Team work & Job design: Teams automatically perform at high levels. Introduction Job design is the process of deciding which tasks and responsibilities will be undertaken by a particular employee. It also covers the methods, systems and procedures for the work. In today’s business environment, proper job design can help a company to become more successful and competitive in the market. “The theory of job design, as we know it today, rests largely on the premise that effective performance and genuine satisfaction in work follow mainly from the intrinsic content of the job”(Cooper, 1974,p. 2) The team approach has the ability to fulfill these criteria. “Teamwork is described as a co-operative process that allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results” (Scarnati, 2001, p. 5). “By sharing a common goal or vision, the team can accomplish what individuals cannot do alone” (Scarnati, 2001, p. 6). As teams attempt to accomplish a number of tasks and functions, some of the tasks may not fall into any of the individual’s present job scopes. In an ideal situation, teamwork can combine the intelligence, experience, knowledge, skills and commitments of the team members into a more powerful drive.
Depending on the task, technology involved, the organization’s structure and how the team is formed in regard to authority, communication, attitudes, behaviors and expectations of people involved, a team can be ineffective for both the individual employees and the organization. This essay will investigate the causes and effects of teams that do not perform at high level automatically, and discuss the possibility of developing a more effective team. Factor: To be a high performance team
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Although teams are not suitable for every business situation, this essay will outline the key factors required to form a team that performs at high level automatically, which will strengthen an organization in its competitive business environment. Enhance productivity One reason why teams may perform automatically at a high level is that if members are well-matched. Their strengths enhance their motivation, accuracy and productivity. “The structure of work group or team provides many of the factors that are central to the motivation of individuals” (Sinclair,1992, p. 620).
When each member is allowed to contribute his or her own blend of conviction, beliefs, experience and strengths, the total outcomes are positive and beneficial to all involved. Just imagine if one person in the team is very creative. This would lead the process of coming up with ideas; another one is detailed-oriented who can do the initial research. The third person, who is good at graphic software, can pull all those skills together to end up with a much better result than an individual’s performance. As people work in a team, they allow the combining their skills and talents with others to create new approaches to solving problems.
As a result, the work performance through teams will lead to higher productivity level than an individual’s hard work. One example of this is how Kodak uses team work to make work more productive. In 1990’s, a cross-functional team became a part of Chrysler’s new auto design team. This team consisted of marketing, design, engineering and manufacturing personnel. With the creation of this new team, Chrysler was able to cut more than a year from design-to-manufacture time, yet produced what outside experts rate as the highest quality vehicle Chrysler has produced (Sashkin, 1994, p. 0). The example shows that a diverse team is more efficient if team members can contribute their strengthens and work well together. Upgrade Job Skill In addition to making a team more productive, improved individual knowledge and skill may generate high team performance levels automatically. “Utilising a team approach can enlarge and enrich the information, knowledge and power an individual possesses. Many groups are brought together with the assumption that each individual has some information that the others and the group will need. (Zaleznik & Moment, 1964) For a common objective or task, individual team members can learn from other’s experience to extend their knowledge and make up their shortcomings. Based on the broader knowledge, their performance in the team could be developed which may give them more opportunities to expand their job scope horizontally or vertically. The job scope may expand horizontally by teaching some skills to someone. Job scope could be expanded vertically by becoming a leader in a team. To help a team reach a target successfully, a supervisor or leader is required in a team.
