Case Study: Organizational Behavior and Team Building

Pages: 6 (1986 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Business - Management  ·  Buy for $19.77

Organizational Behavior and Team Building

In the corporate world today, there is an increasing recognition of the importance of teamwork to help a company achieve its organizational goals. Indeed, the organization as collective is increasingly seen as an extended team of people, where each individual is expected to work towards the achievement of common goals and directives. Within this extended context then, teams are created within organizations to help individuals better realize the goals of the company. Teams have several advantages, including a lighter workload for every individuals involved and better decision-making possibilities as a result of a higher level of collective critical thinking. Specifically, cross-functional and self-directed teams have regularly been used in organizations for their specific advantages and function within the corporate context.

Cross-Functional Teams

According to Stennes (n.d.), the core nature of cross-functional teams lies in their diversity. Members are assembled from diverse, unrelated areas of the organization. Such teams are usually assembled when different types of expertise are required for an action, launch, or plan. A new product, for example, may require team members from marketing, accounting, purchasing, engineering, and so on. Each team member then contributes his or her particular expertise for the best possible assembly of the new product or launch.

According to the author, the major strength in this diversity is that the many different perspectives allow various directions of analysis, since all the relevant knowledge is accumulated within the team. A less diverse team runs the risk of overlooking major issues or problems because of a lack of relevant knowledge.

Cross-functional teams may function in the long or short-term, depending upon the types of products for which they are assembled. Stennes (n.d.) points out that the very strength of this type of team in terms of its diversity could also be a primary weakness. In terms of interpersonal relationships, it could be difficult to maintain a productive work ethic among so many different perspectives and attitudes. This is where the team leader can step in to ensure the optimal collective functioning of the team.

One function of the team leader should be that obstacles are mitigated. One such obstacle could geography, where cross-functional teams work virtually. Time zones and vast differences could, for example, be at the core of managing stability and effectiveness. It is also critical to ensure that communications technology works correctly in order to ensure that team members are in regular communication with each other. It is the function of the leader to ensure that team meetings occur without any glitches, and that backup systems are in place in case of any difficulty.

In a cross-functional team, it is also the leader's function to establish the goals, objectives, deadlines, and success criteria for the team and to ensure that each team member understands these. Each team member should also be made fully aware of his or her role in helping the team achieve success (Stennes, n.d.).

The importance of distinguishing between the development team and the cross-functional team has also been emphasized (Pragmatic Marketing, 2011). When product managers consider the concept of teamwork, the cross-functional team functions on a much broader basis than the product development team. The former, for example, can act as representative of the entire company and its various departments in terms of customer and partner relationships. They can divert the communications pressure from the leadership team and handle public inquiries that do not specifically require the input of a leadership representative.

Myshko (2006) suggests that creating a successful cross-functional team is one of the most difficult challenges a team leader may face. In this light, she offers suggestions towards a model of success for such teams. Team leaders then function to implement such models by means of various actions. The first of these is motivation. Each team member, regardless of his or her organizational or departmental function, should be shown the importance of the collective goals and specific contributions of the team towards these goals. Secondly, senior executives should be engaged to help the team overcome its obstacles.

Effective communication is at the heart of effective cross-functional teams. The differences in culture, geographic divides, and company borders need to be managed effectively to ensure open communication at all times. At the heart of effective communication is the paradigm of shared goals. These can be used as a basis for building collaboration in a setting where little beyond these common goals can function as a meeting ground for team members.

The manager's work is therefore at the heart of effective cross-functional teams. A mentioned, the main challenge is diversity. It is more likely than not that there will be more divisions than similarities within cross-functional teams. Hence, the commonality of goals needs to be emphasized in order to help the team move forward. The team manager, then, should place emphasis on the common goals and interests of the collective group.

If conflicts arise based on divergent personalities or cultures, the manager should therefore reemphasize the need for a common focus on the projected function of the team, whether this be as collective representation of the company as a whole, developing a specific product in the short-term, or whatever the function of the team may be.

Regardless of whether the cross-functional team works in the short or long-term, and regardless of its specific goals and objectives, a common truth remains that effective leadership focuses on reaching common goals rather than emphasizing conflict management, which is based on differences.

Self-Directed Teams

According to the RCG University, self-directed teams are very much like cross-functional teams, in that they involve individuals with multiple skills who share a common responsibility such as creating a specific service or product, or acting as a representative collective. The central difference, however, is that a self-directed team is empowered to take full responsibility for the results they achieve.

The basis of this team paradigm is empowerment towards better functioning. In other words, when people are empowered by means of authority and responsibility, they function better in the work environment. The effect they have on their part in the business can act as a powerful motivator to make effective and creative decisions. As such, they take responsibility for their actions without being encumbered by the bureaucracy that often serves little beyond wasting time and diminishing value. Hence, value is added to the organization by means of common goals that create quality and service. In theory, this emphasis on quality is also a means of avoiding and overcoming interpersonal conflict. Because of the high emphasis on responsibility and effective decision-making, there is less time for such interpersonal issues. Furthermore, a significant advantage of self-directed teams is the relief of pressure on management itself. Leaders who do not constantly need to engage in leadership for teams are free for other, more pressing duties. In general, this ha the potential to significantly improve the productivity of the company in general.

One challenge that managers need to overcome in creating self-directed teams is the general view of organizations, which still very much subscribes the hierarchical structure of leadership. In other words, these models tend to emphasize a military type chain of command, in which top management not only has the final right of decision-making, but also carries the overall responsibility of team management. In other words, decisions are made at the top management level, while lower-level employees are expected to carry these out without question. Hence, the right of decision making in companies is one that is perceived to be earned. This makes it difficult to change such paradigms as a result of an inherent resistance to a change that would remove this right from a select view and offer it to all employees.

Nevertheless, the overall advantages of self-directed teams are undeniable. One of these, according to the RCG University (1999), is the increase of competitiveness. This is achieved by means of saving throughput time form order entry to shipment. Self-directed team work serves as a compressing device for the time it takes to create and sell products. Despite resistance to change, including teams like these in an organization therefore makes sense on all levels of management.

However, the advantages of such teams do not extend only to the collective revenue of the company. It also extends on a more particular level to managers themselves. This is a good point to emphasize in order to overcome resistance to change. In their study of the effect on managers using self-directed teams as opposed to those who do not, Merritt and Reynolds (n.d.) have found that managers who do use such teams are not only more committed to the private club industry, they also enjoy a higher level of organizational tenure than managers who do not. Hence, even though the power of decision making is somewhat diluted from the viewpoint of managers, this does create a platform for more emphasis on other managerial functions. Furthermore, the importance of the leadership position is not diminished, but rather changes according to the necessities… [END OF PREVIEW]

on Organizational Behavior and Management Case Study


Human Resources Is Organizational Behavior Term Paper


Orgazational Behavoir Organizational Behavior: Mcdonalds Essay


Organizational Behavior Modern Organizations Are Constantly Trying Thesis


Org Behavior Organizational Behavior, Culture, Diversity, Communication Term Paper


View 1,000+ other related papers  >>

Cite This Case Study:

APA Format

Organizational Behavior and Team Building.  (2011, October 26).  Retrieved November 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/organizational-behavior-team-building/2652281

MLA Format

"Organizational Behavior and Team Building."  26 October 2011.  Web.  19 November 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/organizational-behavior-team-building/2652281>.

Chicago Format

"Organizational Behavior and Team Building."  Essaytown.com.  October 26, 2011.  Accessed November 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/organizational-behavior-team-building/2652281.