WORK TEAMS:APPLICATIONS AND EFFECTIVENESS:SUNDSTROM:

Matthew Sigafoose

 

How would you define a work team?

 

Interdependent collections of individuals who share responsibility for specific outcomes for their organizations.

 

Two events led to the spreading of the concept of work teams past the sport and military setting:

 

  1. Hawthorne studies
  2. European experiments with autonomous work groups

 

Pasmore and colleagues reported that the intervention of autonomous work groups was the most common intervention in 134 experiments in manufacturing firms.What is autonomy and why would an organization want their groups to possess it?

 

APPLICATIONS OF WORK TEAMS:

 

Production teams were broken down into four categories.What were they?

 

Advice and involvement, production and service, projects, and development

 

Why is it important to have work teams involved in advice and involvement?

 

Management is now trying to receive input from all levels of the organization, including the front line workers.Feedback regarding issues such as customer service and efficiency cannot come from a better source than the workers that are directly involved.

 

Production teams usually consist of 15 to 20 employees working together to meet a quota.They are given the freedom to decide on their division of labor.Why would this freedom motivate a team to work hard to meet their quotas?

 

It has to do with autonomy again.When you have this ability to initiate and direct your own behavior, you feel this freedom and new power which can subsequently give you some intrinsic motivation to work.You feel as though you are a contributor to the final outcome.

 

Projects and Development teams have greater autonomy than most, their cycles of work are longer, extended team life span, and are expected to innovate rather than implement.

 

Action and negotiation teams are assembled for brief performances.Their tasks typically require them to improvise.

 

 

 

FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS:

 

Work team effectiveness is dynamically interrelated with organizational context, boundaries, and team development.

 

It implies an ecological perspective and the premise that work teams can best be understood in relation to external surroundings and internal processes.

 

What factors of the organizational context do you think could effect work team performance?

 

Organizational resources, reward system- is team output or individual output rewarded, span of control and freedom given by management, the overall support of the work team that is given by management, the ability to implement decisions made in the team.

 

Why is it important to have boundaries between the work team and the overall organization?

 

A work team can lose its identity.When this occurs, decisions that are made may not be taken serious any more.With numbers and cohesion comes power and when that cohesion and/or numbers seems to fade away, so does that teamís original identity.

 

Team development reflects the fact that teams change over time in relation to their organizational context.Groups need to be dynamic as opposed to stable.Why do you think this is?What aspects of the overall organization would a team need to adapt to?

 

Time allotted for work team activity, the rewards system, again resources allocated for the team, work load Ė do we need more or less work members?Could more or less work members make our team more productive?

 

Team effectiveness consists of performance and viability.Why does Sundstrom include viability in his definition of team effectiveness.

 

Because implying that effectiveness only means performance overlooks the fact that this definition could mean teams overworking or growing tired of their work.Viability means that members are satisfied with their work, are participating, and are ready to keep working on future projects with their group.

 

Interrelationships Ė takes into account that the framework is more of an input-process-output type approach.Hackman proposes that team members evaluate their collective performance as they work and these evaluations effect group processes which in turn effect the groupís overall performance.

 

ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT AND WORK TEAM EFFECTIVENESS:

 

This section dives a little deeper into each framework for identifying team performance.

There are eight aspects of the first framework, organizational context, that Sundstrom has listed.They include organizational culture, task design and technology, mission clarity, autonomy, performance feedback, rewards and recognition, training and consultation, and physical environment.These aspects came from 16 experiments on autonomous work groups and were listed as important features for team success.

 

Culture refers to the shared values and norms of a group.Those groups that favor innovation or incorporate shared expectations of team success foster team success.Why would this be?

 

It means that the members are working on the same page.In a group that is having problems, one member may feel that the team is effectively producing while another member may feel that the team is not working at its potential.Also teams that innovate and create new ideas to produce may find a way to increase the overall production of the group without increasing the work load.

 

Why would the teamís task be important?

 

When there is conflict in the group, it makes it easy to go back to the original task and go from there.When two team members have opposing views, the group may ask which view supports the task at hand?Is one of those views going off topic?It is also important to ask if the task at hand realistic.Can this task be accomplished or is our group wasting resources?

 

Technology is also seen as being related to the team success.This is self-explanatory.Technology can foster success or at the same time hinder it.

 

A teamís mission statement needs to be understood throughout the entire organization.Doing this will help when the team needs to consult with other teamís in the organization.If an organization had numerous amounts of teams, yet none of them knew what the other existed for, those teamís are not utilizing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the teams around them.

 

Team autonomy depends upon the role of the leader and how power is distributed.Manz and Sims suggest that managers act as ďun-leadersĒ where the team members themselves are left with the decision to make one of those members a leader or to just share the power.Leaders can possibly stop to the forefront when their particular strength is needed.

 

Performance feedback should be linked directly to the teamís goals, why?

 

When the teamís performance is linked to something that they are not aware of or have no control over, team satisfaction may decrease as a result of negative feedback regarding performance.

 

What is outcome interdependence?

Desirable consequences to individual members contingent on the whole teamís performance.Rewards can be allocated in numerous ways: recognition, team celebrations, desirable schedules, money (has been linked in a study involving a group incentive plan as related to time off).

 

Training and Consultation Ė can teach or train un-leadership, and/or cross training Ė receive rewards for learning new skills in a team that incorporates job rotation.

 

Why is it important to have a physical environment which facilitates team effectiveness?

 

When communicating with other teams or members outside of oneís own team, it is essential that there are appropriate meeting places that are convenient for those workers to meet.If groups are dispersed far apart, it is important that those groups have methods of communicating information clearly.

 

BOUNDARIES AND WORK TEAM EFFECTIVENESS:

 

Group boundaries mediate between the organizational context and team development and are tied to effectiveness.

 

A group still has to maintain integration into the larger organizational context.In what ways must a group stay integrated with the organization to be effective?Example:Why would a produce stand have to stay integrated with itís manager/supplier to remain effective?

 

Relay needs (what products are needed), convey customer feedback to the manager (what products do the customers prefer or which do customers have the most complaints about), which products are selling the quickest, profit/loss margins.

 

Effectiveness depends on the pace and timing with other work teams (communication is important) Has anyone ever worked in a job where this was essential to success?

 

Differentiation, or the degree of specialization, interdependence, and autonomy a work team possess in regards to other teams, is important.Homogenous work teams are simply performing the same task and this could become redundant.Teams that require secrecy to others may need to be specialized.

 

Table 1 integrates the four types of work groups in relation to their boundaries.

 

For example, project development teams (research groups, planning teams, etc.) are highly differentiated from other groups (typically have highly specialized members, specialists, etc.) and have low integration into the organizational context (internally paced, projects have deadlines).