Factors Which Influence Team Performance Management Essay

Team working has become increasingly popular and widely practiced in modern organizational environments. Thus it is seen as a method of improving productivity, motivation, skills, innovativeness and commitment of employees in an organization (Mullins, 2002, p.466) which can be used to improve the process of achieving organizational goals more efficiently and thus improve the business as well as to get competitive advantage.

The key purpose of this case study is to analyze and compare two team formation structures which have been proposed at the planning meeting to establish the new branch office for processing asbestos and VWF claims of Land Rock Alliance Insurance Company. The analysis is done in terms how proposed team structures underpin key performance factors which influence team effectiveness, efficiency and ultimately lead to a high performance work system.

2.1 Proposed Team Structures

Proposed team structures for land rock Alliance Company are based on recruiting 60 new employees in order to carry out processing of Asbestos and VWF claims. Each structure differs from other by key aspects of team formation, division of labor and motivation factors Table 2.1 gives details of the two systems based on above mentioned aspects.

Aspect

Brennen’s Team structure

Campion’s Team Structure

Team Formation

Four teams each consisting 15 employees

Each 15 member groups divided based on geographical area

3 teams each consisting of 20 members

Task based groups where each group consists of supervisor, Technical advisor, section Manager

Division of labor

Process all the applications based on assigned geographical area

Group1:Process Biographical details of clients

Group2:Process employment details of clients

Group3:Process medical history of clients

Motivation factors

Employee empowerment

Performance based Annual Bonus

Job enrichment

Table 2.1: Key features of Proposed Team Structures by Brennen and Campion

2.2 Factors which influence Team Performance

According to Hellriegel, Slocum & Woodman (1996, p.239) There are number of factors affecting work group and team behaviors and output. Thus, these factors can directly influence team performance and its productivity (figure2.1).

Figure 2.1: Key aspects of Work Group/Team Performance

Moreover these factors are highly dependent on each other where the combination of all the factors is essential for building up the perfect team to achieve desired organizational goals.

Factors which influence teams such as management practices (training of employees, Division of labor), motivation methods (performance based salaries etc.) and organizational rules can be categorized as external environment factors (Hellriegel, Slocum & Woodman, 1996, p. 222). Thus it is important to look at how the Team structures proposed by Brennen and champion can influence above mentioned factors.

2.3 Team Formation

Out of the two structures proposed, Brennen’s team structure is based on formulating self managed teams. Self managed teams are one of the most widely used team structures in today’s organizational environments which highly promote free flow of information and knowledge among team members (Broadbeck, 2002). Inside a self managed team, members perform highly interrelated tasks and all the members are involved in planning, scheduling, decision making and take collective approach to achieve the set goals and thus reduce significance of supervision. Therefore the level of autonomy of team members is very high. The key aim of setting up this type of team is to improve employee job satisfaction, flexibility and generate internal motivation among group members using empowering employees by allowing them to participate in decision making.

Brennen’s self managed teams standouts for an organic management system and flat hierarchy where high level of authority is given to team members and there is no visible mid level management or supervision. These aspects give members in brennen’s team structure a deeper sense of responsibility which would more profoundly bind employees to their tasks and encourage participative decision making.

Figure2.2: Brennen’s hierarchical management structure which supports a flat Hierarchy

In contrary, Campion’s grouping of is based on the characteristics of a team structure where individual performance of employees is considered as a means of accomplishing an organizational goals. The group’s size is 20 members where formally appointed leadership is planned where each group has section manager, supervisor and a technical advisor. Thus power is centralized according to the number of levels of hierarchies along a chain of command. Organizational Goals have been broken down in to sub tasks in order to simplify the job as well as to train employees to be comprehensively expertise in their jobs. Moreover the individual performance based motivation factors have been set up as means of improving overall performance and productivity of employees. These implications prove that Campion’s team structure posses the aspects of a group which is planned to operate based on Frederick Taylor’s scientific management method (Robbins, 2003, p. 597) which possesses mechanistic and bureaucratic management features.

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Figure2.3: Hierarchical structure for the proposed task- group structure by champion

Campion’s Team Structure which has higher number of hierarchical levels, would be able to give more control over employees and to keep them strongly goal oriented. But being subjected to strongly goal oriented can diminish the lateral communication among employees (Rollinson, 2005, p.491). Also increased number of hierarchical levels can give employees a sense of powerlessness which would make them de-motivated.

