Monday, March 29, 2010
In the article by Tom Gerety, he distinguished between advocates and the devil’s advocates. Advocates teach what they themselves believe in while devil’s advocates teaches against either what they believe in or what they think their students believe in. Gerety says that teachers often play the devil’s advocate because they don’t want their students to be too easily convinced before examining all sides of the issues. An important quote in the article was "I would not lead you into the promised land if I could because if I could lead you in someone else could lead you out." (Gerety, 1999) This quote makes senses because if you’re easily convinced to side one way, you are also able to be easily convinced to sway another way. Engaging in activities that involve the devil’s advocate allows people to be less fickle in decision making and helps them to develop analytical skills. In situations like buying a car or a house, utilizing the devil’s advocate can help to minimize bad decisions.
GERETY, TOM. "The Moral Teacher: Advocate or Devil's Advocate?." Liberal Education 85.1 (1999): 34. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 30 Mar. 2010.
Now that we've defined the two types of goals lets go into the Goal-Setting Process.
The first step, is simply to set an initial goal. They're cannot be a process to a goal, without an actual goal to accomplish. A key note to remember is that goals should be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Results Orientated (Rose 1). Goals should be very precise, able to measure in accordance to accomplishment, realistic, and "should focus on desired end results" (Rose 2).
The second step is to Promote Goal Commitment. This is important because employees are more motivated to pursue goals they as reasonable and fair.
The third step is to, Provide Support and Feedback. Without providing support tools for your employees improvement is a difficult achievement. This includes making sure that your employees have all the resources and tools necessary for them to complete their goals.
A last, and undefined step in the process is to give feedback. Feedback, provides value to your employees and can motivate them to work more efficiently, or even make completing goals more fun with the right steps.
Rose, Joni. "SMART Goal Setting." Suite 101.com May 21, 2006. http://trainingpd.suite101.com/article.cfm/smart_goal_setting.
The first stage of Tuckman's Model is forming. This initial step involves the group members to "break the ice" and get to know one another on a personal level. This is to make group decision process easier. This period is where you will find group members anxious to find such things as their roles in the group, and who is in charge.
Stage two is Storming. During this stage, members test the leaders policies, and try to determine where they individually fit into the "power structure" (Stages of Team Development). The biggest issue to overcome during this stage is the power struggle, along with coming to an agreement who is in charge.
The third stage is norming, where "rules, values, methods, and tools are established" (Stages of Team Development). This stage is where the identity of the group begins, and they can begin to work together.
The fourth step, performing is where all the planning and preparation finally gets put to use. This is a vital stage where group members should focus on solving task problems.
The last step, is adjourning. This is when the work has been completed. The group comes together and discusses the issues of the wok performed. Then the group "disassembles" and some feel a sense of loss after noting all the work they put into the project.
"Stages of Team Development." 12 Manage. The Executive Fast Track. 3/29/10.
The section I found most interesting in Chapter 11 is where they list the "four general types of work teams and their outputs."
The first type of team is a an Advice Team. Advice teams consist of committees, review panels, and advisory councils. These teams have a low degree of technical specialization, and a low degree of coordination with other work units. Advice teams normally output decisions or proposals.
The second type of team is a Production team who's degree of technical specialization is low, but degree of coordination with other work units is high. Production teams often work in cycles that contribute to a continuous process. They wok more on a day-to-day basis. Example of production teams are anything from customer service, to retail sales.
Project Teams are the third type of team Chapter 11 discusses. Projects require creativity to solve problems. They have a high degree of technical specialization and can have both low and high degree of coordination with other work units. This depends on if this group is a traditional unit (low), or a cross-functional unit (high).
The last type of team is an action team. Action teams, consist of sport teams, surgery teams and even entertainment groups. Action teams, have both a high degree of technical specialization and degree of coordination with other work units.
It's very interesting to note the different qualities that different teams consist of.
Mackin, Deoborah. "The Difference Between a Group and a Team." The Sideroad.
If I were able to spread by decision making through all four styles it would probably help me find better solutions that I normally would not come up with. I think that if I used a behavioral style instead of always being so analytical I could find different and sometimes even better decision making solutions. With a behavioral style of decision making I would be more open minded to new ideas and solutions. I think this is a big problem when it comes to my decision making skills because I can be close minded and always think I know the best way to solve a problem. Being more behavioral in my decision makign will also benefit me in group work. Sometimes I feel I do not always follow the group because I have my own ways of decision making and can be close minded.
Chapter 5 also continues to discuss the different types of group decision making methods. The first, is Brainstorming-a process to generate a quantity of ideas. The second, is the nominal group technique-process to generate ideas and evaluate solutions. Other group problem solving techniques included in chapter 5 are, the Delphi Technique and Computer-Aided Decision Making.
