Team members at TSI surprisingly share similar experiences regardless of which team they belong to, it would seem that the current culture of working teams has been developed and reinforced and is almost set in stone. O’Neill (1997), states that permanent teams are likely to have settled work and social patterns, norms which are highly resistant to change even on the part of an active leader. Groups formed to address ad hoc tasks are possibly more vulnerable, or amenable to radical leadership action.
In every team there are one or two experienced members that seem to carry the other members through the team’s aims and objectives, these two experienced members keep power and control close to themselves and are heavily relied upon by the others. These ‘leaders’ seem to have more information and guidance from superiors indicated by statements 15 and 18, and use the information to bolster their own standing rather than unreservedly share the information with the team for its overall improvement (statements 8 and 11). This instantly creates a feeling of a hierarchical group rather than a fully functioning team.
The counter argument to this is interesting, some individuals feel that they can outperform teams by themselves, and often feel as though they are carrying the other members by themselves, through some form of training programme for less able colleagues. They feel that meetings just waste their time, when they could be completing other more important tasks, being more productive elsewhere. Some may feel that meetings are completely unproductive because the communication methods often result in complaints rather than constructive results
Some actually don’t feel comfortable working or sharing with others. The whole group thing could be intimidating for the individual that doesn’t like to speak out, or risk making commitments that they may not be able to keep or sharing unconsolidated views they may be questioned on at a later date. Some don’t like to depend on others, or share responsibility for their errors. Some may need to get things done their way. Statement 8 produced some interesting comments in subsequent interviews.
Members felt that there was not a free sharing of ideas to benefit the group, some individuals were being selfish and wanted to take credit for their own abilities and maybe even other’s abilities passing, them off as their own. A situation was described by 2 interviewees, that when the commander or a high ranking officer appeared to observe a meeting, there would be an increase in activity and an unprecedented sharing of information and viewpoints that would benefit the team, whereas ordinarily the same people would be seen to drag their feet in the absence of a high ranking officer to apportion credit for the individuals efforts.
Unfortunately officers in power promote and demote at will, based on the most trivial reasons, even if supervisors were asked about performance of certain individuals, the supervisors would play down the individuals abilities in order not to jeopardize there own position in the organization, they worry about talented subordinates being promoted above them. Statement 9 indicated that in some cases workloads are unevenly delegated depending on a leaders decision, which results in a varying degree of satisfactory completion of the task, members felt they were doing all the work for someone else to get the credit.
In other cases the leader would take on the task himself as he didn’t trust his members to complete the task to a high standard. Members initially felt happy that their leader kept their workload to a minimum, but soon realized that they were not involved in any decision making process, discussion of practices and recommendations and generally all power attributed to a group is kept in his hands. In either case members didn’t feel part of a whole collaborated process, and responded to statement 10 as not whole heartedly implementing outcomes or recommendations.
This in turn lead to public blaming and finger pointing outside the group as members felt they didn’t really have a voice that would influence decisions made within the group (statement 12). Mistrust and poor communications were commented upon during the interviews, especially when Arabic speakers (influential voices with the ears of superior officers) speak to each other in their native language without explaining their thoughts to the English speaking (talented) staff.
It is noticed that when an officer would chair a meeting, that they would sit behind a big desk and the rest of the team would sit on smaller chairs around the room, reinforcing his ‘superior’ position, he would generally wish to continue promoting this idea even though much of the real talent is in front of him and needs to be heard. As a consequence many members remain quiet waiting for this officer to speak. Often interruptions like phone calls keep members waiting and in some way promote the prestige and power of this leader making the group a very hierarchical and non collaborative team.
From statement 17 we find that people who control resources at TSI are a problem, as these are not often distributed effectively, many users of the resources start to use behind the scenes lobbying tactics to get what they want. When groups at TSI fail to perform, value its members, and maybe even look for scapegoats, then members are less likely to resign their fate to that group. Leaders fail to hold themselves accountable and fail to make clear and meaningful performance demands. Groups become more involved with internal politics which lead to a mutual mistrust and a lack of openness that teams depend on.
The politics play on individuals insecurities which further isolate that individual, affecting his conviction and courage to invest in a team approach. Rapport building opportunities 20 There are plenty of opportunities for the team to meet outside the work environment to increase rapport 5. 0 Strong disagree Overall mean average 5. 0 Strong disagree This is probably the greatest lost opportunity for staff at TSI for team building. Outside of the working environment local UAE national staff, European foreign hire staff and staff from Arab speaking countries/Indian subcontinent rarely mix with each other.
Reasons given through interview were: the UAE staff preferred to spend their free time with their relatively large families, whereas many of the European staff was single or as is the case of the relatively poorly paid Arab speaking staff and Indian subcontinent staff are here without their families. Alcohol related social events provide its own divide, where a significant number of European staff will vote with there feet and prefer to not attend unless there is alcohol present, equally the Arab staff will refuse to attend if there is alcohol present.
A further divide occurs with position and salary; some colleagues will clearly not be able to afford some of the costs related to socializing for example restaurant bill, transport issues. TSI management needs to realize the benefits of informal social interactions as described in the literature review by Katzenbach and Smith (1993), Schein (1988), Bell (1992) and Nias (1989) and extend them throughout TSI to include all parties in an attempt to find solutions to this problem.