A team leader may be appointed to guide the team activities, or the team members may have the opportunity to appoint a leader from the team. The appointed leader will have the chance to develop and utilize leadership skills, though, the appointed leader must try to see that “the group process is effective and that the work is, in fact getting done” (Lawler, 1986, p. 105). Therefore, high performance levels may be automatically achieved in a team if individuals advance their skills and knowledge. Without the team, individuals might be limited by the scope of their skill, knowledge and experience. High quality decision-making
Better quality decision-making could be considered as a way to lead a team to perform at higher levels. “As more ideas are produced and alternatives are considered, the team gets closer to making decisions that are stronger” (De Janasz, et al. , p. 311). There are many people to contribute to the discussion, meaning more ideas. Consequently a decision could be made more accurate, and such a decision would generally be of better quality. The more decisions a team can make for the method/procedure while completing the task, the more the team will feel responsible for achieving success in something they “own”. Because it is then the property of team, the quality of the output may increase, as it is a direct reflection of the team and its members “(Lawler, 1992). This situation is very often to seen, once the team’s decision is accepted by supervisors, the team members will automatically show their better performance and try to achieve higher levels of success. In short, outcomes will have better quality (generated through teamwork), if each member is willing to participate in the decision-making. Workforce diversity Another factor that might help teams to perform at high level is workforce diversity. There is evidence that a diverse workforce has better-quality solutions on brainstorming tasks, display more cooperative behaviour, relative to homogenous groups, and can raise organizational efficiency, effectiveness and profitability” (McLeod, Lobel and Cox, 1996; Wilson and Iles 1999). When you have a diversity of team members, a different dynamic occurs. There is a greater chance of creativity, perspective, talents and innovation coming out. The author assumes that the potential advantage of forming a group of individuals with varied backgrounds has a diverse bent is likely to be highly successful than individuals work alone.
If you keep on doing what you always did then you will keep on getting what you always got. No organization wants to be caught up in this trap. More importantly, innovation is the key for an organisation to stand in the market. In this case, the author assumes that the potential advantage of forming a diverse team is that it is more likely to be highly successful than individuals working alone. Reason: teamwork does not happen automatically In most cases, teamwork is beneficial to business operation and problem solving. However, it cannot be said that teamwork happens perfectly and automatically.
There are several factors that can cause a team to have lower performance levels. Loss of self-motivation Lack of self-motivation could be a major factor that prevents a team from performing at high levels automatically. The author believes that individual self-motivation is an essential requirement for high productivity, efficiency and quality organizational output. On the contrary, when a team member’s suggestion is rejected, he or she might think “they do not need my contribution, so I will not come up with new ideas any more. ” Consequently, the individual’s motivation will be reduced and conflicts may arise.
Since individual self-motivation and responsibility are reduced, he or she will not be able to share more information or even put more effort into the common task. For example, I used to work in a company that just started running a new system, as a team leader I had lots of experience in this system. I discovered the potential problems in running the new system, but when I put forward my suggestions to the manager, the ideas were rejected. After that, I did not give them any suggestions any more. As my self-motivation was destroyed, I left that job after 6 months.
In this case, it is easier to discover that when individual needs and responsibilities are reduced, people will not be able to put in the same effort for the common task; the team can be affected by showing worse and worse performance. Lack of time control Another reason that a team can not perform automatically at high level is that people have different levels of time management skill. This means individual time management skill will not match automatically when they come together as a team. There is an old saying in business world, time is money.
When there is a fire, it takes a longer time to find the cause of the fire when a whole team of firemen are assigned this task. It will be faster and more efficient to use one expert fire investigator. For instance, there is an urgent task which has to be done in a specific time. The team leader has to explain to the team members first, then announces the goal and deadline, and next, asks for solutions, followed by discussion of the solutions. In the end, an agreement is reached and action is taken. If any procedure takes a longer time, then the total task will not be completed on time.
Or, people may waste a lot of time on disputes and lose sight of the deadline. If the task is only required to be fulfilled by an individual, then the time for announcement, discussion will be skipped. Plus, individuals can make decisions quicker than teams, especially if output from someone is not necessary to reach the objective. Therefore, lack of time management skill could be considered one of the major causes of a team cannot perform effectively automatically. Inappropriate use of the team approach Some jobs are not designed for teamwork.
This is especially true for some individuals that have the expert knowledge necessary to be used in certain tasks. These jobs require independent work, without the existence of team dynamics. “One may be pressurized to adhere to lower production norms than they would like to avoid being ostracized” (Hick & Gullett, 1985). They may not have the desire to put effort and time into achieving team goals, or they might have different perceptions of the work-pace and how the goal should be accomplished. Sometimes people may feel pressured to agree with team processes and decisions, that they do not agree with. In addition, not all individuals in the work force value intrinsic rewards and a sense of achievement. Neither do some value the prospect a team provides of learning and broadening skills” (Lawler, 1992). This normally happens in unskilled workers that do not expect self-fulfillment and growth. “Contrary to the view that routinzed and repetitive jobs lead to boredom and job dissatisfaction, some workers find them suitable or even desirable” (Chung & Ross, 1977,p. 119) To force these unskilled workers to participate in a team can put pressure on individual work together with other team members in planning or problem solving.