Hinsz, V.B., and G.S. Nickell. "Positive Reactions to Working in Groups in a Study of Group and Individual Goal Decision-Making." Group Dynamics 8 (2004): 253–264.
I did some additional research to find out which type of person goes where. Studies prove that the average age of a McDonald’s customer is 18-34, as for Starbucks the average age of a customer is between 35-44 years old. Income also plays a role in which goes where, people with incomes over $60,000 per year tend to go to Starbucks where as people with an income lower than $60,000 tend to buy McDonald’s products.
In an article, which was researched by a student at the University of Granada in Spain, she speaks about her approach in conductiong her research,which consisted of the Rational Model. Not only is the rational model useful for everyday decisions, but it is also useful when conducting important research. It is a basic outline when conducting any type of research. She explains how the, “The rational approach of attention purports to describe the ways in which the Human Visual System (HVS), which is what her study is about, actually does behave in making choices among possible locations of interest for allocating attention” (609). She also explains that “We are interested in the aspects of rationality that seem to be present in the decision making of the HVS” (613). She uses all four steps in the rational model in order to prove her problem and find an answer to her study. She also shows how important decision making is, which can be influenced by our areas of interest. This approach also applies to businesses and managers when they are faced with difficult decision making, especially when their decisions strongly affect other individual.
Source: García, J.A., et al. "Information visibility using transmission methods." Pattern Recognition Letters 31.7 (2010): 609-618. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 29 Mar. 2010.
Looking into the four types of decision making styles, I found another site that gave definitions to each that seemed close to the book's definitions. For the directive style, the site refers to the person with that type of style as having low tolerance for ambiguity and are efficient, rational, and logical in their way of thinking. Those people focus on the short term and decide based on minimal information and alternatives. For analytical decision makers, they have a higher tolerance for ambiguity than directive decision makers, and they enjoy more information and alternatives. Conceptual decision makers are generally more broad and consider all available alternatives, and they are focused on long term goals and are capable of creativity. The last one, which is the behavioral style, contains people who work well with others and are open to suggestions. Through all four, I definitely think that it is important to try and put all together in making a decision. It is important to find out information and alternatives as well as hear others' suggestions when working with a team.
Sources: - http://www.slideshare.net/adhirock/the-decision-making-process-172869
Sunday, March 28, 2010
When you're in an environment under pressure you make decisions quickly. This is the speed that characterizes this type of decision. How can we quickly take the right decision, is to decide under pressure.
The big difficulty in making a quick decision is that one is tempted to consider the issue with his own eyes. Everyone has been shaped by his upbringing, his culture and environment. Each brain reads the reality in a way and sort information in a unique way. We should therefore be particularly vigilant regarding the cultural filter.
In a second time to force them to acquire an overview of the problem, we will of course go to find information on the Internet, whose speed makes it a vital tool, but also look to our peers and to experts: consult experts can clarify the issue of limiting the scope of questioning. The principle: they have already faced similar problems. If this is not too complicated, benefit from their experience can save valuable time when we are in a hurry.
In any case, if we have two solutions, we must find the third. Otherwise there is a risk to limitate an early decision to evidence.
- Quiet space is necessary if you want to think by yourself
- You need to be freed from the multiple tasks you have to do, and to be given this time
- It is also necesary to share your creativenes by talking with the other employees
In the article I read, the author offers this advice "Leaders should not rely solely on intuitive judgments, nor on painstaking analyses. The key is to know how to choose. The more complex the decision, the more leaders need to supplement their hunches with investigation and analysis. But realizing that the brain is a maestro at recognizing patterns reminds them to respect their intuition as well."
Oftentimes we end up being guided by past experiences without being conscience of it. For example, in life, people often end up dating the same type of people and end up disappointed time and time again if their type is not 'good'. People buy the same type of products overtime too. When your sick, you automatically grab soup for dinner, instead of considering that bread may actually make your stomach feel better. It is important to train your mind to stop automatically going for the normal or comfortable. Yes, use your intuition to guide you, but don't let it be your ultimate solution because then nothing will ever change for the better (in your life or in a business).
Callahan, Lisa. "Blink or Think?." T+D 64.2 (2010): 68-69. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 28 Mar. 2010.
1) Understanding the problem
2) Everyone in the group offers ideas to help solve the problem
3) Everyone discusses the ideas and decided whether or not they agree. This is the time they also ask for people’s clarifications.
4) Everyone votes anonymously for their choices
According to research done by Ann McPhail, this technique can also be useful for students. She did a study on how it affected students’ opinions about physical education in their school. The school was having a difficult time with trying to gather the students’ opinions about exercising and what they should do for physical education. The researcher noted, “The quantitative data (rankings) from the NGT format allows the researchers to assess the strength that the statements (qualitative data) had in the pupils’ response to a specific research question. “ In other words, it gave more details about the students’ response. It surprised me how a nominal group technique can be beneficial in a class setting.
