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Working together

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Working together

II. Introduction

An historic example of team effort gone away. In that legendary story, a few key events transformed Camelot from a utopian kingdom into a wasteland. This isn't just idle meandering. There are corporate Camelots, too, suggests Steven Rayner (6) -- those companies that started with such promise and fell victim to problems in their teamwork concepts. It is clear to see that team-based systems simply don't work; better control equals better management. An emphasis on separating workers into specifically defined jobs, having centralized management control, and maintaining a structured chain of command contributes to a much better and more effective workplace situation (Rayner 15). There are, writes Steven Rayner in Team Traps, "literally hundreds of traps" that can "open a gateway to team disaster" (15). It makes more sense, therefore, to stick to the traditional structures in the workplace.term papers and term papers, did I tell about term papers on, term papers in , term papers about , term papers

II. Problem With A Group Approach term papers on and also term papers in and term papers about

ebfefOne of the major problems presented in the team work approach is that people are not accustomed to "group problem-solving" (Harrington-Mackin 137). It is a practice that not only hasn't been learned, but is a difficult one to institute. In school, children are taught to rely on their own resources; to develop their individual capabilities. Deborah Harrington-Mackin cites the example of a fourth grader, who wouldn't be allowed to say, "Hey, Joe, you?re good at word problems and I?m good at multiplication tables, so let's get together for this test" (137), yet the adult equivalent of this is seen in the workplace when teams are expected to come up with a group solution to a problem. This is an odd practice for most people, as well as the fact that trying to reach a consensus in a group of adults can frequently result in heated arguments, and no solution. Team decision-making can be frustrating. The team members have to take the time to listen to everyone's opinions -- a time-consuming process where the inclination is frequently to jump on the first answer given rather than go through the lengthy and frequently tedious process of hearing from everyone (Harrington-Mackin 138). term papers

qwrgIt seems that teams are being formed for every imaginable reason -- quality improvement teams, project teams, management teams, task force teams -- companies are quick to assume that increased employee involvement leads to improved productivity (Rees 7). But the problems that occur in trying to increase employee involvement outweigh the benefits. Many organizations that began traditionally are not accustomed to involving non-managerial employees in the procedures of planning, decision-making, and goal setting. These organizations have leaders who pass out information and answer questions, usually without requiring further involvement from subordinates.term papers

vqrgOrganizations have been "structured historically to reinforce authoritarian management styles" (Mosvick-Nelson 109). There is no easy way to facilitate a team-oriented decision making policy. The authoritarian organizational structure is still the type of management style most used in business (Mosvick-Nelson 109), and for a good reason. Many leaders don't know how to manage the participation of employees in these processes, even when a team is set up, and they frequently discourage participation (whether or not it's done intentionally) by their actions -- they may allow for minimal time for participation, interrupt people, or simply ignore what they hear. This is a good case for leaving the decision-making to the top leadership (Rees 10).term papers

III. "What are we supposed to do?"

vevevMany problems with teams result because there is no clear understanding about what is supposed to be accomplished. Team members and team leaders typically have problems defining their own roles, making it difficult to work toward results rather than busying themselves with the activities of the team (Fisher-Rayner-Belgard 6). It's far too easy to get caught up in day-to-day activities, in being a team, and forget the reason the team was formed in the first place. This lack of focus is a good reason to keep employees working on their own, in specific, well-defined jobs. Teams tend to become too inwardly-focused -- a sure sign they won't survive. term papers

Sometimes the manager of the team will discount not what his own team is trying to accomplish, but the efforts of others. A manager may insist that the success of other teams was nothing more than a "fluke" (Rayner 9), or they suggest any success was due to highly unique circumstances. This naturally leads to a lack of credibility, and suggests that employee involvement is irrelevant, yet it is an occurrence that's all too common. term papers

rfrgThe relationship between team leader and team members is often adversarial. When the team is first formed, it relies on the manager to transfer decision-making and problem-solving authority to the team members. But eventually, the team members rebel against the authority figure, which often results in a confusion over responsibilities and the roles each member is to take. It's not unusual for the team members to try to take on all managerial responsibilities and even question the value of the manager's role -- the team is ostensibly working effectively; why does it need a manager? The tendency for team members to rebel or resist the influence of the designated team leader is a situation that seems to occur in every newly-formed team operation (Rayner 133).term papers

IV. Working Together Isn't So Easy

veqgIn his book, Style of Management and Leadership, Manfred Davidmann reminds us that business experts have to work together to achieve their goals, and discord in one area can inconvenience many people (1). It is essential, therefore, that people cooperate with each other -- but this doesn't necessarily imply working on a team. Experience has shown that the larger the organization is the more difficult it is to achieve the necessary degree of cooperation. Larger organizations are usually much less effective using a ream approach, as people tend to work against each other rather than with each other (Davidmann 1). term papers

vqrvCooperation is essential to any team effort, and it's not something that can be easily achieved. Frustration with management, or the workplace itself, causes internal conflict and struggle, which in turn means there is considerable lack of identification with the organization and its objectives. Davidmann relates the analogy of coming up against a brick wall. Team members may be trying to achieve something which is difficult, and it seems they don't get anywhere because they "keep on knocking ... against this brick wall which stops us" (1). It may be the system or the organization; it may be the team leader or the way the team members relate to each other. In that kind of situation, one finds the "wall" is very solid, very high, extends almost indefinitely on either side and its foundations are deep and strong. In other words, the team can't get through it; can't find any way to get around the problem, and can't seem to stop "knocking their heads against the wall" (Davidmann 1). This type of situation, one which occurs all too frequently, is also one which destroys teamwork. term papers

