With the help of theories and practical examples critically examine the idea of team work. Could it be used as an instrument of control? What is team work? “The simple truth is that people in business today do not understand the true concept of teamwork. Over the years there have been some unbelievable examples of teamwork in our day-to-day lives; like the 1927 New York Yankees Baseball Team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins Football Team, the Navy SEAL Teams or Fire Fighters anywhere – the list goes on and on.
So how do we consistently achieve the type of teamwork here all team members feel the same way about a goal or a mission, they work towards that end and it comes naturally in business ? I don’t think we can – not because it isn’t possible, because it requires a type of commitment that isn’t achievable in today’s business environment. “l Ever since mankind started living together teams and group formation were in practice. It is one of the oldest things known to man from the beginning of civilization.
It is not a recent phenomenon and the development of team work as a concept and part of management studies is a recent approach. Teamwork can be defined as an activity or a set of inter-related activities done by more than one person to meet a common goal. In other words it is said as Together Everyone Achieves More. “2 What is the importance of teamwork in the workplace? There are many significance attached to working in a team. Joint effort of a group of people can help achieve the goals efficiently.
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Organizations should develop the habit of building teams because of the following reasons: Learning takes place at a faster rate. Valid experience of other team members can be shared and knowledge acquisition takes place. Distribution of workload becomes easy and members will be positively motivated to contribute to the team goals. A common bond is created among the team members resulting in group dynamics. An atmosphere of healthy competition is created where each one try to excel in their field but at the same time they compete for superior performance.
Collaborative effort can help in bringing out creativity and innovativeness. Team work enables the employees put in best resulting in improved morale and Job satisfaction. Without much consumption of time assigned tasks can be completed. All the above mentioned benefits work at very pacific level. Looking at organizational level teamwork has more effect on the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. There are specific reasons why this strategy of working is promoted in organizations. At organizational level one can be focused on a particular goal and get the work done much before it is expected.
This creates superior performance among the employees and stress levels that the employees undergo will also be minimal. Continuous interaction and collaboration among employees foster informal ties among the employees and the turn to be loyal awards the organizations for their social and professional life. Looking at the significance of team work at strategic level we can see a direct relationship between results will be favorable and this creates Job satisfaction. Moreover, enhanced productivity within a limited period of time leads to a conducive environment for growth and survival.
In the words of experts, “working in a team does not in any way reflect on a single employee’s inability to perform the task with effectiveness. Teamwork is highlighted in situations where in many people with diverse skill-sets need to come together in order to complete a task that needs different perspectives. Working in a team ensures that the completion of work is thorough. Effective teamwork can be imperative for proper completion of result oriented tasks. Another factor that needs to be taken into account is the fact that it merely reduces the time taken to perform the task”3.
Theories on teamwork Bruce Ticktack is a Psychology professor at Ohio State University and in the year 1965 he came out with a theory known as Dustman’s stages in which team formation is discussed for benefiting the work culture of any organization. As per the Dustman’s del of group behavior there are four stages of team formation. They are forming, storming, morning, performing and adjourning. The first stage of forming explains the initial meeting of the team members. In this stage of formation members try their level best to avoid any conflict which may result in creating bad impression. According to TCPMAN, very little work on the project at hand gets completed during this stage. This stage is more important for becoming acquainted and learning to work together. “5 In the second stage storming, brain storming takes place among team members and it will be a process of dealing with arguments and debates on different ideas. “TCPMAN explains that this stage is a test of group members’ maturity and ability to compromise with others’ opposing ideas, two major necessities when in a team setting. “6 Morning stage is characterized by carrying out of the assigned roles and responsibilities.
In the words of TCPMAN, this is the most simple of all the five stages. According to TCPMAN, “the fourth stage, performing, happens when the group or team begins to work as one cohesive unit in an efficient and productive manner”8. There will not be any arguments or debates. Individual members in a team become well-coordinated with the team and the goal assigned. The final stage is adjourning in which the team members complete their assigned task and disperse for other assignments. Studying various research outputs on teamwork, Dustman’s stages gives a sharp contrast to the ideas given by the Attainment and Schmidt Continuum.
When looking at teamwork as a strategy to develop grander performance on the part of employees and at organization at large, we need to look at the managerial roles among the teams and the degree of empowerment given to employees in an organization to improve their productivity ND performance. The aspect of empowerment creates responsibility and accountability on the part of managers and employees. Giving more power to employees makes the managers accountable and not giving them enough power will theory, Attainment and Schmidt focused more on the manager as the primary role and what would potentially happen to the manager in these situations.
On the other hand, TCPMAN wanted to focus on the entire team as a cohesive unit. While compromise is a major contributor to the TCPMAN theory, the Attainment and Schmidt Continuum emphasizes the leader as the only decision-maker of the group; he team is merely Just there for ideas and contributions. Overall, Dustman’s Stages is a much more balanced group effort, while the Attainment and Schmidt Continuum is what one would find in a current corporation’s business meeting. “9 Some examples of corporate practices In the modern offices one can see many ways in which teamwork is practiced.
Some of the most commonly found practices are: Collaboration is done through technology solutions when employees are dispersed over many regions Assigning roles and forming teams so that diverse teams are created in the organization Having retreats mongo all irrespective of their Job titles Teamwork as an instrument of control: According to Outsold, “teamwork is a new means of management control as it yields ‘ultimate “competitive advantage’ as Workers invent new ways to reduce costs and improve product quality”10.
