In large companies, it often happens that it is necessary to make emergency marketing decisions, and for this purpose, project teams gather. Evaluating the performance of the project team is a critical factor in determining whether it is possible to solve the assigned tasks. Formed teams go through several stages of life during their work, and interpersonal conflicts are inevitable. Effective communication helps to shift priorities from destructive discussions to the task at hand. In this work, a case study will be discussed on how productive the activities of the Denson formed team are.
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Effective Teams (10% of paper per the rubric)
The main question in this section is whether the team assembled by Bernie Hollins and Pete Denson is effective or not. Before that, it should be determined what is meant by an effective team. According to Schermerhorn and Uhl-Bien (2014), there are several criteria for an effective team: the existence of a common goal that enables the organization to achieve its objectives; the satisfaction of each participant by accepting their interests; and the overall viability of the team, implying a common interest and structure. Evaluation of the group’s performance is a complex, systematic activity that requires regular analysis (Haas & Mortensen, 2016). The team assembled by management on an emergency basis is currently not effective. The team structure violates the criterion of members’ satisfaction since the personal problems of Katarina Tanney are ignored (Grand Canyon University, 2020). Instead of offering prompt solutions to her question to switch to the main task, the leader, Peter Denson, ignores the interests of the members.
Tuckman’s Five Stages (10%)
It is not possible to expect the employees of a new team to start working effectively from the moment they meet each other. Team-building takes time, and participants often go through known stages, gradually transforming from a group of strangers into a cohesive team with common goals (Natvig & Stark, 2016). There are five stages: formation, conflict, normalization, functioning, and separation (Schermerhorn & Uhl-Bien, 2014). The formation stage is characterized by general optimism and excitement, as the team members do not yet understand what tasks have to be solved. At this stage, Pete brings participants together to discuss the agenda. The conflict phase marks a period of first setbacks: each employee’s work style becomes apparent. In this example, Tanney is experiencing emotional difficulties, and her colleagues do not support her (Grand Canyon University, 2020). In the next stages, Pete’s team has yet to move on. Conflicts dissipate during the rationing phase when participants have a better understanding of the team’s mission and commitments. The operational phase means the already established structure of the team going towards the goal. The last step, the breakup phase, can have a painful effect on the staff, as it means stopping work on the project in a close-knit team.
Behavioral Roles (6%)
The roles described by E. Schein (2017) include a friendly assistant, a fierce fighter, and an objective thinker. A helpful assistant is usually dependent on other team members. Such a team member seeks the support of his colleagues and tries to smooth out any sharp angles. John Mahoney is an example of this role because he tried to neutralize the conflict between the participants, inspiring all of them with their uniqueness and value to the company. Lea Jing is an example of an objective thinker, a man who often indulges in reflection, behaves quite passively, but also tries not to lose his way. The image of a fierce fighter is typical for two team members at once: Denson and Tanney. Wrestlers usually come into conflict when their expectations are not met, or personal interests are not met.
Effective Communication (9%)
It is difficult to call the communication within this meeting effective, as it immediately indicated the conflicts between the parties. When communicating effectively, team leaders must listen to their subordinates, and management must make employees aware that their interests and concerns are essential (Osborne & Hammoud, 2017). However, the opposite trend is observed: Denson has absolutely no interest in the difficulties encountered by a colleague. Effective communication contributes to more cohesive work, mutual understanding, division of tasks and responsibilities, and optimization of business relationships. For example, the necessary materials were emailed to participants in advance, but only one person prepared (Grand Canyon University, 2020). This may indicate an irresponsible approach by employees to work that does not facilitate effective communication.
Types of Conflict (5%)
Psychologists tend to identify many types of conflict with very different consequences. However, the two basic types of conflicts identified in the textbook are functional and dysfunctional (Schermerhorn, 2014). Functional conflict is defined as a constructive discussion that leads to improved organizational effectiveness. In functional conflict, opponents do not go beyond ethical standards, work together to find solutions to emerging issues, and consider reasonable arguments. The opposite is exact for dysfunctional negative conflict. According to Schermerhorn (2014), it leads to a decrease in personal satisfaction, destroys group cooperation. Case study analysis reveals only one major conflict: dysfunctional. It occurs at the moment when every employee finds himself in a situation of severe time constraints. The team was assembled in an emergency, and the group has only six weeks to implement projects. This may be enough, but the team members have been under stress for a long time. In the end, this resulted in an open conflict between Peter Denson and Katharina Tanney.
