Impediments to Team-Building Is Near-endless. The Attitude Case Study

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¶ … impediments to team-building is near-endless. The attitude of most of the staff is utterly toxic. They act out of self-interest, are defensive of their own little fiefdoms and have no concept of teamwork. The different team members distrust one another, they distrust management and they distrust me as the coordinator. Some of the team members are silent while others are dominant -- in either case the role of personality in meetings and discussions is far too great. The different factions are arguing against people, rather than debating issues.

There does not appear to have been any attempt at leadership or co-ordination in the past. This has allowed the toxic situation to fester. Management has a number of tools that it can use to deal with toxic employees or groups -- correcting behaviour, changing motivation systems, even firing. Most management fails to address issues of toxic employees in large part because dealing with such problems head-on is an unpleasant experience (Ryan, 2007). It is clear that management has avoided dealing with this problem for far too long. Yet, in this situation is it unclear as to which employee or group is the cause of the toxicity. Not knowing the main source of discord in the organization is an impediment to team building and must be resolved. Given the role of the psychiatrist in this clinic, it seems that perhaps the psychiatrist is not only the source of the lack of leadership but is also the source of the toxicity. This is disappointing, but not unreasonable. Psychiatrists have a job to do, and it is not leadership. Leaders need to be in a leadership position, not those with technical skills that have nothing to do with leadership.

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One facet of the lack of leadership, worthy of consideration on its own, is that lack of an overall administrative system. With no administration system, everything is patchwork and ad hoc. This has lead to the culture issue where the employees cluster by professional allegiance rather that viewing problems objectively. Indeed, it is the leader's role to be objective -- the different professional groups are naturally going to be oriented towards their own interests. Management of the clinic has failed to provide this leadership and over the years this has lead to a toxic situation.

TOPIC: Case Study on Impediments to Team-Building Is Near-endless. The Attitude Assignment

In addition, it is clear that none of these employees are oriented towards corporate-wide objectives. Their resistance may be the result of petty immature stupidity, but it may also be that changes will have a genuine negative impact on their ability to do their jobs. Changes may also impact their compensation systems, so the defensiveness is directly related to negative financial consequences that are perceived to result from change. An examination of the company's motivation and compensation systems will be required in order to determine what changes need to be made in order to orient these workers to a team-based goal.

Another of the major impediments is that the different factions do not have a patient focus. While each may like to think that it has a patient focus, the resistance to change is a sign that this is not the case. The patients are suffering from the current system. A patient focus needs to be developed. In general, it is clear that few if any employees at the clinic now are oriented towards either patient-related or company-related outcomes. This must change in order to get cooperation from the different groups.

2. Tuckman identified a four-stage group development model. The first stage in forming and the other stages are performing, norming and storming. Forming is the clear first stage; storming is when members try to establish hierarchy; norming is establishing what the group stands for and team behavior; performing is getting work done (Atherton, 2003).

It is anticipated that the forming stage will not be difficult. It is already known which groups are going to be part of this team. While the different sides do not get along or trust each other, they are familiar with each other. The second stage is the storming stage. This will be the easiest stage -- I am in charge. The other team members have already demonstrated that they are not capable of acting like leaders. They all have their respective technical specialties and that is the basis of input that is required from them. Leadership is not. That role is filled now. When I leave, a new leader from within the company will be put in place to lead the meetings.

The third stage of the group development model will be the most difficult and most time-consuming to implement. The reason for this is that the different groups are at present married to their old ways of doing things. New norms must be established but for that to happen, the old norms must be disposed of. Whatever objectives to which these teams are oriented are not objectives to which they will be oriented in the future. The entire mindset of this organization must be changed.

In order to change the mindset of the organization and its constituents, organizational learning will be required. Leaders who support an environment for learning and who promote proactive learning behavior will be required to lead this part of the process (Chiu et al., 2009). One of the strongest points of resistance for this organization is that each group has its own approach to different issues and feels that its approach is beyond reproach. Each component of the organization will be asked to adopt a new approach, one that has been developed with consistency in mind. It is seen already that there will be significant resistance to this change.

Overcoming that resistance will not be easy. However, once the first two stage of group development have been undertaken, the task should be easier. Team-building is correlated most highly with affective and process improvements, both of which related directly to building new processes and new norms of behavior within the company (Klein et al., 2009).

It is also worth recalling that teams tend to grow one stage at a time, in a predictable pattern. The prior stage is the best predictor of the subsequent stage (Ito & Brotheridge, 2008). In this case, the team is more or less at the forming stage, but has yet to progress past this stage in a meaningful way. The reason for this is that as the group moves forward, the foundations that were laid before must be supported in order to prevent the group from regressing. In this situation had not occurred. When the group formed, it was unable to establish a clear sense of leadership or hierarchy. The group lacks a source of formal authority, which has meant that the vocal, volatile psychiatrist dominates discussion. As the result of this dynamic, the group has never been able to progress past the storming stage and into the norming stage. This is the reason why I must install myself as the clear leader of the group with a direct mandate from head office -- the group needs a leader in order to properly move past the forming stage and enter the norming stage.

3. The first step to bringing this group together as a useful team is to establish authority. At present, there are no formal leaders of the team and the informal leader is volatile and selfish. Either myself as the change agent or a member of senior management can fill this role, but the senior management has mismanaged the team dynamic badly in this organization so I should take this role for the time being. This move addresses the first two steps of group development -- forming and storming.

One challenge in the storming process may come from our truculent psychiatrist, who has been vested with informal authority despite his lack of leadership quality. Turning doctors into leaders is not easy but their expertise often thrusts them into leadership positions, which is what has happened here. In order to orient doctors towards desired results, the use of financial motivation and evidence-based measures has been identified as the most effective. In addition, the doctor must conform to the organizational culture (Lee, 2008). As one has not been established in this clinic -- at least not one worth perpetuating -- the psychiatrist will either need to conform to the new cultural norms or be replaced with a psychiatrist who will.

The norming stage is going to be the most difficult to address, but thankfully there are a number of tools that can be used to bring this team together. The first is to re-orient the motivation and reward systems towards team-based outcomes. The team at present resists change probably because change will result in decreased performance in terms of how the members are measured at their different units -- at least that is what they perceive will happen. In order to bring these different individuals together, they will need to be motivated by the same objectives, which will encourage them to work towards… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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