Teams in organisations

Although the words group and teams are often used interchangeably they are different. When talking about group usually it refers to an assemblage of people or objectives which interact whereas teams are people organized to work together (Robbins 2005). Positive synergy is the buzz word in teams, 1+2 =4 the level of performance is greater than the sum of the individual input (Robbins 2005, Moorhead & Griffin 2007). As stated by Robbins (2005) teamwork takes more time and resources than individual work.

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They have a higher communication demand, more conflicts to be managed, and meetings to be run. Therefore in the end the benefit has to exceed the costs. ABC Consultancy is based on team work. Teams work together in small numbers with complementary skills which have the same goal and purpose and hold themselves mutually accountable. Depending on the customer we have to consult, the team will be created to complement the skills needed for the project. There have to be benefits when creating teams for the organization if not they shouldn’t be implemented (Robbins 2005).

The type of benefits achieved at ABC consultancy through team work lies in enhanced performance, benefits for the employees, lower costs and enhancement for the whole organisation (see Appendix 1). Besides the benefits there is also the cost side to be mentioned, when companies fail to change to a team-based organization. Especially when managers are coming from the hierarchical tradition they often are frustrated in their new role as facilitator or coach. They feel as if they have less power than in their old role where a stiff hierarchy gave them a certain status (Robbins 2005).

Employees also fear sometimes for their jobs, especially when their job is now part of or integrated in the team. However the highest losses are the cases when top management stops the process of changing into a team-based organization (Moorhead ; Griffin 2006). Such a process can be very time consuming and therefore top management can get impatient (Moorhead ; Griffin 2006, Gray 2007). In such a case besides costs, the confidence in management and decision makers is damaged (Robbins 2005).

A change of such a dimension needs therefore good consultations from the management side, so that also if delays occur, or additional costs are incurred, the change will not be jeopardized. It takes hard work, time, training and patience to change from a traditional organization structure to a team-based structure. ABC had the advantage compared to a hierarchal structured company, to start as a small enterprise where working in teams proved to be the most efficient way as a management consultancy.

With a growing number of employees and the ability to react quickly to the changing environment, ABC management has to support their teams especially in phases of team implementation to grow, sort out the difficulties to develop to a self-managed team which outperforms their goals. One of the main problems teams face when they start to work together is that their performance often declines drastically before it rises. High expectations and time pressure often puts too much pressure on teams and does not allow them to develop to their real potential (Moorhead ; Griffin 2006).

In Phase 1 the start of a team, performance is at a normal level, sometimes a little enthusiastic. In phase 2 reality hits the team, problems occur, confusion, lack of direction of training and support to a stage where performance declines. After struggling in phase 2 a refocus in phase 3 occurs. Internally they establish an internal leader (which could also be a rotation in leadership of the team members) they are more comfortable with the team idea, refocus on the work and now performance will come back and exceeds the formal level.

(Moorhead ; Griffin 2006). In phase 4 teams are experiencing their own potential. This is the phase where the most increase in performance can be achieved, because teams have managed to work out their difficulties, use their knowledge and start to enjoy their independence and the freedom to make their own choices; at this stage members know each other and are committed to the team and the outcome of the project. The next phase (5) culminates in self managing teams, experienced, mature, flexible exceeding their performance (Moorhead ; Griffin).

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business School Publishing 1993, in Moorhead ; Griffin 2006, Performance and Implementation of Teams, p. 243 In regard to ABC team implementation, it has not yet achieved the final stage of self management. The teams learned to perform well with each other under limited supervision and therefore reached phase 4 of implementation. To reach their full potential of a self managed team the top management has to support the entire developing process.