Gerard M Blair says that there are certain frameworks within which teams attempt to work. It's the inability to function within these ?frames? that is another disadvantage to teamwork. The "Forming stage" (1) is when the team first comes together. Everyone is considerate and civil, and allows for everyone to participate. Discussion is slow and guarded since no one wishes to be seen as foolish by saying something on which the other may not agree. And underneath all this, there may be conflict. Even though it is not verbalized, it's always destructive. term papers

rvrgNext comes the "Storming stage" (Blair 1)-- people take up sides, and views and ideas are "entrenched" (1). The effectiveness of the team takes a nose dive, and the productiveness of the team is far less than the individuals could have achieved had they not been brought together. This report was written by The Paper Store, Inc. term papers

rgerThe "Norming stage" (Blair 1) is next, in which the team works out methods of compromise, although this often is a moot point. Teams are not always willing to move beyond the first two stages. Once again, human nature is a strong deterrent in the ability of teams to function effectively. There are simply too many people with too many different ideas, and it's not to be assumed that they will be able to resolve their differences. term papers

VI. Barriers for Management Teams

vergrManagement teams are not immune to problems. Not everyone feels that team-based management is the solution for ailing organizations. A team leader from American President Cos. says, "A team is like having a baby tiger given to you at Christmas. It does a wonderful job of keeping the mice away for about 12 months, and then it starts to eat your kids" (Labich 1). term papers

qergOne of the major reasons why management teams don't work comes down to human nature. Harshman and Philips write of "motivational barriers" (148), where people in the organization fear loss of power, and "leadership barriers" (151), where a resistance to leadership leads the all the employees to believe that the team approach is unnecessary. Kenneth Labich suggests that team leaders "revert to form and claim the sandbox for themselves, refusing to share authority with the other kids" (1). Everyone else on the team tends to argue among themselves, bickering about such things as who gets credit for what the team produces. The team falls apart under the pressure and strain -- the tiger eats the kids. This is one of the major disadvantages to effective team work.term papers

rgfwLeadership barriers can stop the entire team process, which ultimately gives the entire workplace the message that the issues the team was trying to resolve were not to be taken seriously. Many top level managers are goal-driven, results-oriented, and have little patience with any long-term process that needs to be effected by a team. The combination of leaders? impatience and their possibly different perspectives on the objectives of the organization and the team make it very difficult for a team to function effectively (Harshman-Philips 151).term papers

It's also difficult, suggests Harshman and Philips, for middle management to work in a team. They typically are caught between the top management who controls the organization, and the employees who actually get the work done. Their "power" in the day-to-day workings of an organization is somewhat shaky, and they don't generally adapt well to any suggestion of rechanneling that power. This is a major disadvantage to setting up a team (152).term papers

VII. Team Barriers

_ Team members themselves are faced with certain barriers, even if the leaders can resolve their own problems. Teams tend to avoid responsibility for a variety of reasons and in different ways. Deborah Harrington-Mackin (11) lists the barriers that typically affect the team members:

_ Lack of skill or competency to perform the task at handterm papers

_ Lack of self-confidence term papers

_ Fear of failure, ridicule and criticismterm papers

_ Fear of being singled out and exposed as incompetentterm papers

_ Fear of losing approval term papers

_ Lack of self-control term papers

_ Fear of being put in charge term papers

_ Fear of taking responsibility for success or failure term papers

_ Fear of change; of the unknown term papers

_ Lack of organizational skills term papers

_ Fear of being held accountable for mistakes term papers

_ Fear of the change that success causes in work relationships term papers

In addition, there are external barriers which are disadvantageous to the team, which may include:

_ Having too many tasks to do within a certain time frame term papers

_ Experiencing too many changes at the same time term papers

_ Having too few people to do the jobs term papers

_ Coping with untrustworthy management term papers

_ Coping with inconsistencies in management term papers

_ Lacking the necessary resources or information to do the job term papers

rwrgIt would seem that there are too many negative aspects to functioning as a team. Teams tend to make excuses to avoid responsibility -- anything from "We don't have the right equipment" to "It's too late to start now" to "We have other problems we need to tackle first" (Deborah Harrington-Mackin 12). If a team doesn't want to cooperate and work together, no amount of suggested solutions can force the members to come up with results. Harrington-Mackin relates that the best excuse she has heard for a team's failure to perform was that the team was initially "too large to accomplish anything" (12). To accommodate this team in an attempt to help it work together effectively, it was divided into smaller subgroups, which then, predictably, declared they were too small to be of any use. term papers

VIII. Team Myopia

grjjSteven Rayner recognizes that some teams can become very near-sighted; that is, they can't see past their own noses. There is a natural tendency for teams to become inclusive of their own members, and "somewhat paranoid" of ...

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