Luke Associates is an up-and-coming service-based firm with a bright future. Like all emerging firms it is striving to find a way to ensure that its work teams are serving the organization in a functional and effective manner. "Whether in the workplace, professional sports, or your local community, team building requires a keen understanding of people, their strengths and what gets them excited to work with others. Team building requires the management of egos and their constant demands for attention and recognition -- not always warranted. Team building is both an art and a science and the leader who can consistently build high performance teams is worth their weight in gold" (Llopis 2013). Luke's strong service-based ethos speaks well of its ability to ensure that teams will be an important part of its organizational structure but teamwork is not something that happens organically and naturally, no matter how forward-thinking or productive the company. Specific organizational philosophies and structures must be put into place to optimize the value of teams and to minimize the risks of group conflict.
Organizational context: Goals, rewards, information, training
Luke is an explicitly values-based organization. Its function is to provide healthcare services and other advisory and administrative services, primarily to private enterprises and the federal government. Given the service rather than product-focused nature of Luke, the orientation of the organization must first and foremost always be towards people, both customers and employees. Luke's ethos and caring attitude is one of its valuable resources that enables it to stand apart from its competitors and it must continue to cultivate this to its maximum ability, hence the need to stress and improve how team members interface with one another.
Rewards which organizations give employees can be both internal and external in nature. Of course, on some level, a basic, minimal level of external rewards are needed. As commensurate with Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory, basic needs such as financial security and the need for healthcare much be satisfied, which Luke does with competitive benefits packages. But beyond these physiological needs are social needs, and needs for self-actualization. "This five stage model can be divided into basic (or deficiency) needs (e.g. physiological, safety, love, and esteem) and growth needs (self-actualization)" (MacLeod 2014). Unless lower-order needs such as the physiological need for food (or a livable salary) are satisfied, workers will not be able to focus on higher-order needs. Luke must continue to attract highly qualified personnel to the organization. This does not mean simply offering a specific salary or type of perk (although this can certainly be useful and necessary as a strategy). Luke must invest in its employees in a meaningful fashion by soliciting their opinions and ensuring that their skill sets are well matched with organizational needs. Giving employees a satisfactory salary is important but only a first step.
Luke prioritizes its employees in its value statement, noting that "We value our employees and recognize the importance each brings to our success. We invest the time, resources and leadership in our employees to ensure consistent growth and stability. Satisfied employees are more productive, reliable and will become long-term Luke employees" ("Values," 2015). Having a specific organizational structure to nurture employee talent is essential such as mentorship opportunities of young employees by older employees and soliciting opinions from all workers on every level of the organizational hierarchy. For a service-based organization like Luke, quite often a participative style of management is extremely useful. Workers who directly interface with customers may have a better idea of what they need than upper level management, or at least possess insight that only workers on the ground can fully understand.
Positive interactions with workers are ideally generated by what Douglas MacGregor would likely call a Theory Y approach in the workplace. According to MacGregor, there are two basic ways managers can relate to employees. One is a Theory X approach in which transactional relationships are stressed between workers. In other words, managers promise workers certain specific rewards such as promotions and pay increases and workers are compliant. Theory X managers believe that without a system of carrots and sticks, workers are...
In contrast, Theory Y managers embrace "a participative style of management that is de-centralized. It assumes that employees are happy to work, are self-motivated and creative, and enjoy working with greater responsibility" ("Theory Y and Theory X," 2015). By encouraging workers to take more responsibility for their actions and to engage in problem solving, "people at lower levels of the organization are involved in decision making and have more responsibility" and ultimately the organization functions more effectively ("Theory Y and Theory X," 2015).
Group design and culture: Tasks, composition, norms
Given its size, Luke is an extremely diverse culture, requiring a wide variety of employee types to fulfill its various functions. When embarking upon group tasks, the traditional process of group formation is likely to occur, given that a new set of intergroup norms must be created to govern workplace relations. Bruce Tuckman's model of forming, storming, norming, and performing suggests that every group inevitably proceeds through a series of steps before feeling comfortable with one another and being able to work independently. The group culture must discourage in-fighting and encourage a focus on final results and tasks. During the forming stage, group members are only tentatively getting to know one another; during the storming stage, group members jockey for position; during the norming phase, effective rules and procedures are finally developed to enable the group to function; and only during the performing phase can the goals of the group be fully realized ("Forming, storming, norming, and performing," 2015). A performance-focused culture is essential to ensure that teams quickly reach the final phase of storming. The fact that Luke stresses the social values of its mission is helpful, given that this takes away from the emphasis on personal aggrandizement and instead places the emphasis on team effort. However, sometimes having a culture focused upon values is not enough; it can be also helpful to reward team rather than individualized efforts to encourage a truly altruistic approach on the part of the group's members.
Outside help: Coaching and consulting
Sometimes, having outsiders come to the organization to offer advice can be helpful. Although creativity and teamwork is often thought of as something which is innate and cannot be taught, in fact, introducing creative problem solving techniques can be extremely useful. Teams can learn to function more effectively. "According to the famous psychologist James Guilford, creative thinking occurs when a problem solver invents a novel solution to a problem" (Thompson 2003: 99). The ideal with teams is to create an atmosphere where creative solutions are generated in a functional and productive fashion. Team members can become more cognizant of their personal biases through self-assessments such as the Myers-Brigg and the DISC personality inventories; this can help them work together better as they learn to be more respectful and aware of the alternative work habits and worldviews of others. Work teams must also strive to learn from the proven, effective practices of other organizations, even ones which are structurally different than Luke, and to put these into action to ensure that the organization remains competitive, even in the face of a challenging and mutable outside environment. There are now "blurred lines between traditional notions of who's 'inside' and who's 'outside' the company allow teams to form new relationships with suppliers, complementary businesses, and shadow industries" (Thompson 2003: 96). Adopting some of the performance metrics and work styles of outsiders ultimately makes for a more functional, healthier organization.
Performance evaluation must be linked to encouraging effective group processes. Performance management entails that "properly constructed appraisals should represent a summary of an ongoing, year-round dialogue. Focusing only on an annual appraisal form leads to misunderstanding and under appreciation of the benefits of performance management" ("Importance of the performance review process," 2015). Appraisals should be given in a group context, not only in an individual context; also, the ways in which individuals function as team players should be a critical part of the appraisal process. There should be clear accountability and standards in terms of how individuals function in groups which will encourage group efforts to be taken seriously.
Effective team leadership requires effective people savvy: "All great leaders know exactly what buttons to push and when to push them. They are experts at activating the talent that surrounds them. They are equally as effective at matching unique areas of subject matter expertise and/or competencies to solve problems and seek new solutions" (Llopis 2012:1). Luke has the values and sense of mission to ensure that workers will be motivated to take an interest in their organization's future; now it must set performance review and participative incentives to ensure that group teams work as effectively as possible. Team work must be rewarded and become an essential component of moving forward within the organizational hierarchy for all employees.
Forming, storming, norming,…
) may typically be used in the conduction of the activity; and 3) Activities can be standardized and adapted with a minimum of alteration for use across groups and members so that a common framework can be replicated. (Trotzer, 2004) The main feature of activities are: 1) Technical; and 2) Mechanical and have "...parameters and directions that make them merely tools." (Trotzer, 2004) Categorization of the activities of a group are on the
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