2.3.1 Division of Labor

Division of labor is used as a means of breaking down complex tasks into subtasks in order to create jobs for individual which will lead to “specialist people” (Beardwell, Holden & Claydon, 2004, p. 80). Campion’s model proposes to subdivide and simplify total job into three different tasks and allocating them to each group. This simplification can create each group and their respective members to be specialized or highly skilled in doing the respective task by repeating it. This will help to process the tasks more efficiently. In an overall organizational perspective this method is beneficial because it can produce more efficient and less expensive training (Robbins, 2003, p. 426). However being subjected to do simplified, repetitive work which has low variety and requires minimum effort can discourage employees and loose interest in their jobs leading to low productivity levels. In addition, it would impede the self development of employees.

Brennen’s team structure proposes teams should be allocated for completing the whole task of processing the applications. This provides opportunities for employees to develop their skills in a multi-dimensional way which would increase the job satisfaction levels and creativity. But time and cost for training would be increased where as teams are required to be trained to do complex tasks as well as to work as a team.

2.3.2 Motivation

Motivation is seen as a key element of improving the productivity and effectiveness of work force in an organization. People differentiate from each other based on their personality which would shape their needs and motivation factors. Herzberg’s two factor motivation model emphasizes that there are hygiene factors and motivation factors which employees are interested in (Rollinson, 2005, p199). Both hygiene and motivation factors are equally important, thus both should be present to improve job satisfaction and productivity.

Figure 2.4: Herzberg’s two Factor Motivation Model

Self managed team structures proposed by Brennan allow team members to be motivated by empowerment and job enrichment factors which can be used to generate good interpersonal relationships, sense of achievement, responsibility and recognition. It also provides opportunities for personal growth and wide variety of skills to be used which would be able to provide more job satisfaction levels. However it lacks the hygiene factors such as methods of supervision and remuneration rewarding systems which can de-motivate team members.

In contrary, Campion’s management structure provides remuneration based rewarding system as well as a strong line of authorities to ensure the quality of supervision. limited freedom of communication and decision making power would restrict the opportunities for personal growth and other motivation factors leading to lower job satisfaction and can eventually reduce the productivity and efficiency.

2.3.3 Job Enrichment

Job enrichment is a means of vertical expansion of jobs by allowing employees to do complete tasks and controlling, planning, executing and evaluating of their work. According to Robbins (2007, p. 473) It can be used to increase employee freedom, responsibility, allows employees to evaluate and correct self performance. In this sense job enrichment can be used to increase job satisfaction and reduce absenteeism and turnover of employees. However according to Balkan (1999) attitudes of employees, lack of opportunities to self organize ,skills and learning abilities of employees and the actual need for self organizing can adversely affect job enrichment which would result in duplication of tasks, time waste and conflict in goal achievement. Moreover some employees might not be interested in empowerment or enrichment factors where they would like to be working under formal lines of authorities.

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2.3.4 Rewarding System

Comprehensive Rewarding systems are a vital factor for motivation of employees and can highly influence productivity. In the context of teams, rewarding systems should be designed for both individual and group performance where group based rewarding systems can increase productivity and effectiveness.

Brennen’s team proposal lacks a clearly defined rewarding system such as performance based incentives to motivate individuals or the whole group. However it allows the opportunities for job rotation which will increase the job satisfaction levels of employees. Campion’s structure is equipped with individual pay-for-performance (Rollinson, 2005 p.685) rewarding system. But there is no rewarding system set up for overall team performance. Trent(2003) argue that a rewarding system which focuses only on individual performance can lead to conflicts and increasing of tensions among group members, affecting adversely to overall team performance.

2.3.5 Cohesiveness

Team Cohesiveness is seen by Mullins (2002, p.222) as one of the key performance factors which defines team performance and effectiveness. Effective teams have a high cohesion among team members. Group cohesion cannot be suddenly achieved and it takes time to develop. According to Tuckman’s model, before coming into a performing stage teams undergo three stages of forming, storming and norming where cohesion between group members develops gradually with time across stages. In this sense self managed teams proposed by Brennen would consume much longer time to approach a performing stage. Also, the autonomy enjoyed by group members can result in conflicts. In addition, if there are inappropriate members included in the team, it can severely damage team cohesiveness and as a result disagreements could be generated among members. This can adversely affect overall team performance. This is true especially if the employees who form the teams are new.

