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[转载]Promoting Team Effectiveness

(2010-07-06 22:58:38)
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分类: 学英语
原文地址:Promoting Team Effectiveness作者:晓哲

Topic 2:

How can manager help a work group to function as an effective team? Discuss the differences between a group and a team, and describe the strategies a manager can use to promote team effectiveness. Use examples to support your discussion.

 

Teamwork is an important part of any successful business. But there is a big difference between a group of people working together, and a team functioning together effectively. It is not enough just putting a random group of people in a room and saying "You're a team". True teamwork requires time, practice, planning, coordination etc (Jon Wee, Owen Morse. 2007). In most situations, an effectiveness team is the result of some very particular efforts.

A team is a unit of two or more people who interact and coordinate their work to accomplish a specific goal (Daft 2000). People in a team have regular interaction and share a performance goal. Although a team is a group of people, but team and group are not identical. First, a group usually has a designated strong leader and individuals are accountable only to themselves, while a team members share or rotates leadership roles and are accountable not only to themselves but also to each other. Besides, purpose for a group is quite similar to the organization’s. Group members produce individual work products and run efficient meetings. On the other hand, a team usually has their specific vision or purpose. Team members work together and run meetings encourage open-ended discussion and problem solving. Maybe the most significant difference between a group and a team is that group effectiveness is measured indirectly by influence on business, while team effectiveness is measured directly by assessing collective work (Daft 2000). In a whole, a team has a higher degree of coordinated interaction than a group (Hit, Black, Porter and Hanson 2007).

Re-organizing the company into teams is a strong trend in management strategy in recent years. The level of productivity in a team depends greatly on a manager’s ability to promote teamwork. Although an effective team is essential, it is not easy to build such one. To make a team effective, managers should enhance communication and promoting cooperation and team effort.

Teamwork is very dependent on communication. When a project is under way, constant communication is the only way to know what’s been done, what still needs to happen, and who needs help in fulfilling their obligations to the team. In a team environment, more than two people are involved in the communication process. Team members may receive much unsolicited feedback from several persons. This feedback is very important to the success of team communication because it enhance the communication process by providing information that would otherwise develop and expand from several one-to-one conversations (W H Weiss 2004)

VeriFone, an equipment supplier for credit card verification and automated payment, benefit a lot from its communications technology. VeriFone staffers are well-trained in how and when to use communications tools. Teams use beepers, cell phones, and voice mail to keep in contact. They disseminate information through fax, E-mail and application sharing over the network. But there are also some problems when using these communications technologies. Some subtleties of meaning are always lost and misunderstandings are more common than when teams work face-to-face. To avoid these problems as far as possible, VeriFone employees also are trained to understand the psychological pitfalls of communicating virtually (Susan Caminiti, 1995).

Centex Corporation, the largest builder of single-family, detached homes in the U.S, is another good example of team communications. The organization executives and managers use all kings of ways to disseminate as much information as possible to employees, customers, and stockholders. For instance, when managers recognize the restructuring that the company is going through could create anxiety among employees, disseminating proper information would help to reduce the anxiety. Managers will use different ways, such as a slide show, to tell everybody what the plan. They will go around the country and meet each of the groups to answer any of their questions, and help them understand the plan and the necessarily to make such changes. Annual report, the company’s most formal communication document which is usually distributed to top managers and stockholders is mailed to each Centex employee at home, because Centex executives believe that everyone in the company should have access to this information. This activity shows the employees are considered an important part of the company.

Apart from these “formal” communications, Centex also uses some “informal” communications such as a video called The Movie, which gives a good picture of the company and their operations, and an irregularly published newsletter called Some Times, which covers all kinds of information about the company including financial status, new products, and new markets. Centrex top managers get together with the employees several times a year to impart information to them and solicit their views on various topics through a kind of casual and energetic face-to-face discussion. Listening is another important part of communication. Centrex managers spend plenty of time of listening. Executives listen to the employees through a very successful series of meetings called fishbowl luncheons.

Centex now has annual revenues approaching $4 billion duo to its communication. (Trish Brennan 1999)

Another good method to promote team effectiveness is promoting cooperation and team effort (W H Weiss 2004). Most group members on the job want to be aware of what’s going on and whether they are directly affected. Managers can make them feel they are part of an important team rather than just individual employees. Managers should encourage team members to help each other to show how cooperation enables work to be done fast and more efficiently. Managers may also show team members  how to do some else’s work to make them learn to appreciate their colleagues’ problems and understand that some jobs are not as easy as they appear. Letting people share in making of some decisions is also a good idea. Team members will think of the team’s goals as their goals, and this will lead them to poll their abilities and skills to benefit everyone.

Teamwork is an important part of the organizational culture of Southwest Airlines, which is the most profitable commercial airline in the world. Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines, regards his company as a family, which is an example of a successfully functioning team. The company hire people who show a high degree of commitment to team work and a high interest in being part of the company. At a Southwest orientation seminar, new employees will break into teams and work together to create a device that will protect a raw egg from cracking when the contraption is dropped from a height of eight feet. The assignment help these employees learn how to function as special-purpose teams within the organization, brought together to undertake a particularly important or creative new project. The company also have a continuous learning process to train them not only to be good team members, but also to be good leaders. Southwest employees “are encouraged to be creative and innovative, to break rules when they need to, in order to provide good service to customers” (Kelleher 1999). One reason for high satisfaction and productive output is than the team was able to move quickly as a special-purpose team. One special-purpose team consisting of technical and business employees identified problems in the reservation system and began immediately to plan a new innovation—ticketless reservations which quickly became a revolution in the airline industry—without the nod from CEO Herb Keller. Formal horizontal teams, such as joint steering committees which identify technology projects and prioritize them based on potential business benefits to the company, are also allowed to function autonomously. Southwest airlines is now the most profitable commercial airline in the world.(Melymuks 1998)

To promote team effectiveness, managers should enhance communication and promoting cooperation and team effort. VeriFone, Centex and Southwest airlines are good examples.

Reference:

Gordon Rabey 2001. Is the team building industry nearing the apex of its S curve Team Performance Management 7, no. 78 (January 1) 112-116.  httpwww.proquest.com (accessed November 17, 2007).

Jon Wee, Owen Morse. 2007. Juggling People - Secrets for Successful Teams. Cost Engineering, August 1, 38-39.  http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed November 20, 2007).

Pollar, Odette 1996. Building effective teams. The Kansas Banker, April 1, 15.  httpwww.proquest.com (accessed November 20, 2007).

W H Weiss 2004. team management. SuperVision, November 1, 19-21.  http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed November 17, 2007). 

Hitt, M.A., Black, J.S., Porter, L.W. & Hanson, D. 2007. Management. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education Australia.

Daft, R.L. 2000. Management.(5th ed.). Fort Worth: Dryden.

William R. Pape. “group Insurance.” Inc. Technology 1997, no.2, 19,31

Kathleen Melymuka, “Sky King” Computerworld, September28, 1998, accessed at http://www.computerworld.com

Trish Brennan, “Centex Homes Building Intelligent Homes in Houston” Centex press release, Business Wire, March 11, 1999

“Centex Homes and Its Chief Executive Named National Builder of the Year,” Centex press release, PR Newswire, January 26, 1999

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