Major issues impacting team performance
(Please note: This case is comprised of two parts,. Please be sure to address questions related to both parts separately in your paper. This can be designated through the use of headings/subheadings, such as Responses to Part 1; Responses to Part 2):
Karen, the New Manager Introduction: Karen was recently promoted to a first level supervisor from her team leader position. Karen was promoted into a position in which she would manage coders, engineers, systems developers and a clerk. In all, the group numbers 14 plus the clerks. Karen was looking forward to this opportunity. Although she was used to working with programmers and systems engineers in a software development company, this would be her first opportunity to work as an "official" manager.
The mission of the organization (and Karen’s software team): We provide quality software solutions to improve the performance of our customers.
1) To lead industry standards for high quality software
2) To interact effectively with our customers and with each other, focusing on strong working relationships and effective communication
3) To have the right people in the right places at the right time for effective processes, procedures and outcomes
4) To be ethical in all of our transactions The composition of Karen’s team, even before she started, was one of skilled individuals who are brought in to do specific functions; this is common in software development where people have different roles/specializations.
Typically, these roles are not interchangeable, however, people do often learn about the other functions and are able to some extent to help people in other roles to a small extent. The culture Karen has started to build includes more collaboration, friendlier working relationships and improved information exchanges so people have a better sense of what is going on throughout the organization in terms of work, deadlines, and progress - none of this was available before because everybody worked as an individual with no overlap. Her team members have appreciated the changes and like their one-on-one sessions where they can voice opinions and make suggestions, and have found Karen is more than willing to implement their suggestions whenever possible, and she allows the team input into decision making as often as she can.
Morale has improved somewhat as has job satisfaction since Karen took over the team.
Karen was anxious about her first day at work, because she had worked for this company for 10 years but was moving into a new department and didn't know anyone in her new group very well. She had a nodding acquaintance with some of the members as she passed them at the water fountain, going to lunch and getting coffee, but knew that she had to effectively start over in some areas and establish herself and her leadership.
Strategy to address each major issue
She knew from casual conversation with other employees that there were issues with morale and job satisfaction, partly because of the lack of trust with the previous supervisor. One of the concerns that she had prior to her promotion and based on the company grapevine was that the previous supervisor of her new team had moved on because of something that happened in the group.
Employees who knew about an event that had precipitated the departure of the supervisor were few, and there were multiple stories circulating about why the previous supervisor left. However, Karen understood that information from the grapevine can be unreliable, so she will wait to see if this is an issue. Once she became the supervisor, one of Karen’s concerns was that the majority of the group consisted of people her age (40) or older.
While the clerks are in their 20s, everyone else was over 40, except for the four employees brought in recently. She knew she was looking at employees with different priorities, because they were at different places in their careers. The group was also somewhat diverse, and this included an even mix of men and women. Most were US citizens, and the rest had lived in the US for many years. More recent two arrivals included a man and a woman from India, and one arrival from the UK and another from China, both of whom were men who had been brought in on visas for specialized work within the last year.
In the first two weeks, Karen held one-on-one discussions with each team member so she could get to know each of one and ask them about what each person felt the team did well and what areas needed improvement. This helped her focus on each employee’s specific skills and areas in which they could contribute as well as giving her a full picture of problem areas. She felt positive this was the right approach after the interviews. However, when asked in a meeting, nobody was aware of the company mission.
While some of the team members knew there was a company mission, they didn't know what it was. Karen established weekly team meetings and noticed the first week there was little conversation between the team members. She attributed this to the fact that she was new, and they had to get to know her. When this continued in weeks two, three and four, Karen decided there was something else going on, because she had no sense of "team" from the members or that they supported each other based on the conversations in the team meetings.
Developing trust and cohesion
Not only this, team members appeared to have little understanding of how their work fit into the "big picture" of the company and even less information about how their projects contributed to the company goals. Now, foremost in Karen's mind, is the need to improve collaboration and cohesion and to develop a team that is capable of performing at high levels because of the contracts and deadlines looming within the next 12 months. Part of this task includes the need to share information about how the team supports organizational goals.
As a result, she is determined to make sure team members understand their roles in the company's success. She is also intent on building trust and cohesion, both of which will enhance morale and job satisfaction according to some of the articles that she has read. She wants to lay out a plan to help coach her employees into becoming a high performing team. Karen will begin with information about the mission and the goals followed by a focus on developing trust and cohesion. Karen wonders how she is going to accomplish all of this without sacrificing productivity.
Assume you are Karen. Your assignment is to develop a plan to present to your manager to improve the team’s performance.
1. Identify and describe (in detail) 3 to 5 major issues with the team that you think might be adversely impacting the overall performance of the group.
2. Develop and describe (in detail) a specific strategy you would utilize to address each of the 3-5 major issues you’ve identified. These strategies should specifically address how you would plan to develop trust and cohesion.
In completing this section of the writing assignment, you should use information from course materials including, but not limited to, text, articles, and videos as they relate to trust and cohesion, and check the Library Guide for reading, or look in the library for other articles. What else was mentioned that needs to be included in your plans/activities?
