Stages of Team Development and Managing Effective Teams
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The systematic approach of building powerful teamwork is one of the essential studied areas of all successful business organizations. There are many literature resources available on how team leaders can drive maximum value through the reliable methods, such as by accurately formulated objectives, incentive awards, thoughtful use of variable compensation and transparent metrics, focusing on individual and team force. These classical, formal tactics work in the higher degree for achieving high productivity in an organization but these days, effective team leadership questions are most salient for driving value in business of the today’s competitive environment. However, as a rule, they are more difficult, and demand deep understanding of not only products and company service offerings, but also of how the company’s own leadership functions and creates value. Team leaders must acknowledge that their role is crucial in effective team building. However, to be successful, they need a framework to implement their ideas into reality. The aim of this research is to analyze how Hortim International Spol is effectively utilizing its potential and caliber in developing its team building for successful operations of the company (Adair 1986).
The Tuckman and Belbin model used in this paper is on the assumption that there are recognizable team’s characteristics that, if present, can ensure team success. The two theories in this paper present an elaborate set of decision strategies for the sequencing and selection of team building efforts and their implementations. The models need multi-staged effort that demands considerable planning and environmental knowledge to implement successfully.
Stages of Team Development and Managing Effective Teams
This paper study tools from Tuckman and Jensen (1977) and Hersey and Blanchard for established and new teams, assist team leaders and their force to understand the significance of team work, and how effectively team leaders can guide their teams for further development. Team leaders often exempt or neglect their teams to understand that it is essential and, in fact, it is necessary to undergo the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing to attain high efficacy. Usually, team leaders and their force try to avoid storming stage out of fear, but this is essential for team members to air their opinions and ideas openly and share their views so that a team can become stronger (Kotter 1996).
It is essential for team leaders to demonstrate a crucial role at different phases: face to face interactions with members are highly valuable in the storming process, and an outward focus to stakeholders is significant in the high performing phase. Through continuous awareness of different phases, team force can support their team leader and other members, and also ascertain that their potential is fully developing within the team. This renewing sometimes refers to mourning and forming and is what occurs frequently at the time of change for a team (Durcan 1994).
These are the crucial stages which need directive attention from the team leader. For a team force undergoing through renewal and change, it is significant for the leader and team to celebrate the performance of the past and to learn the reasons of their success.
One crucial role for the leader is to maintain a crow eye on the team to visualize how the scenario is changing. This can include different opportunities and pressures for the large organization; changes in culture and strategy and operational changes in its overall context and stakeholders. Each of them will have significance for the team members: what it requires to fulfill and how.
Well-designed learning methods such as holding discussions about other teams’ experiences in Peer Assists during the beginning of team life, carrying after action reviews and conducting learning retrospect at the end of a team’s life is advantageous to share and capture experiences between current and new members. At the time of change, it is crucial for the leader to acknowledge that all of the members may not fit into the new world, and they may require the assistance of HR personnel. Besides, if new team members become a part of the team, it is essential for the existing team to recognize that creation of a new team and the complete life cycle of the team development will need repetition so as to embrace values and skills. Whenever there are further changes, the entire team, will go through the renewal phase, and require going back through a complete cycle and retest against the new task and stakeholders (Tuckman 1977).
Hortim International Company established in 1993 under the leadership of leading Dutch company De Groot was already a part of “Total Produce”. This company is the leading European fresh vegetables and fruit exporter that covers wholesale trade, retails and produces food products. Total Produce group is one of the forefront companies in Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. There are six branches of Hortim International in the CzechRepublic employing 600 workers across all stores. The company provides a wide range of fresh vegetables and fruits, which covers all agricultural products available in the world (Hortim 2011).
The board consists of a managing director who is a chief of the company and executive directors of operations, finance and sales who assist him with the smooth management operations of the company. The sales director heads a team of two marketing managers and these marketing managers are responsible for sales activities of company’s six stores. Each of its stores has a store manager, assistant manager and sales assistants who assist store manager in pushing the sales activities.
In Hortim, marketing managers understand the significance of Tuckman’s theory as they believe that sales team is a back bone of the company. They practice the storming stage and expose their teams to demonstrate their views and skills freely. Thus, it enables the marketing managers to delegate more responsibility to its members, thereby making the team stronger. In team work problem-solving skills are important for pushing new ideas for sales growth; managers listen to problems of their teams and also make their suggestions for improvement. Thus, it enhances the competition among all team members to achieve power and position. In Hortim, team members often achieve success, since the team has all resources for carrying activities. Marketing managers reinforce team behavior that builds appreciation and trust showing that managers understand the significance of norming.
From time to time, marketing managers conduct training sessions for bringing efficacy in a team work in all stores of Hortim. They commit time to the team, and the individual member works with pleasure for the success of the team. Thus, it motivates the team members to encourage marketing managers to set higher goals for team members and in return to compensate them with rewards for their successes. In Hortim, it has been possible due to farsightedness of sales director who believes that if the leader is powerful so would be his/her team (Katzenbach 1993).
Although Hortim International incorporates all values of Tuckman’s theory and applies the model to its team building, still there are shortcomings, which the company needs to overcome. In stores, store managers themselves do not undertake these initiatives most of the time, making task of marketing managers more complex. There also exists a communication gap as the stores are at different locations and marketing managers are not always fully aware of the performance of team members.
Understanding Team Roles by Belbin's Team Roles Model
When team performance is at its best, managers find that each member understands responsibilities, and every role is fully accomplishable which is needed for achieving team objective. Occasionally, despite clear responsibilities and roles, a team may not be able to utilize its full potential. Perhaps, some members are not able to fulfill the task, which managers expect them to cope with, or others may not be enough competent, so things may likely fall between the cracks. It can be possible that a member, who has a potential for his/her expertise fails to analyze the wider picture and misses out steps or tasks that a manager would expect. In certain circumstances, a member can also become frustrated because he or she does not agree with the approach of other members.
