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Advantages of a Team-Based Organizational Structure

Question:

Discuss about the Disadvantages of Teamwork in the Workplace.

Formation of teams, their working, coordination, conflicts as well as collaboration is an important aspect of every organization (Ellis & Bach, 2015). Team work is not always easy to establish, however it is largely important for the expansion and growth of the organization (Costa & Anderson, 2017). This case study throws light on the team work at Sun Microsystems Inc. Global manager, Greg James, is responsible for a 45 member global team based out of France, UAE, India and Unites States. Greg is having a hard time in order to get the team to work in consensus and ensuring that they work together as a single unit. The Indians feel that their working hours are longer and their thoughts and opinions are disrespected. France employees feel that they are underpaid. UAE members feel they are distant from the parent company and have shown a fear of become reportable to the Indian team. And lastly, the US team has depicted discomfort with the high number of vacations availed by their France counterparts. This report has laid emphasis on the advantages and disadvantages that accompany a team based organizational structure and the recommendations that Sun microsystems can avail in order to improvise coordination and bring consensus to the global team led by Greg James. 

A team based organizational structure involves forming of various teams on the basis of departments, sectors of work, geography or designation. This kind of an organizational structure has various advantages as given below:

Working together as a team leads to the generation of new ideas. When a number of people brainstorm on a single subject, everyone can provide a different idea as every person has a different perspective to a single situation. This global perspective assists organizations in improved growth and better solutions to organization’s problems (Kirugi, 2015). The case has demonstrated a global team spread over 4 countries and 45 employees. It is only natural that the diverse nature, working background and culture of the team members would bring new ideas to the table.

Team work leads to increased innovation as fresher generations of ideas. It leads to overall growth and development of the team members (Carpini, Flemming & Parker, 2015). Members can learn from one another and hence increase their efficiency (Putra & Fibra, 2016). This in turn leads to satisfied employees and improved performance of the team. Every team members from different parts of the world would be able to learn different ways and aspects of the business. 

Disadvantages of a Team-Based Organizational Structure

Working in team leads to accomplishments of organizational goals in a much faster manner as compared to members performing their tasks individually. Every member of the team can contribute their bit and lead to quicker completion of goals (Hazel, Heberle, McEwen & Adams, 2013). If proper coordination in the team persists then there are various advantages of this global team in Sun Microsystems. The organization is able to serve various customers across different parts of the world, across different time zones and all times is only owing to a widespread presence of Sun Microsystem employees in different countries.

In a diversified team especially a geographically diverse team, it is often difficult to coordinate with one another owing to different time zones that the employees work in. It is increasingly difficult to establish contact and hence leads to unnecessary delay. In the case of Sun Microsystems as well, it has been noticed that the Indian employees have often complained about longer working hours.

Whenever there is team work, there is often a lot of blame game involved. This indicates that members of the team face increasing conflicts due to delayed communication, difficulty in establishing contact, lack of respect or even unequal participation (Joseph, 2015). In the case study, we have seen that the job roles of employees are still not clear and in case of a discrepancy they resort to blaming each other rather than working together to solve the problem faced. 

There are people in the team who work hard and there are employees who leave it on the rest of the team members to perform the tasks. This leads to unequal participation in the team which causes frustration among performing employees and lethargy among non-performers. The personal goals of the people in the team may also vary leading to unequal participation (Currie, Gormley, Roche & Teague, 2017). The case study also brings to attention that the US employees feel an increased work load due to higher number of vacations taken by their France counterparts.

Due do delayed communication, lack of coordination and reduced consensus among the team members, the decisions taken by the team as a whole take longer. This in turn leads to delay in accomplishment of organizational goals. The H S Holdings conflict explained in the case could have been resolved much sooner if the team members were better coordinated.

The members of Greg’s team are all well qualified and highly talented employees. Therefore the business does not need a complete overhaul rather just a few small changes to bring about more coordination among the members. Looking at the increasing problems faced by Greg James in managing his team, the following recommendations have been listed. The aim of these recommendations is to improve communication, bring in consensus and increase coordination among the team members:

Recommendations to Enhance Communication and Coordination Among Team Members

In order to increase coordination, the team members from across all the locations must be invited to the headquarters in United States. This could be achieved by creating turns and each employee could be invited for a week in every six months. This would also build an increased sense of ownership among employees and bring them in line with the head office’s organizational culture and their long term goals. The Indian team has 16 members. If all of them were to visit the headquarters for a week in 6 months, it will ensure that throughout the year, one of the Indian team mate would be in Santa Clara. This would lead to efficiency in communication and faster delivery of targets.

