The Slipping Industry Accounting Team: Communication and Team Issues Abstract Goldberg, Coho, and McKay Associates is a merger with three accounting firms. The accounting department has a division that deals with the shipping Industry. After the merger. Four accountants from different states united as one team. Each team member was new to a long-distance team relationship, so they were worried about how the team would function. They had a task to attract new customers to the shipping industry. Since the establishment, the team has been having problems with communication and lack of cohesiveness, which leads to conflict.
They have not used the correct communication channel or accounting procedures, and because of that they have had misunderstandings. The solutions to these problems are: build trust within the team, no criticism between members, use video conferencing for face-to- face meetings, establish one accounting procedure for the company to use, and brainstorm. Communication is important in everyday life, whether it is personal or professional. In a professional environment communication is crucial, especially within teams. There are many forms of communication; one that is becoming popular in the workplace is virtual communication.
This communication involves using e-mail, phone, and video conferencing. When there is poor communication in an organization, there can be any number of negative outcomes; including errors, productivity declines, distrust, lower morale, confusion, absenteeism, and general dissatisfaction. Teams are a great tool to expand knowledge, share information, divide tasks, and build relationships. However, if team members lack agreement and communication, it results in a process loss, “resources (including time and energy) expended toward team development and maintenance rather than the task” (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013, p. 29). If process loss cannot be resolved, conflict arises between the team members resulting in task failure. One case will be analyzed to portray communication and team issues within an organization, and how it can be resolved. Case Synopsis McKay, Sanderson, and Smith Associates is an accounting firm that “specializes in commercial accounting and audits” (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013, p. 469). This company merged with two larger companies and formed Goldberg, Coho, and McKay Associates. These three companies combined had offices in Miami, Seattle, and Los Angels.
Steven Machines, an accountant for shipping companies was teamed up tit Alias in Miami, Susan in Seattle, and Brad in Los Angels to form the shipping industry accounting team. Their tasks were to e-mail each other new contracts and clients and prepare Joint monthly reports on accounting statements. Since all three members had different accounting procedures, it took numerous e-mails and phone calls to resolve an issue. Brad not only had poor communication skills, but the time zone difference between Steven and Brad left them with only a three hour window for communication; these problems delayed issues to be resolved.
In addition to their daily tasks, the team was “asked to develop a new strategy for attracting more shipping firm business. They had to brainstorm ideas, agree on a plan, and submit it to upper management” (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013, p. 469). Susan and Brad have had numerous misunderstandings on the project, which led to a conference call between all three to resolve. Not only did all three members have different opinions on the strategy and could not cohesively agree, but the long distance communication issues hurt the team and the division.
Analysis There are three main issues that are present in this case: team dynamics, communication among the team members, and low emotional intelligence resulting n conflict. “Teams are groups of two or more people who interact and influence each other, are mutually accountable for achieving common goals” (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013, p. 226). The shipping team had one goal in mind and that was to attract more business within their division. That demonstrates reciprocal interdependence, which is when “output is exchanged back and forth among between each other, which is easy in a small group size, such as theirs.
The problems that occurred were the team members were not cooperative or coordinated. They spent most of their time resolving conflicts within the team, which kook away from the actual task. Additionally, the team members were communicating virtually; through e-mail and conference calls. Brad rarely used e-mails; instead he used the company’s voice mail system, which caused miscommunication. Many sources of communication were used between the team members. “Communication refers to the process by which information is transmitted and understood between two or more people” (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013, p. 60). Understood is the key word; the four members communicated via e-mail, phone, and conference calls, but had numerous misunderstandings. There were many communication barriers that delayed information to be understood. Communication barriers “inhibit the effective exchange of information” (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013, p. 271). First, every person in the group had different accounting procedures, which resulted in 4 different monthly reports and additional communication. The second communication barrier was that the team members did not understand each other.
They communicated via e-mail on strategy’s for generating business, but misunderstandings and conflicts arose. E- mail communication is beneficial for daily work problems or instructions, but can be problem in complex situations. It does not offer non-verbal communication, reduces the tone of how certain words are expressed, and contributes to information overload (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013). What would have been a better solution for the shipping industry accounting team? Finally, the team members lacked emotional intelligence, which resulted in conflict between them.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as others’ (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013). All of the members, especially Brad, had low emotional labor, “The effort, planning, and control needed to express organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions” (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013, p. 103). Brad had conflicts with Steven and Susan. People with low emotional intelligence are more likely to be involved in conflict because they are unaware of others’ emotions and how to deal with their own. If the team was cohesive in their ideas or attitudes, conflict would have been minimized.
Recommendations There are many solutions to the problems with the accounting team. Before the team can gather information on the task, each team member needs to be comforting of one another. They need to help one another “maintain a positive and healthy psychological state… Show empathy, provide psychological comfort, and build [team member] feelings of confidence and self-worth” (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013, p. 234). When each team member feels wanted, other issues can be resolved easily. There is no evidence that any member of the accounting team is not satisfied with their Job, so it will be assumed that Job satisfaction is not an issue.
Each team member needs to recognize one another’s emotions and attitudes toward the team and tasks. Each team member was apprehensive about working in a team, since no en had experience with that. The team needs to build trust with one another; this is achieved by meeting deadlines on daily activities, even if each member has different other. When trust is built through reliance, communication is the next step to team cohesiveness. It is important for the team members to have face-to-face meetings because that is the best form of communication among teams.
It allows team members to communicate verbally and non-verbally. Non-verbal communication is just as important because it allows the person speaking to understand if they offended anybody or if their idea is liked by others. Pleasant emotions cause the brain center to widen the mouth, whereas negative emotions produce constricted facial expressions” (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013, p. 267). Since the team is in different states, it is beneficial for them to switch their communication channel to video conferencing for important meetings and maintain e-mails and phone calls for daily activities.
Finally, each team member needs to cohesively agree on one accounting procedure and focus on the task of generating additional business by cohesively brainstorming ideas. Upper management can be effective by placing guidelines on how to build a monthly accounting report. This will enhance the team dynamics because daily activities will be cohesive and coordinated. The task of generating business for the shipping industry requires brainstorming; this can help generate ideas with these four steps: “speak freely… Onto criticize others or their ideas; provide as many ideas as possible… And build on the ideas that others have presented” (Machines & Von Ogling, 2013, p. 248). Brainstorming also helps with evaluating how a team member thinks, whether it is creatively or structured. Positive brainstorming, meaning no criticism, increases team cohesion and team structure. When brainstorming, the team should be on a video conference call, which allows each team member to participate and agree as a team on ideas presented.
This will make it easy for them to agree on a plan and submit to upper management. Conclusion The shipping industry accounting team at Goldberg, Coho, and McKay Associates had issues with team communication, cohesiveness, and coordination, which led to conflict among team members. The team members did not understand each other’s feelings and emotions about the group, which led to misunderstandings. Their main source of communication was e-mails and phone conferences. Slight changes within he group members will help the team become strong.
The team needs to establish trust and make each member comfortable. They need to change the way they communicate; use video conferencing for developing strategies that will attract new customers and e-mail and phone for daily Job duties. They also need to brainstorm ideas via video conferencing for their special task of attracting customers and take each team member’s opinions as an idea. Reorganizing the team will increase productivity and profits for the company. Machines, S. & Von Gilson, M. A. (2013). Organizational Behavior. (Sixth De. ). New York, NY: McGraw Hill-Irwin.