Creating and Managing Effective Teams
My choices for the cross-functional task force, which did not merit a full endorsement from Sarah, were Harvey, Amrita, John, Janice, and Marcell. Sarah considered Amrita, John, Janice, and Marcell to be good choices but was not convinced that including Harvey in the task force was a good idea. Instead of Harvey, her fifth choice was Petra. In spite of our differences of opinion, however, Sarah allowed me to go ahead, wishing me luck in the critical task ahead (Creating and Managing Effective Teams, n. d. ).
Sarah agreed with me when I decided to appoint Amrita to be the team’s Creator and approved my choice of Janice for the role of Promoter + Maintainer. What made me pick Amrita was her talent in design. She was a well-known designer in Europe and Asia, having led teams which came out with best-selling designs in both continents. No other candidate possessed better qualifications. Janice, meanwhile, was chosen for the role of Promoter + Maintainer because of her 12-year executive experience in public relations – previously with Mercedes-Benz and currently at Luxurion Auto. Besides, Janice is acting as a liaison for Washington, D.
C. of the “local chapter of an established political action committee,”
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However, I decided to include Harvey and gave him the role of Assessor + Advisor because of his 15-year experience in auto design, manufacturing, sales, and production. He was likewise described as a jack of all trades, making him, in my opinion, an ideal Assessor + Advisor. Meanwhile, I opted for John as Controller + Organizer because he was described as somewhat set in his ways with 15 years of experience in managing automotive development and manufacturing. Finally, I selected Marcell to play the role of Linker + Producer because of his experience as a project manager for the past five years.
He was a project manager with Ford’s Jaguar Finance Department and now with the finance department of Luxurion Auto (Creating and Managing Effective Teams, n. d. ). Managing the team proved a daunting task. However, I took into consideration their individual talents, skills, and characteristics which I believed would complement each other. I purposefully put together as varied a team as possible because I was convinced that their diverse characteristics, talents, and skills would ultimately interact with one another in a positive way and produce the collaborative effort necessary to accomplish the task assigned to the team.
I took comfort in the knowledge that “A work team generates positive synergy through coordinated effort. Their individual efforts results in a level of performance that is greater than the sum of those individual inputs” (Robbins, 2005, ch. 9, p. 273). Because of this, my enthusiasm was not very much affected by the fact that my choices did not match Sarah’s one hundred percent. Since this is a cross-functional team, my next concern was that it would be a bit difficult to manage at first because of two reasons.
First, they belong to approximately the same level of hierarchy. In other words, no one among them could claim seniority over the rest of the group. A situation such as this would be ripe for a working atmosphere which when left on its own; could turn rather chaotic because everyone would be trying to impose his or her own will. This is a very strong possibility despite the fact that they have different roles or job titles. Second, they have different personal and professional backgrounds, work experiences, and perspectives.
Again, this means that the team would need some time for the members to come together, see eye to eye, and settle down to productive work. However, given enough time, I hope to build trust and achieve teamwork through a free exchange of information, the process of idea development, and group problem-solving sessions. Besides, diversity has been found to benefit work teams. In fact it “promotes conflict, which stimulates creativity, which leads to improved decision-making” (p. 281). In other words, this team has everything in its favor.
All I have to do was coordinate and be optimistic about the whole thing. To quote Robbins (2005) once again, “studies have found that leaders who exhibit a positive mood get better team performance” (p. 279). The first opportunity I had of achieving team efficacy was during the first meeting of the task force. That first meeting allowed me to define the group objectives and outline the work schedules based on the approximate time frame allotted to the project. That first meeting also gave me the opportunity to spell out their individual duties and responsibilities.
I also explained to the group how I expected their individual duties and responsibilities to contribute positively to the group effort. Finally, I was able to establish ground rules that would not only allow me to direct the actual work processes but also to address the conflicts that would possibly arise. This is because the composition of a cross-functional team inevitably lends itself to the possibility of conflicts arising at anytime among its members (Creating and Managing Effective Teams, n. d. ). A second opportunity presented itself when a conflict occurred between Harvey (as Assessor + Adviser) and the rest of the team.
His frequent absence as a result of his being invited to auto expos and races – a legitimate function as far as his position in the company is concerned – annoyed the rest of the team. They felt that he had not been giving his share of time and effort and might as well be replaced by someone who could. The issue was already hurting the group effort. To resolve the conflict, I discussed the problem with the other team members and explored every available possibility. Finally, a group decision was reached. It was arranged for Harvey to be “virtually present” during team meetings.
This was possible through a technology called “web conferencing” which allowed Harvey to attend the meetings via the internet. Because of this technology, the succeeding meetings saw a hundred percent attendance, including Harvey who was physically away during some of them. In other words, when Harvey was out attending expos and participating in races, the team would be converted into a “virtual team” which, according to Robbins (2005), is as good as any other team in sharing information, making decisions, and completing tasks (p. 276). The second conflict was between Amrita and the team.