MacPhail, A. (2001). Nominal Group Technique: A Useful Method for Working with Young People. British Educational Research Journal , 161-170.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
In Power’s (2005) website, Simon claims that rational humans are satisficer and not optimizers by nature. According to Herbert Simon:
“The social sciences suffer from acute schizophrenia in their treatment of rationality. At one extreme, the economists attribute to economic man a preposterously omniscient rationality. Economic man has a complete and consistent system of preferences that allows him always to choose among the alternatives open to him; he is always completely aware of what these alternatives are; there are no limits on the complexity of the computations he can perform in order to determine what alternatives are best; probability calculations are neither frightening nor mysterious to him ... At the other extreme, are those tendencies in social psychology traceable to Freud that try to reduce all cognition to affect. Thus we show that coins look larger to poor children than to rich, that pressures of a social group can persuade a man he sees spots that are not there, that the process of group problem-solving involves accumulating and discharging tensions, and so on.”
This means that social sciences suffer from rationality because it constricts us to only think one way and therefore we fail to think outside of the box. It limits our intuition and only allows our problem-solving skills to be used which cause us to be easily influenced rather than using our own thoughts to make decisions. It makes people follows norms instead of being unique and embracing individuality.
Power, Daniel. Ask Dan! about DSS - How do decision-making models relate to the design and use of DSS? 6 August 2005. 27 March 2010
I probably shouldn't say the company's name, because I'm sure my employment there included some kind of nondisclosure agreement (because they knew the environment sucked), so I'll just call it Crappy & Slappy (no, it wasn't a law firm).
Crappy & Slappy made its money through a network of summer reading programs offered all over the country. Oddly enough, the programs usually approached five or six hundred dollars, and the areas that had the programs were often the poorest in the country (backwoods Louisiana, Tennessee, northeast Texas). My job was to answer the phone calls from people from all over the country, and con them into giving me their credit information.
About 40 new hires and I all trained together doing role-playing phone calls and such. On a related note, there is something you should know: whenever you call a phone number to a corporate call center like this one, you WILL NEVER get a straight answer from anyone. It's actually their job. Literally, I sat in front of a phone and a binder filled with responses to any question a customer could ask. My job was to BS them long enough to get their information.
So, in this environment, once we all had our cubicles and binders, none of us interacted. Ever. In fact, my boss, a short tan douche named Nolan (douche) discouraged us from even being in the break room together. He said, "here we focus on sales. That's it." As it turns out, people started quitting and getting fired (myself among the latter), primarily due to the miserable soul-crushing atmosphere of a job that discouraged interaction with anyone but the telephone. In fact, part of the job was comparing yourself to everyone else in the office, using tracking software that logs each call and sale. At the end of every month, they would "respectfully let go" all people outside of the top 80% of salespeople. This system sucked, because most people who called would get agitated and defensive when we followed the script and immediately asked them for their information. You'd then get a visit from Nolan, who is somehow capable of hearing every single phone call as it happens. Constantly having that troll breathing down your neck is enough to make you insane.
Granted, it would be difficult to turn a call center into a team-oriented atmosphere, but I definitely agree with the book's assessment that teamwork is vital to any company. The environment wasn't even cooperative. They actively made a good portion of the employees feel enslaved and hopeless. It was such an ineffective atmosphere, I'm surprised Crappy & Slappy is still in business (and they are).
So this brings me to a few concepts in chapter 11 in the book that this job completely failed to understand. First, there is socio-emotional cohesiveness, which is essentially a sense of togetherness in a group that comes from emotional satisfaction. Okay, this place actively CRUSHED our emotions. I don't think I ever saw someone smile in that place. There was no sense of togetherness based on emotional satisfaction, because we weren't really allowed to interact. That led to a lot of frustration and marginalized a lot of people's work. Second, instrumental cohesiveness was nonexistent in this place. This type of cohesiveness is characterized by a sense of togetherness that comes from mutual dependency in the workplace. We could barely count on management to let us off on time. We certainly couldn't rely on anyone else. Whether or not you made the sale was often entirely beyond your control. Some people called thinking they would make a purchase, and others called to ask questions and yell at us when we went into the sales pitch.
As I said before, it's understandably hard to imagine a call center having a solely team-oriented focus, but this environment made its employees feel constantly watched (which we were), and expendable (only 10% of salesmen are allowed to make it past one sales season). They motivated employees by working termination into the very fabric of employment, and forcing you to frantically focus on your own sales. This didn't make sense. We weren't allowed to help each other, and we became more demoralized as more employees were fired for their sales numbers and other nonsense. One person was fired because their average call length was a little longer than the target time of two minutes.