It will easily create stress for them and cause conflicts within the team. Conflicts lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings which will have a negative effect on performance. Therefore, teams will not be performing at high level if the job does not need teamwork. Social Loafing Lack of responsibility could be one of the biggest destroyers for a high performance team. The definition of social loafing from BusinessDictionary. com shows: Tendency of certain members of a group to get by with less effort than what they would have put when working alone.
Since the focus of productivity shifts from the individual to the group, it is difficult to detect individual’s output for the group project or task. Some employees sometimes feel dragged down by poor or lazy team members and may find themselves doing a tremendous amount of work to compensate for weaker colleagues. In this “no winner no loser” situation, if no one takes responsibility for their own job or even doesn’t know what should be done, then the project will be delayed and teamwork performance will be affected by those “social loafer”.
For instance, there was a product which our company needed to be delivered by the next working day in another city for a trade show, but the goods were not allocated to a specific person. As a result, everyone thought someone else would do it, but actually nobody delivered the item. The result is obvious that we complained about the delivery service and stopped using their delivery service after that. The example shows the common problems in teamwork and hence lack of responsibility is an issue in team work, which will affect team performance, and customer satisfaction. Discussion
In most cases, high levels of team performance will not be achieved automatically. It depends largely on the motives and intentions of the individuals within the team. The author has identified that the major factors that lead to team ineffectiveness are: communication breakdowns leading to loss of confidence and decreased productivity, wasted resources and effort, ill-will/bad feelings/decreased in morale, failing to fix problems and improve processes, loss of focus on customers and profits, increased workplace conflict, increased job-related stress/workplace tension and setting s a poor example for the work force.
However, “it’s important to realize that the development of effective working relationships among staff is a gradual process which requires considerable time and skill, this is not meant to discourage team members, but to help them realize that teams aren’t created overnight” (Francis, 1979 p. 261). A certain amount of frustration and conflict is normal. From study and researching, the author thinks orgiansations can improve team performance from these aspects. First of all, set a clear goal for the team assignment, which will be accepted and understood by all members. Clear goal will keep team focused, thus avoiding the divisive potential of political issues and individual agendas”(Larson & etc. 1989). When individuals fully understand their responsibility in achieving the same end, a tremendous synergy will be created. Secondly, take advantage of effective communication that also will contribute to a high-performance team. “Many times, decisions take a long time to be reached due to communication bottlenecks, but in a team where communication is rapid and prompt, any delay that may arise is minimized” (Rees, 2001, p. 15).
When team members communicate with one another by using words or actions, team members come closer together and resolve any misunderstanding in the group. Next, rewarding or punishing team members based on team performance can be a strategy to motivate teams to perform at a high level. “Rewards and punishments send a powerful message to organisational members. ” (Robbins & Barnwell, 2006, p. 417) In this way, the individual will pay more attention to their performance and value in the team. Last but not least, team size also affects team performance, on Daglow’s law of team Dynamics “Small teams are informed.
Big teams infer” smaller teams demonstrated to have better team-work (Ziller, 1957 p. 165-173; Steiner, 1966 p. 273-283). Team size is an important determinant of the social loafing phenomenon, whereby individuals decrease their effort as the number of people in the group increases. Team size must be determined with respect to both staffing requirements, derived from the size of the project task and teamwork requirements, derived from task complexity and uncertainty (Hoegl et al. , 2003 p. 281-302). In conclusion, better team performance is reachable. The way we put people and jobs together and define their roles and relationships is an important determinant in whether an organization is successful. ” (Robbins & Barnwell, 2006, p. 73) “The acceptance and success of a team approach is high dependent on abilities, attitudes, motivations, and social and physical environments required or designed by the individual’s concerned”(Dawson, 1996). Future studies should focus on the ways teams change over time. Job design will become more and more important in the workplace for enhancing the motivation of the employees, which gives rise to high productivity and efficiency.
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