Because of high level of communication and knowledge sharing of members inside a self managed team, there will be a strong cohesion among group members. Therefore decision making time can be significantly low and collective effort can improve synergy leading into increased productivity and efficiency. In contrast, low level of lateral communication, individual based rewarding systems which can lead to impede collective effort .This can create zero or negative levels of synergy in Campion’s team structure and the resulting outcome would be below the total collective performance of the individuals inside the group which is proposed by Campion.

2.3.6 Team Size

According to Hellriegel, Slocum and Woodman (1997, p.210), the upper limit for number of team members of an effective functioning group generally lies between 13 – 16 members which would enable each member to interact with every other member thus improving effective communication. Oversized groups can minimize the communication between group members as well as generate conflict leading to wasting too much time on decision making as well as duplication of tasks. Moreover some of the group members can become absent and leave out their goal achievement tasks.

These factors are especially critical for self regulated teams where employees are allowed to enjoy more decision making freedom. On the contrary, champion’s team structure exceeds the no of employee margin per a team and would suffer waste of management time and money on supervising large no of employees. On the contrary, higher number of hierarchical levels will be able to give more control over the large group and prevent duplication of tasks and minimize conflicts.

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2.3.7 Leadership

Leadership is a vital aspect of a team as it helps group to reach organizational goals. Thus leaders can influence heavily on the team cohesiveness, goal settings and their achievements (Trent, 2003).

In self managed teams where low level of hierarchy is available leadership is created as an informal role by consensus of other members. Because of this, leadership can exert high levels of influence on group cohesion and development of performance norms. Also leadership role acts as a facilitator for synergizing, envisioning and integrating team members rather than formally appointed leaders who tends to be commanding, controlling and executing tasks (Thibodeaux and Faden, 1997). On the other hand weak informal leadership in self managed teams can result in low performance and making the group to be inefficient in goal achievement.

Formally appointed leaders in Campion’s model can generate performance impeding norms and de-motivation inside a team because employees might dislike the personality aspects of the formally appointed leadership and the feel of lack of power. Moreover leadership must be strong enough to influence group members to perform as a unit. Moreover the leaders (section managers) should be able to communicate effectively with to combine each allocated tasks to bring the final output. In this sense, if occurred; inter group conflict can sternly affect the achievement of organizational goals.

3.0 High Performance work Systems and Teams

A set of management framework which emphasizes on higher involvement and responsibility of employees is known as a High performance work system (HPWS). key aims of a HPWS is to improve skills, knowledge, flexibility and knowledge of employees (Bohlander et al., 2004) Which will act as boosters for improving cohesion among group members which can improve job satisfaction, motivation and ultimately productivity and efficiency. According to Shih et al. (2006) HPWS has proved that it can both economically and statistically improve employee earnings, output and corporate financial outcomes. Drummond and Stone (2007) pointed out that in order to create a HPWS there must be three key management practices involved. Figure 2.4 shows basic framework for a HPWS.

Figure 3.1: Key Management Practices required for a high Performance Work System

Table 2.2 shows a comparison between the two proposed models in the context of a HPWS;

Management Practice

Proposed solutions

Brennen’s Structure

Campion’s Structure

High employee involvement practices

Knowledge sharing and communication

YES

Minimum

High-level responsibilities and decision making powers

YES

NO

Human Resource Practices

High level recruitment processes

Training and mentoring

YES

YES

Reward and Commitment Practices

Performance based financial rewarding system

NO

YES

Promotion opportunities

Flexible work and job rotation

YES

NO

By glancing at Table 2.2 it is clear that HPWS supports collection of HR management features such as job enrichment, employee empowerment, flat organizational hierarchy as well as organic management system which well supports a self managed team structure. Nevertheless it lacks a rewarding system and promotion opportunities, Brennen’s self managed teams displays key features of a HPWS while Campion’s structure emphasizes on individual performances and lacks high employee involvement practices.

4.0 Conclusions

It is clear that factors such as Team cohesiveness, leadership, norms, Group size, management method (division of labor, team structure and training) and Motivation factors highly influence team effectiveness and productivity. It is also important to note that effective team structures should provide opportunities for employees to develop both individually and as a group. In this sense it is clear that Brennen’s self managed team structure tries to improve both individual and Team performances by using job enrichment, employee empowerment and organic management system while Campion’s structure tries to generate productivity based on individual performance only. Moreover positive synergy which can be produced within self managed teams is higher than the collective efforts of individuals and thus would be able increase the overall team performance and efficiency in self managed teams. Therefore brennen’s team structure is more suitable than Campion’s Team Structure to achieve the desired goals of Land Rock Alliance Company.

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