Mergers, acquisition and globalization have changed the face of organizations of the past. In addition, the rush to diversify and gain market share has forced companies to form alliances and collaborative ventures in order to obtain market share for their products. (Duarte & Snyder, 2001) Trust, Child identifies, is the most important factor in any organizational relationship. In the business sense, trust is having confidence in the partner or workers to conduct and perform their task in a manner agreed on. (Child, 2001) Organizations are faced with two types of uncertainties when undertaking collaborations --…