Not All Teams Are Created Equal’
Review Case Study 11-1, ‘Not All Teams Are Created Equal’
Review Case Study 11-1, ‘Not All Teams Are Created Equal’, on pages 309-310 of the text. In order to make the system described more effective, identify possible revisions and/or additions to each component of the PM process.
Performance Management (PRFMNG)
Week 6: Developing personal and group capabilities
Personal development planning
Modern business operates in a constantly changing market environment in which technology levels the playing field for all producers, while at the same time providing customers with total knowledge of what is on offer (D’Aveni, R. A. (1994) Hypercompetition: managing the dynamics of strategic maneuvering. New York: The Free Press). The rapidly changing nature of demand and immediate availability of both information and the latest technologies means that only the most adaptable and dynamic players can survive, and then only by constant innovation. Such an approach is almost entirely dependent upon having a flexible and creative workforce capable of responding quickly and effectively to new demands from inherently unpredictable markets. Performance management clearly has a central role in identifying where improvement programmes are required, coming up with development plans, and monitoring the effects of training.
Preparing individual developmental plans is a key part of the performance management process. Employees identify how they can improve performance in their existing jobs, resolve any previously identified problems, and prepare themselves for enhanced responsibilities or maybe advancement to a higher level. Objectives are agreed upon and tied to improvement programmes, including such elements as on-the-job training courses, self-guided reading, mentoring, attending conferences, getting higher degrees, and so on. Your textbook provides a lot of detail about what should be included in a development plan, and a useful example of the process from General Mills, an international foods company based in Minneapolis. In most company performance management systems, supervisors are expected to work with employees in the creation and completion of their development plans to ensure that they are aligned with the strategy of the organisation and stay within budgetary restraints. The role of supervisors is well illustrated in the case of the beverage company, Diageo.
Feedback is obviously important in providing employees with information and coaching on their current work and ways to improve their future performance. The 360 degree feedback system is a process in which employees receive confidential (and anonymous) feedback from the people who work around them, including line managers and supervisors, team colleagues and subordinates, and
sometimes even suppliers and customers. This is known as ‘multirater feedback’. The methodology has been around for a long time, but has become much more generally used in business organisations since the 1990s. These days there are software packages available for supporting 360 degree assessments, some of which provide statistically validated tools and standard questionnaires. The textbook gives a list of vendors and product descriptions and reviews the CheckPoint package to illustrate the main features of such systems.
The advantages and the risks involved in implementing 360 degree feedback systems are well covered in your textbook. The case of AAH Pharmaceuticals provides examples of some of the elements that help to make such systems work effectively and Case Study 8-3 reviews the implementation of 360 degree feedback at Ridge Intellectual, a graphics design firm.
The importance of teams
‘Knowledge workers’ constitute a growing proportion of the labour force. They work most effectively in teams that operate with a high degree of independence. When they identify with the overall aims and objectives of the business, some teams and networks of teams can operate nearly autonomously. Knowledge workers often manage their own schemes of performance measurement and work out their own targets. They derive professional, monetary, and status rewards from achieving improvements and innovations that make the whole organisation more effective at seizing strategic opportunities.
Internet technology has removed the barriers of distance between team members. Workers in ‘virtual’ organisations may operate in teams where they rarely meet the other members except online. Modern project management and networking software makes it possible, even simple, to brainstorm ideas in live video-conferences or in a forum or chat room where files can be exchanged and a common whiteboard can be used for displaying ideas instantly. Team members may be based in different countries, continents, and time zones. This not only opens up the possibility of teams that can operate around the clock, it also means that the different parts of a global organisation can work together seamlessly. These new ways of working can bring about massive gains in productivity and cross-fertilise creative ideas from very different cultural and business environments.
Issues in team performance management
The journal article this week looks at the whole question of team effectiveness and how it can be measured and improved. It stresses the importance of using reward systems effectively to encourage behaviours that help the team achieve its goals and inhibit those that hamper progress. However, as any performance management executive knows, the area of remuneration and rewards is the most sensitive and potentially explosive area to tamper with. It could be argued that
managing team performance improvement successfully depends on having an intimate knowledge and clear understanding of the work being undertaken, the difficulties to be overcome and the networks involved in achieving the objectives. However, the fact is that many teams are working on complex problems requiring highly developed skills and in areas that are relatively unexplored. It may not be practical to expect non-team members to gain an expert knowledge of the work in hand but it is possible to come up with factors that indicate, or are necessary for, good performance
The article presents eight principles of effective team measurement, which are adopted from Jones, S. D., & Schilling, D. J. (2000) Measuring team performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. These include the need to ensure that team goals and objectives are clearly aligned with the organisation’s strategy, that team members understand their performance will be evaluated, that internal and external customers should be involved in establishing the team’s accountability, and that individual performance within the team should be measured. The article then goes on to suggest criteria for assessing the effectiveness of certain key functions of teamwork, such as meetings, decision-making, and implementation. ‘Team health’ is also put forward as an appropriate factor to be measured and the criteria for this include such things as respect for each other, pride in the work, mutual support, cohesiveness, and conflict resolution. Just as with individual performance measurement, it seems that disaggregating activities into their component elements proves to be a very useful way to get at what actually makes for effective performance.
Measuring and rewarding team performance
Your textbook offers three practical examples of team performance management. The fast-food chain business Whataburger holds a kind of fast-food Olympic Games twice a year with cash prizes and medals awarded to restaurant workers by corporate owners and senior management. The database server and software company MySQL holds virtual and real-time meetings via an Internet chat relay. Employee involvement is monitored electronically and an in-house system allows employees to check off completed tasks. Wikipedia is set up to allow volunteers to monitor and evaluate each other’s work. There is an interesting dispute-resolution process, which includes appeals and mediation.
Dr. Aguinis believes that team rewards can be based on the same principles as individual performance rewards, i.e., all employees should be eligible, and rewards should be visible, contingent, and reversible. In addition to performance rewards, he sees a place for self-financed bonuses for specific achievements, efficiency improvements, or cost-savings.