Presentations and seminars must be conducted across all the locations which lay importance at understanding different cultures of various members of the team. This would lead to enhanced knowledge of culture and would enable the team members to respect each other more (Cramton & Hinds, 2014). This would in turn cause an increased coordination and improved understanding of each other (Alvesson, 2016). Greg must personally oversee these presentations and ensure their impact is effective enough to bring about increased coordination and respect within the team.

Conference call timings must be made slightly more flexible. It is understandable that it is increasingly difficult to bring about a consensus in conference call timings that suit all the members of the team. However, slight flexibility is possible and it must be implemented. Two different timings of the conference calls could be finalized which would be implemented on alternate weeks.

Country

Current Time (Time 1)

Proposed Time (Time 2)

India

20:30 IST

18:30

France

17:00

15:00

UAE

19:00

17:00

USA

8:00

6:30

Both the work timings could be implemented in alternate weeks. This would require the American team mates to report earlier one day in two weeks. However, this must be implemented as the Indian counterparts report to work by 6:30 every day. This would demonstrate flexibility and respect among the team in general.

Sun microsystems must establish a clear hierarchy among employees for them to understand who they report to. UAE team has expressed the fear of being subordinated by the India team. This fear must be resolved as Greg personally must ensure and specify the importance as well as independency of the UAE team time and again.

There must be a deep respect for every member of the team. Strict action must be taken against members if they are seen disrespecting each other (Richter, Clarke & Fernandez, 2014). At the same point of time, any issues brought forward by the employees that involve feeling disrespected must be addressed by Greg in a serious manner.

Conclusion

Sun microsystems has a global team spanned over four countries (US, UAE, India & France) led by Greg James. The team is facing various issues owing to different cultures, geographical locations and lack of coordinated communication. This is hampering the performance of the team as a whole and adversely impacting the level of service provided to prestigious clients.

Greg James has put in immense efforts in establishing this team across four location and does his best in ensuring complete coordination. Also, there are various advantages of having a team spread over various locations. The company executives are easily reachable by customers across the globe and at all times. Different cultural backgrounds and working experiences have also helped employees in garnering knowledge and enhancing productivity.

However, it is imperative that steps are taken on an urgent basis to ensure better performance and increased coordination in the future. It is recommended that Greg offers flexible timings for conference calls which could be implemented in alternate weeks, employees from other countries must be invited to spend at least a week every 6 months in the headquarters in order to get accustomed to the Sun culture and develop and sense of ownership. And lastly, training and induction seminars must be conducted across all the offices to enhance knowledge about each other’s culture in order to foster respect and understanding among employees. 

References

Alvesson, M. (Ed.). (2016). Organizational culture. Sage.

Carpini, J. A., Flemming, A., & Parker, S. K. (2015). Multidisciplinary team briefings: a way forward. Day Surgery Australia, 14(2), 12.

Costa, A. C., & Anderson, N. (2017). Team Trust. The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of Team Working and Collaborative Processes, 393-416.

Cramton, C. D., & Hinds, P. J. (2014). An embedded model of cultural adaptation in global teams. Organization Science, 25(4), 1056-1081.

Currie, D., Gormley, T., Roche, B., & Teague, P. (2017). The management of workplace conflict: Contrasting pathways in the HRM literature. International Journal of Management Reviews, 19(4), 492-509.

Ellis, P., & Bach, S. (2015). Leadership, management and team working in nursing. Learning Matters.

Hazel, S. J., Heberle, N., McEwen, M. M., & Adams, K. (2013). Team-based learning increases active engagement and enhances development of teamwork and communication skills in a first-year course for veterinary and animal science undergraduates. Journal of veterinary medical education, 40(4), 333-341.

Joseph, C. (2015). The Disadvantages of Teamwork in the Workplace. Demand Media.

Kirugi, M. (2015). Advantages of Teamwork.

Putra, S., & Fibra, A. (2016). Teamwork as an Innovation Generator: An Analysis of Project Hatchery at Binus University International. Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities.

Richter, A. W., Clarke, R., & Fernandez, R. (2014, January). Strong Ties and Team Interdependence: A Social Network Approach to Dyadic Team Effectiveness. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2014, No. 1, p. 14558). Academy of Management.

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