Conflict Management (5%)
An Indirect Method of Control
Indirect conflict management methods are characterized by the fact that they exclude direct interaction with the individual. One of the best management methods to prevent a dysfunctional conflict that Denson can use is to explain what results are expected from an employee or group. To motivate his discussions, Denson can have consequences if the team does not cope with its task: hundreds of employees will be at risk of dismissal.
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A Direct Method of Control
As a rule, direct conflict resolution can only take place when the emotional causes of the conflict can be identified. It seems evident that a team that has just been assembled and is still at the stage of conflict is not cohesive, and each participant does not perceive the interests of colleagues. If Denson decides to use pressure and authority, the dispute between the participants will only worsen. Instead, it is proposed to collaborate and structure working hours so that each participant can be present and work productively.
Task, Maintenance and Dysfunctional Activities (10%)
The right atmosphere is created through concrete leadership activities that include the active submission of ideas. This involves discussion, and therefore functional conflict. In other words, the team needs to continue communicating so that each member of the team is involved in the process and each person has the opportunity to express their thoughts and ideas. In the future, the range of different thoughts and ideas will be able to merge, the images will be one path for the team to follow. The described task sets the project team facing a big problem related to time and technical resources. With prolonged management pressure and lack of time, combined with the oppressive responsibility of firing hundreds of employees, each team member is unable to demonstrate high efficiency. The conflict between Denson and Katharina only contributes to the collapse of the team. For this reason, it is proposed to reconcile their differences so that the team can show cohesion. Thus, both activities will include universal support, finding differences, and working together.
Motivation Issues and Theories (15%)
The need to motivate employees to be cohesive and make effective decisions is a fundamental theory of motivation. The biggest problem faced by employees within a team is the fear of failure and lack of motivation. Based on the principles of McClelland’s motivational theory, Denson must satisfy Lea’s need to achieve his goals (Schermerhorn & Uhl-Bien, 2014). At the moment, she probably does not see any sense in participating in the team activities, because she knows exactly what she will leave. Jing initially focuses on the fact that her term in this position will end before the project. Tanney, who clearly expressed her problem, expected support from colleagues, but instead received a disregard for her interests (Grand Canyon University, 2020).
Guided by the concept of process theory, Denson could have allowed Tanney to do her part of the job in the way she felt comfortable with, but with the condition that Katarina would do her best. Mahoney tried to express his support, but it seems that he is not entirely convinced that the team will have a decent result. For Mahoney, Denson could use the theory of positive reinforcement, for example, by supporting John’s words about the uniqueness of the selected employees (Osborne & Hammoud, 2017). Positive reinforcement to create a positive atmosphere for future employee decisions. Motivation has a significant impact on the ability to participate and discuss. As a leader, Denson needs to focus on encouraging colleagues to show them that their interests and concerns are essential. The company has absolute trust in its chosen employees, and they have all the tools they need, including money and time. Therefore, participants must do everything possible to prevent any destructive conflicts.
In conclusion, it is worth repeating that the result of the project depends directly on the selected team. Communication of colleagues should be sufficient, and employees should communicate and understand each other correctly. To solve the problem, they need to deal with the issues of the motivation of each participant, but before that, resolve the specific difficulties that exist within the team. Each participant should feel part of a cohesive team with a shared mission, and only then will the project activity be most productive.
Grand Canyon University. (2020). West Coast Transit Case Study, 1-2.
Haas, M., & Mortensen, M. (2016). The secrets of great teamwork. Harvard Business Review, 94(6), 70-76.
Natvig, D., & Stark, N. L. (2016). A project team analysis using Tuckman’s model of small-group development. Journal of Nursing Education, 55(12), 675-681.
Osborne, S., & Hammoud, M. S. (2017). Effective employee engagement in the workplace. International Journal of Applied Management and Technology, 16(1), 50-67.
Schein, E. H. (2017). Organization development: A Jossey-Bass reader. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Schermerhorn, J. (2014). Exploring management (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
Schermerhorn, J., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2014). Organizational behavior (13th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.