The other members claimed that she had been pushing for the adoption of her personal designs. The rest of the team members felt that Amrita’s attitude, despite her being the Creator of the team, stifled its capability of generating good designs. They demanded that all designs should be submitted to objective deliberation before the team, as a whole, makes the decision. To resolve the conflict, I talked to the team members individually and as a group in the absence of Amrita and asked them to recognize Amrita’s willingness to let the team use her own personal designs.
However, I also talked to Amrita and told her that although it was really nice of her to offer her own designs she should also allow the group dynamics to work in order to generate broader-based designs with multiple inputs from the rest of the members of the team (Creating and Managing Effective Teams, n. d. ). My team suffered some setbacks midway through the project when the members started suffering from the negative effects of groupthink and started discarding promising designs.
To remedy the situation and rejuvenate the team, I decided to let one member play the role of a devil’s advocate, carefully explaining that the devil’s advocate approach is not meant to discredit the designs already generated by the group. Instead, the practice is meant to remind the members that their primary responsibility lies in exploring all possible avenues of generating new and exciting designs, not to easily let go and decide on what’s easily available. The devil’s advocate succeeded in getting the members of the team back on track and started new and lively discussions. (Creating and Managing Effective Teams, n.
d. ). When I decided to run the simulation again, I tried to see the reasons why Sarah’s selection slightly differed from mine concerning three people and three roles. As I have already stated earlier, four people in my list (John, Amrita, Marcell, and Janice) were also in Sarah’s list although only two of them were for the same roles. For instance, we agreed that Janice was suited to play the role of Promoter + Maintainer and Amrita was the best candidate for the role of Creator of the team. However, whereas I picked Harvey to play the role of Assessor + Adviser, Sarah chose John for the role.
I suspected that what made Sarah chose John to be the Assessor + Advisor was probably his 15 years experience as a manager in automotive development and manufacturing, while I gave more weight to Harvey’s 15 years experience in design, manufacturing, sales, and production, as well as his being a jack of all trades (Creating and Managing Effective Teams, n. d. ). I selected Marcell for the role of Linker + producer while Sarah decided on Petra as the best choice for the role. (Petra was in my original list but I dropped her in favor of Harvey).
Apparently, Sarah gave premium to Petra’s experience as a classroom educator and her excellent verbal communications skills which enables her to “relay complex information in an understandable manner. ” This particular skill might have prompted Sarah to prefer Petra for the role of Linker + Producer. Finally, while I thought that John would be best for the role of Controller + Organizer, Sarah decided that Marcell would be a better choice. I believed that Marcell got Sarah’s nod for the post of Controller + Organizer over John, who was my choice, was his “excellent project management skills.
” For my part, I considered John for this role because of his qualifications (Creating and Managing Effective Team Simulation) Adequate resources proved valuable to the project. I was able to facilitate the participation of Harvey in spite of the fact that he was always away on auto expos and races because of the availability of web conferencing technology. Web conferencing enabled the team to carry on with its discussions normally, as if Harvey was actually with them despite the physical distance that often separated him from the rest of the team.
The individual abilities, talents, and skills of the members of the team, on the other hand, had been responsible for the excellent performance of the team as a whole. Their distinctive skills in the areas of design, management, manufacturing, public relations, and communication, made the team a well-rounded one. For instance, Amrita was very good in design; with her experience from her stint in Asia and Europe. John was adept in manufacturing owing to his 15 years of manufacturing experience.
Janice was invaluable in the area of public relations not only because of her experience but also because of her organizational affiliation. In management, Marcell was a valuable contributor after acquiring the needed experience and expertise, having served as a project manager for five years. Finally, Harvey, with his 15-year experience in auto design, manufacturing, and production, also provided invaluable contributions in the areas of management and manufacturing (Creating and Managing Effective Teams, n. d. ). As a result, the group interaction and dynamics had been rather lively and productive.
Autonomy also proved valuable in the group’s function because it afforded the team members with the necessary freedom to explore all avenues and come up with its independently-produced design. Although Amrita attempted to impose her will at first, she was later prevailed upon to allow the other members of the team to give their own inputs. Finally, a common purpose – that of designing a revolutionary model that would give an edge to the company against its competitors in the industry – provided every team member with the motivation to put his or her best foot forward, thereby contributing significantly to the team effort.
After all, an effective team should consist of “members committed to a common purpose, specific team goals, members who believe in the team’s capabilities, a manageable level of conflict, and a minimal degree of social loafing” (Robbins, 2005, ch. 9, p. 289).
Creating and Managing Effective Teams. (n. d. ). Accessed April 19, 2008 at http://corptrain. phoenix. edu/axia/mgt345/launch02. html Robbins, S. P. (2005). Organizational behavior (11th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.