People Working Teams Achieve Goals Efficiently Effectively Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

People working teams achieve goals efficiently effectively people working '. Draw theories team design effectiveness give practical examples relating organisational/work University study experience discuss statement

Efficiency of team projects over individually handled projects

The current research project t is focused on the discussion of the following statement:

People working in teams always achieve their goals more efficiently and effectively than people working alone.

In order to address it, a twofold approach is implemented -- the review of the specialized literature and the analysis of the practical implications within a real life context -- the working teams at Wal-Mart. It is eventually concluded that the teams are indeed more efficient than individuals, but that the development and management of a team is a matter to be decided upon based on the unique particularities of every business situation.

Table of contents




2. Key issues / findings from the literature


3. Practical implications


4. Conclusions



1. Introduction

The modern day society is more challenging and more dynamic, forcing as such individuals to adapt alongside. Among these challenges which force change are the well-known advent of the technology, the incremental pressures at the work place, the amounting stress levels, the intensifying competition and so on. One specific means in which the individuals of the contemporaneous society strive to increase the efficiency of their actions is that of becoming organized in groups.

Working in the format of a group reveals a wide array of features, some with positive connotations, whereas others with negative connotations. At the level of the benefits of groups, one could pin point to an increased access to intellectual capital or the effective collaboration and multitasking within the group. At the level of the limitations of working groups, one could mention the higher possibility of conflicts of ideas or even personal conflicts or the challenges to implementing an idea and direction when more people are involved.

But in spite of the limitations of groups, fact remains that the people who become organized in teams stand more chances of attaining their goals than the people who work individually. In essence, it is assumed that the people working in teams achieve their goals more efficiently and more effectively than people who work alone. It will be the scope of this report to assess this assumption through two sets of lenses -- the theoretical ones and the practical ones.

2. Key issues / findings from the literature

The specialized literature has often discussed the effectiveness of teams and their ability to attain goals at superior levels comparative to individually handled processes. And while the opinions on specific issues might vary, and the approaches of various authors and researchers might also differ, the general conclusion is that teams do indeed reveal superior results when compared to individual projects. "The evidence of a vast array of research concerning teamwork is conclusive: teams are capable of outstanding performance and are the primary unit of performance for increasing numbers of organizations" (Bamber, Sharp and Belohoubek, 2001).

Vanessa Urch Druskat and Anthony T. Pescosolido (2002) agree with the majority of the theories supporting the superiority of team work. Specifically, these theories state that teams operate in an efficient manner because they capitalize on the diverse intellectual skills and capabilities of the team members. Druskat and Pescosolido however take their research one step ahead and assess the role of the organization in the success of teams, especially self-managed working teams.

They find that these teams are efficient and effective when the organization supports them in terms of development, self-management, responsibility, resources and so on. As the support of the organization for team development decreases, the efficiency and effectiveness of the teams also decrease. Daniel J. Alberts (2007) points out that team efficiency is pegged to the ability of the organization to stimulate communications and the framework for the teams.

A similar conclusion is reached by Geert Van Hootegem, Rik Huys and Anne Delarue (2004). The three authors based their research within the automobile industry, namely Ford and Volvo, and found that teams -- and subsequently team efficiency and team effectiveness -- are sensitive to changes at organizational levels.

Aside from organizational features, Robert Duimering and Robert Robinson at the University of Waterloo argued that team efficiency and effectiveness is also pegged to the internal features of the constructed team. In other words, the two professors note that while this efficiency might exist in relationship to individually handled tasks and projects, it is sensitive to internal team features. The most important of these features are represented by the willingness and ability of the team members to help each other, the flexibility of the team and the tasks, the low levels of dependence between tasks or the lack of formal standards.

Thomas Capozzoli (2006) looks at the efficiency of teams and concludes that this is due to the fact that the teams are able to complete both the professional tasks, but they can also self-manage themselves. This in turn generates efficiencies at an administrative level as managerial functions are completed by the team members, but also cost efficiencies as the need to hire different administrative staff is limited. Capozzoli argues that the efficiency and effectiveness of teams can be improved through the following:

A strong vision of how the teams are integrated within the overall organization

A well developed leadership scheme

An organizational culture which integrates and promotes the teams

The allocation of sufficient resources to support the administration and operation of the teams

The adequate training of the staff members in order to enhance both their technical skills as well as their ability to function as part of the team. At this level, it is essential to "train the group as an intact team" (Getting Results…for the Hands-On Manager, 1995)

The creation of the context in which the teams can form, develop and solidify

The creation of realistic performance expectations and the communication of the expectations to the team members

The offering of constructive feedback

The setting of boundaries

The need to recognize and address the management and administration necessities of the team (Capozzoli, 2006). At this level, it has to be noted that the manager has to act as the builder of the team (Armstrong, 2008).

Despite the fact that teams can be more efficient than individuals, it has to be noted that teams are in fact formed from individuals and that the final efficiency of the team also depends on the personal features of the team members. M.O. Connor (2006) finds that the efficiency of the team is subjected to extrinsic and intrinsic values. "Extrinsic factors included collective efficacy, social rewards and sanctions, social dilemmas, social loafing, future interdependence, and social identity. Intrinsic factors included individual identity, desire to achieve, member role differences, team size, individual status attainment, and member commitment" (Connor, 2006). Yeatts, Hyten and Barnes (1996) found that four elements were directly responsible for team efficiency and effectiveness, namely: the environment within the team, the design of the team, the teaming processes and the work processes within the team.

3. Practical implications

The specialized literature is filled with studies of teams, self-managed teams and efficiency of working in teams. While the general conclusion is that working in teams is often more prone to success than assigning individual teams, the actual implementation of the practice of team work is subjected to numerous practical concerns. Specifically, these concerns differ based on the situations in which the teams are created and observed. In this order of ideas, it becomes obvious that the findings in the specialized literature are not expected to materialize within all real life situations, as all real life contexts are subjected to particularities. This in turn means that the management of the teams has to differ based on the specifics of each and every situation.

At the current level, in order to best reveal the practical implications of teams, it is necessary to assess them through the lenses of a real life situation -- the experience of working at Wal-Mart. The number one American retailer is often blamed for making numerous compromises in exchange for the lowest price. And these compromises have also been made at the level of the staff members, who are insufficiently trained, motivated and rewarded. This leads to a situation in which the employees perform their minimally required tasks and do this in order to get the paycheck. Teams are formed at Wal-Mart, but their efficiency is questionable. The lines below reveal some of the problems encountered by the teams at the retailing facility:

The team members are not united by an overall culture focused on customer satisfaction

The team members are not trained to accept each other as valuable assets with intellectual capital which can help the company attain its objectives

Diversity is not embraced at the firm and it has even been reported that the company discriminated against the minorities. These accusations were formulated generally by the African-Americans and the women who declared…

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