Recent times have shown have implementation of organizational processes through teams are the best way for advancement and progress. Recent research have also proved that working in teams can bring a number of benefits to the organization like innovation and creativity, involvement and participation and increased productivity and performance. However, the concept of teamwork is not free from criticism. “Critics of teamwork argue that its introduction into the workplace can create higher workloads, resulting in higher stress levels and work pressure.
They warn that team systems may encourage employees to internalize managerial definitions of their work situations, resulting in management control increasing. Such pessimistic views of teams support the argument that they are implemented as ‘merely another instrument of management control’ and therefore do not benefit employees. “11 When looked at the perspective of teamwork being used as an instrument of management control, there is a greater scope of it promoting interpersonal conflicts among team members and the question of empowerment and decision making will be a severe concern.
Thus the concept and approach of teamwork can also result in stress and pressure among the employees. Though there are two sides to teamwork being implemented as an instrument of control, one should look at the perspective of management and decide whether it is a good strategy or not. As a first step towards the analysis of this one should understand what controlling means. “According to Edwards (1986) there is an important distinction between ‘detailed’ and general’ control.
Detailed control refers to those who make the decisions about how issue of securing workers’ commitment to the aims of the enterprise’ (Geary and Dobbins 2006). ” In general terms controlling means measuring the performance of an employee or team and comparing it with standards set and taking corrective measures if any deviations are found. All these definitions give the idea of controlling as allocation of work and resources. One of the reasons why managers implement teamwork is that when the organizations are in the growth process, administration and leadership would reach each and every employee.
Using teams would make this feasible as an expanding work makes the process of managing complex. Management becomes complex as they have to make sure that employees are actively participating and performing their assigned roles. They also have to ensure that they are not controlled too strictly as it may negatively affect their morale and motivation. Controlling for higher performance is always a highly demanding task from the side of management in a growing organization due to its complex process of expansion in a global culture.
Lot of management theorists have advocated the concept of teamwork as an appropriate strategy to control and achieve improved performance. Some of the expert opinions found in a research paper are as follows: Barker and Tompkins (1994: 224 in Jazzmen and Wolcott 1998) claim the move towards teamwork is ‘currently the most popular form of organizational restructuring and has been increasingly introduced into companies to develop lean production, and high commitment workforces.
As there is a global economic expansion and instability of change and competitiveness, organizations need to train and develop employees in ways that tangibly benefit performance and productivity. Caffeine (1992) argues that the key to business success revolves around how a firm uses and involves its workers to contribute to the organizational culture which is defined as ‘The deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously, and that define in a basic “taken for granted” fashion an organizations view of itself and its environment. Lora’s (1996: 95) states it is ‘The shared beliefs that top managers in a company have about how they should manage themselves and other employees. These beliefs are often invisible to top managers but have a major impact on their thoughts and actions’. Managers therefore have a major influence on the organizational culture. Peters and Waterman (1982) argue there is a strong link between cultures and performance. Creating a teamwork culture within the working environment is fundamental if managers are to achieve their goals through the operation of teamwork. Emends less empowerment leading to more managerial control and improves the work performance. Today’s working environment demands from the managers the accessibility to ensure that all goals are met and achieved at the right time. Grouping employees into teams will help them brainstorm on their respective tasks and standard performance can be achieved. As an instrument to control and improve the performance in an organization, teamwork has a lot of advantages.
Since an organization always strive to improve its work environment, the culture of teamwork will: Enhance the skills of the employees through collaboration Employees can practice autonomy and can be made accountable Employees will be empowered with authority and responsibility which also motivates hem by satisfying their social needs Improve the team leadership performance “Barker (1993, 1999) and Graham (1995) both agree that team systems broaden regular control over employees, bringing workers into ‘closer and more frequent contact with management”13.
From the perspective of management, the strategy of teamwork gives them the most authoritative function. It is not only a tool that enables them in dominating their employees but also facilitates in bringing out their creativity and other skills. All these are a result of the increased pressure due to the existing competition in the market. These objectives ensure that team leaders control their group in such a way that they get the members committed in improving the standard and quality.
This improved performance indirectly creates brand loyalty. This is supported by the findings in Liker (1961) where he agrees, “managers deliberately place people into groups so they develop strong relationships and loyalty, which has an effect on high performance goals. In this study it appears that teamwork was implemented to ‘encourage people to identify with the company, achieve a common outlook, develop commitment and improve the absenteeism record”. Teams have come to become a new kind of practices in the company wherein the managers are able to bring out a good means of controlling employees by basically satisfying their social needs. Conclusion Thus, a detailed study on teamwork will prove that it brings about various advantages to the workers. The most important among those being the feeling of empowerment and Job satisfaction though there is a high degree of demand for constant effort resulting in stress and pressure.
At the same time, an analysis will show that the benefits through implementing teamwork for management outweigh the benefits available for employees. “Harris and Harris (1989) in their research argues that the teamwork culture within organizations gives workers greater control, and provides them with the opportunities to take responsibilities that have previously belonged to supervisors”1 5. The ultimate effect of the strategy will be benefiting both the employees and management.
When used as an instrument to control teamwork creates a conducive atmosphere for employees to work. Employees will be able to use a variety of skills and experiences demanded by the collaborative effort. Management ill be able to ensure that their productive participation and creativity will enrich the employees are under proper supervision and control and they are on the right path practicing their roles and responsibilities for the progress of the work.