Dr Meredith Belbin has been conducting a research on team performance for many years, and observed that members in teams have a tendency to assume different roles in a team. He states a team role as an inclination to contribute, interrelate and behave with other members in a peculiar way and defines nine such roles that underlineteam success (Belbin 1993).
Formation of Balanced Teams
Team leaders often implement Belbin model to create balance in teams. Unbalancing in teams can occur if all members have similar team roles or styles of behavior. If the members possess similar weaknesses, the whole team may tend to develop that weakness. If team members possess similar strengths, it is likely that the whole team may tend to compete for team responsibilities and tasks which best fit in their natural styles. This knowledge will entail the managers to implement this model in their teams by emphasizing all necessary roles and addressing the weaknesses or potential behavioral tensions among the members. By understanding his/her role within a team an individual member can also develop strengths and overcome weaknesses thereby improving contribution to the team (Lane 2008).
Belbin distinguished nine team roles, and he classified the roles into three groups: Action Oriented, People Oriented, and Thought Oriented. Each role associates with typical behavior and interpersonal strengths. He also identified characteristic weaknesses that accompany each team role. He named these characteristic weaknesses as the allowable weaknesses; in regard to behavioral weaknesses, these are areas of awareness and improvement (Weinreb 2003).
For determination of team roles, it is essential to use questionnaire created by Dr Belbin that focuses on the roles in the team work. The compromising team roles are classified into four groups that complement each other and cannot form a unit for teamwork without each other. The formation of teams in Hortim International is accomplished with indeterminate duration.
Three prime teams, which cooperate together, are sales force of six Hortim International stores purchasers who look after procurement of fruits and vegetables and a team of assistants, whose prime task is to assist with and coordinate solving of daily problems of team members. The team of assistants provides all necessary documents such as shipping document and insurance certificate. These three teams are dependent on each other for effective communication and cooperation, and without each other’s support it will not be possible for the company to prosper and achieve goals (Locke 1990).
Analysis of team roles
In Hortim International, there are various team groups that blend together and the functioning of each group depends on one another. The second analysis of this research consists not only of one team work, but the three significant teams altogether which constitute the main pillar of the Hortim. All team members anonymously filled the questionnaire distributed among them. In this research, the focus is on the summarized results that do not include the individual results of a certain member. The questionnaire is comprised of nine team roles of Dr Belbin theory that assists with the analysis of the team roles and evaluates the results with the help of the website design on the basis of statistics counts. The following tables depict team roles allocation in the team (see table 1).
The role of motivator has the highest rating. The prime task of motivator role is to unite and integrate the team. Since most of the team members had a high rating of this motivator, there are fewer chances of serious problems that could arise from communication and human relations.
The chairman role occupies second place in the rating, which points out that the majority of members emphasizes sharing a common goal, and inclines to make best use of the team potential. The team members have confidence in their skills and concentrate more on the task rather than self-assertion, which is highly significant for the smooth functioning of a team. They assist each other and encourage the confidence of other members.
The role of implementer occupies the third place. They have a powerful representation by the members, possessing the skills of formulating plans, organizing crucial activities and assigning the tasks. Shaper and evaluator occupy the middle place. Evaluators are those who can critically evaluate the efficiency of the project. They possess the power to express their opinion and cannot be manipulated by praising so far as it concerns the project.
Shapers give energy and life to the team; they have potential to overcome complications and obstacles. They assure that if the project is not feasible than evaluator and shaper will not approve the project.
Planter and completer have lower points. The planters are needed during the initial stage, when they formulate proposals and conceive new projects. Sometimes proposals are not feasible so they must consult with implementers and completers. Completers provide a small representation and their involvement is needed in the final phases of the project. Researcher and specialist receive the lowest points since their task lies in resolving of unusual problems. The table in the appendix shows the overall group participation with individual percentage (Spear 2009).
The above study shows that team roles representation is almost alike making a company stronger from the point of competitiveness in business. Hortim International emphasizes the smooth operations of the company, and the company achieves it by means of active team cooperation.
The analysis of team roles reveals current stage of team work standards in Hortim. Tuckman’s theory exposes a large communication gap as the location of stores is in different cities and marketing managers are not regularly updated with the performance of team members, which results in disapproval of team members. Moreover, the store managers are not able to approach the Sales Director directly at the time of need, which makes their task more complex. The marketing managers should arrange regular meeting between the store managers and sales director so that there is no existing gap. It would be appropriate to provide training courses for all team members for improving communication within a team and compensating them with awards and promotions. The critical factors for discontent in the team are insufficient motivation, unsatisfactory reward system and non-effective communication.
The team goals should be clearly defined in the best comprehensible way and the means of how to accomplish those goals should also be included in the charter. Normally, the company defines the team goals but overlooks these essential points, which poses serious discontent among team members. This can result in team losing its direction or move in the same direction without proper guidance.
Building commitment and trust is the basics of human foundations for creating an efficient team. Members of a successful team possess a positive attitude and anticipate problems as challenges instead of obstacles. As team leaders, managers focus on building trust and competence. Training itself helps in building of collective trust and competence, and trust is a product of competence.
As the team becomes more effective and improves performance, it will become more united and will not only adhere to the job until its completion but will be committed to doing it. Further, success of one team in an organization boosts the morale of other teams and supports the formation of larger teams in an organization.
The managers in Hortim recognize the essentiality of team building and how to lead effectively and efficiently to attain the goals set by the management. The talent of managers enlightens and improves performance of team members and tremendous success of Hortim International. In the past six years it has shown the tireless efforts of team leaders.