Writing Assignment Case-Part 2 Karen, the New Supervisor Karen proposed her plan for teambuilding approximately six months ago and her manager approved the entire plan, allowing the equivalent of eight hours (one workday) once a month for the activities detailed in the plan for a maximum of six days.
She implemented her plan about four months ago, after arranging the necessary time off from work, meeting with an internal consultant from Human Resources, developing goals, reviewing the content of the teambuilding sessions and deciding how to measure outcomes. So far she has used three days for teambuilding. For each day of teambuilding, Karen has used a simple questionnaire that everybody completes, it consists of three questions which focus specifically on the activities for that day.
Those three questions are: 1. What went well? 2. What could be improved? 3. What else should be included? She decided to use the questionnaires for the training days so she would have a record of what everybody said, even though she does not request they put their names on the one-page form. After three training days she has received mostly positive comments related to getting to know other people better. Karen has also observed that this is reflected in the workplace behaviors, as her team members do interact more, ask questions of each other and offer solutions.
Karen has also noticed that the team members will discuss the results that are posted on the walls and they check these at least once a week, and these results come up in the weekly team meetings as part of the normal conversation. Team members started to help each other meet deadlines so the charge would reflect positive progress for the entire group; she felt this was a positive step in the right direction for the team.
One of the contracts assigned to the team was completed after the second teambuilding day. Karen requested feedback from the business unit that received the product which consisted of the same three questions she used for the teambuilding sessions, as well as confirmation that the delivery date was met and the product was working as required. For this particular contract, the actual delivery date missed the due date requested by two days but this was not a problem for the customer because their internal dates had changed due to requirements beyond their control.
As a result, the feedback was mostly positive with a note about the missed due date. Karen is very encouraged by this, as this is one of the first measures received since she has been the supervisor and it is the first time any measure has been taken to evaluate customer satisfaction. Karen decides that she is going to use a survey she found on the Internet that evaluates team effectiveness at the halfway point in the teambuilding sessions.
This means she will hand out the survey (team members do not have to sign their names) before the next teambuilding day which will be day four. She also plans to hand out this survey after they have completed all six of the teambuilding days and then compare the results. Along with this information, the feedback from the customers and her training feedback (three questions), Karen believes she has adequate information to assess team performance.
With this performance information she can more accurately determine if other training is needed, if other areas need attention, and she has a way to track performance improvement for her team by using these measures as well as the weekly charts the clerks post on the walls. The results for the Team Effectiveness questionnaire are tabulated by clerk, and Karen sees that although many of the areas are either positive or close to positive, she notices that there may be some weaknesses around areas A, F and G, with one weak item in C; she is determined to find out specifically what the issues might be in this area so she can support the team to make improvements.
All of the team member responses were grouped around certain areas, there were no ‘outliers’. As a result, Karen told the clerk to consolidate all of the information into the completed Team Effectiveness Survey so the areas could be easily identified and shared with the team. In this way the team can provide discussion and input into the content of the teambuilding sessions before they are completed and the survey is distributed again.
Team Effectiveness Survey Results for Writing Assignment.docx Download Team Effectiveness Survey Results for Writing Assignment.docx
1. Using the information from Part 1 as necessary, analyze the survey data (attached) and determine what needs to be addressed in the three remaining teambuilding sessions. Support your analysis with information provided in the case 1.
Based on the Team Effectiveness survey data (attached), present and support an analysis of what the team’s strengths are and where improvements can be made. Use the data provided on the completed Team Effectiveness Survey, (summary data is provided below). Justify why you feel that these issues or areas in need of improvement should be priorities for the team.
(Note: Please focus on the root causes of issues in the team and not on symptoms. A focus on symptoms will not address the basic problems).
2. Based on the course information (text, videos, articles), propose a specific strategy or method (in detail) you would use in addressing each of priorities for improvement you’ve identified. In your response, please include rationale or justification for why you feel that each of the strategies you’ve identified will be effective.
3. Organizations and senior leadership have a responsibility to support and encourage team leaders in their respective roles in an effort to promote effective team performance. In this specific case, identify 2 or 3 specific things the organization or Karen’s direct leader/supervisor could have done to support Karen in her role as a new team leader. Please justify each of these suggestions by supporting why or how you think each could have been valuable to Karen and the overall performance of the team.
In completing this section of the writing assignment, you should use information from course materials including, but not limited to, text, articles, and videos as they relate to trust and cohesion, and check the Library Guide for reading, or look in the library for other articles. What else was mentioned that needs to be included in your plans/activities? General Information to keep in mind: When working with teams, there is no "silver bullet" answer or one right way to do everything, because it depends on the leadership, the employees, the situation, and even what has happened in the past.
This is why, when a plan is developed, we need to consider the literature, prior experiences, and the experiences/wisdom of others. We also need to consider the given situation as well as the culture of the organization, the style of the group leader and the culture of the team. For example, what appears to be a great idea may not fit with the style of the team leader or with the culture of the group or organization.