Moreover, the strong correlation between confidence in peers and communication/problem understanding demonstrated that it is the confidence and ability of these co-workers that encourage members of self-managing teams to gather new information and knowledge, so that they may create useful decisions in relation to problem solving. Confidence in peers resulted in a negative, not positive, impact on organization and negotiation. This suggested that confidence in peers has a negative effect in the process of organizing the dissemination of knowledge in self-managing teams. Thus, it is imperative for team members to trust their peers and management and, in doing so, create and share new knowledge and further the organization's opportunity to offer best solutions to clients. Present research lacks the empirical evidence supporting the relationship between interpersonal trust and knowledge acquisition. Especially, academicians and practitioners are interested in studying whether "interpersonal trust" advances the follower's knowledge acquisition practices -- knowledge sharing and what the consequences are for performance in a self-managing environment. More studies need to be conducted on this in the future (Politis, 2003).
It is thus increasingly being realized that making the shift from a traditional hierarchical organization into a team structure is not simple and cut and dry. Proper planning, preparation and education are required to make empowered, self-directed work teams successful. Simkovits provides the case of a small, 75 employee low-tech manufacturer in New England, hypothetically called MANUFAC, which illustrates some of the challenges when self-managed work teams are developed without the perquisite pre-work, including the consideration of all the implications for everyone involved. The plant manager at MANUFAC, who had spent both a year learning about the concept of teams and several months working to get the organization's owners and production employees interested in this concept, led the effort. Over the course of several months, and with the best of intentions, MANUFAC switched from traditional production departments into separate product-oriented teams. Each one was made responsible for production functions for different product categories.
A year after team implementation, plant performance that was based on objective measures of productivity, efficiency and quality had somewhat improved. However, MANUFAC's plant was concerned by disagreements within and between the teams and the plant manager. There was very little inter-team communication and collaboration, which was essential for continued team learning. In addition, the original production supervisors, who were now team members, did little to assist other teams to accomplish their work.
The reason why these teams experienced problems lies in the lack of company preparation for self-directed teams. The plant manager of MANUFAC had done a good job in providing a great deal of information to the teams and positively encouraging them to learn from their mistakes. However, conflicts arose since the members of the teams did not yet have the capacity to sufficiently manage themselves. Being used to having others make their decisions for them, the teams were not proficient in either making their own group decisions or in resolving new production problems that were raised. Further, the supervisors were not trained as coaches, so they could help the teams through their difficulties. Frequently, they just stood by as the teams floundered. Trust also became an issue, because not all team members or management believed that self-directed teams could work. Some team members, and even the supervisors, actually undermined the team's work with the hope that the company's owners would revert to the previous hierarchical structure (Simkovits).
Simkovits concluded that five requirements need to be addressed while implementing self-directed teams: 1) Employees need to be made clear of the organization's mission and vision, and be able to identify their work in the context of that mission and vision; 2) teams must be adequately structured and staffed so that appropriate individuals are sharing the relevant work processes; 3) employees must be made clear of their unit's performance goals and objectives that become the basis for their daily work; 4) a system must exist for measuring and communicating team and whole unit performance so teams are able to keep track of and learn from past results and work to improve those results; and 5) the organization has to implement an appropriate team appraisal and reward system to evaluate and reinforce team performance.
However, it is not only the organizational structure and the way that these teams are implemented that lead to their success or failure. As with any new approach, some individuals will adapt more quickly and have more of the inclination and necessary personal skills required. Since self-directed teams are so very different from hierarchal work settings, the people who become team members require a new mindset. Regardless of how much training some people have or the support of the organization, it is easier for some individuals to change over to this new approach than others. It is also crucial the way that the individual team members work together.
According to Duimering and Robinson (2007), "relatively little is known about the group norms characterizing how the members of effective teams behave and interact with one another while doing their work." Having a better understanding of team behavior and norms necessitates paying close attention to the situational and work-related aspects of self-directed teams, but most research of team effectiveness has relied on cross-sectional survey methodology that delineate behavior in general terms but do not recognize the unique aspects of team task situations that impact member behavior.
The authors' (Duimering & Robinson, 2007) study examined the behavioral norms of an effective self-directed team in terms of its immediate organizational task situation. They closely investigated internal and external patterns of team member interrelations and behavior to determine how members visualize team performance to find those aspects of the task situation that could have affected team member behavior. This study focused on team results in the final assembly area, because factory supervisors and personnel described it as the factory's most efficient self-directed team. Positive team behaviors far exceeded negative ones. Further, the team demonstrated high autonomy, positive affect among members, team member identification, and cohesiveness -- all normally associated with team effectiveness.
Of greater interest, the study by Duimering and Robinson (2007) showed that helping among team members was an especially significant behavior that was regularly noticed. Although many other teams display behaviors such as autonomy, cohesiveness, strong member identification and positive affect among members, not all of them also demonstrate high task-related norms that encourage behavior that is in line with the organization's performance goals. It was concluded, therefore, that it was its strong, positive, task-related meta-norm of helping each other whenever needed that was the most essential behavioral attribute that clearly characterized the final assembly team's effectiveness.
A study by Frye, Bennett, and Caldwell (2006) researched the collective emotional intelligence (EI) of teams in regard to the their interpersonal process, a thoroughly accepted measure of team performance (Brannick and Prince 1997). EI is the capacity to reason about emotions to improve the thinking process. It consists of the abilities to correctly understand others' emotions, access and engender emotions to aid thought, accept emotional knowledge, and contemplatively control emotions to further emotional and intellectual capacity. More specifically in a sample of work teams, Frye, Bennett and Caldwell examined the connection between team averaged EI and two aspects of the team interpersonal process: team task orientation, or the focus on performance of the task, and team maintenance functions, or the focus on maintaining amiable group relations.
Brannick and Prince (1997) highlighted the importance of process measures of teamwork by noting."..team process measures may give us a truer picture of team function than do outcome measures...the interpersonal part of [team] process can be thought of as providing the grease that keeps the parts of the team working together smoothly." The Frye, Bennett, and Caldwell (2006) study focused on the two dimensions of EI, interpersonal and general mood, that capture the interpersonal dynamics and interactions taking place among self-directed team members. In the study, specific attention was paid to the quality of team interpersonal processes in addition to how the members set similar goals, handed out tasks, and functioned collaboratively toward achieving team goals. The research was motivated by two questions: Does the aggregated EI represented by team averaged EI predict team task orientation and team maintenance functions? Are specific composite scales of EI better predictors of team task orientation and team maintenance functions than others?
The authors (Frye, Bennett, and Caldwell, 2006) expected overall team averaged EI to be positively and significantly associated with team task orientation and team maintenance functions. In addition, they believed team averaged interpersonal EI and team averaged general mood EI would have stronger relationships with team task orientation and maintenance functions than overall team averaged EI, because the emphasis of items included in these two EI composite scales were specifically developed in order to measure the various aspects of personal interrelationships between team members.