To be honest, after a while, none of us even trusted the company. We all felt that we were just a means to make sales and then get rid of. We all needed money, but this was demeaning, and a lot of people opted to quit rather than remain employed there. A number of people stormed out, claiming to report the company to various agencies. Having an environment where you don't trust your employer and can't interact with other employees is actually kind a scary idea.
Needless to say, this place doesn't want teams, they just want money.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Advantages of group-aided decisions:
1. greater pool of knowledge
2. different perspectives
3. gretaer comprehension
4. increased acceptance
5. training ground
Disadvantages of group-aided decisons:
1. social pressure
2. domination by a vocal view
4. goal displacement
A website that helps people go through this process with exercises and more information is on businessballs.com. It is a very helpful tool when you are stuck on which decsion to make about decision makinh methods.
"Problem solving and Decision Making." http://www.businessballs.com/problemsolving.htm
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
There is much debate to Maslow's Hierarchy. Some feel that it accurately defines human behavior and has "a high level of practicality" (Simons 1). Others, including myself, feel that human behavior evolves too quickly, and there are some many personality differences with human beings, there's no true way of prioritizing their needs nor their actions. Physiological needs of course are always the first priority when it comes to humans. Without water and food, it's impossible to survive. This however, is not the debate I wish to bring up. Its the last "needs" and how they are prioritized that I wish to discuss.
I don't no believe that its possible to prioritize human's needs, nor correlate it to human behavior. This was a very interesting read.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs."Janet A. Simons, Donald B. Irwin and Beverly A. Drinnien
West Publishing Company, New York, 1987
In the article, "Foster a Culture of Creativity", they have many tips how to boost creativity in the workplace. First, be careful not to be too critical when employees come up with ideas that aren't all the way there yet. It sometimes takes a lot of bad ideas to get to a good one, and if people are too afraid of ridicule to participate, you may never get there at all. Second, attending conferences outside of the normal areas of expertise, working with people from other departments, and allowing time for travel, hobbies, or classes can result in creativity and productivity. Third, as a manager urge people to think about "what if" and "wish list" scenarios, and then see if you can collectively come up with ways to implement them.
In addition to creating innovative employees, creativity allows people to be more adaptive and flexible to changes. This is an important trait to have because the business world is constantly changing.
"Foster a Culture of Creativity in Your Workplace | Business Solutions from AllBusiness.com." Business Resources, Advice and Forms for Large and Small Businesses. Web. 25 Mar. 2010.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Team building is intended to improve the internal functioning of work groups. Team building can be introduced by company trainers or outsiders. The activities and workshops help improve the team’s cooperation, communication, and dysfunctional conflict. I learned that if you want to build a team rather than just bond the individuals closer, you need a structured process. You need to decide before you start what improvements you want and can realistically expect the team to achieve. Next you can decide how long it will take to achieve those results.
"7 Steps to Successful Team Building, Stuctured Team Building." Team Building Activities, Corporate Away Days, Team Building Exercises. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.
Sparks, Ricki. Characteristics of an Effective Team. http://www.missouribusiness.net/sbtdc/docs/characteristics_effective_team.asp
When a survey was conducted by Wilson Learning Corporation, the respondents were asked to describe their peak experiences in work teams. When the results were analyzed, those teams that resulted with high performance had eight common attributes in common which are participating leadership, shared responsibility, aligned on purpose, high communication, future focused, focused on task, creative talents, and rapid response. Now these main attributes also make up progressive teams and ideas.
An article which I found relevant speaks about Business programs at colleges and universities presently facing wide-ranging challenges in delivering quality education. As more and more business programs find it necessary to conserve or redirect resources, successfully leading through change becomes paramount for departments and their faculty teams. This is due to the growing number of part-time faculty. The author examined the processes a school of business undertook while redesigning its program with a strong faculty team of part- and full-time members, which developed their team building. The author identifies and discusses components of leading change and achieving high performance through high communication among the faculty, leadership, shared responsibility, and future focus on the students’ educational success.
Source: Marsh, F. K. "High Performance Team: Building a Business Program With Part- and Full-Time Faculty." Journal of Education for Business 85.4 (2010): 187-194. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
What will happen to personal accountability and ethics in a more flexible and global project-oriented workplace? P322
The article, "Emergent Leadership in Self-Managed Virtual Teams," Carte et. al. discuss a study conducted to prove whether or not self-managed virtual teams are effective in coordinating and executing activities. Their results showed: "that high performing self-managed virtual teams displayed significantly more leadership behaviors over time compared to their low performing counterparts. Specifically, these teams displayed significantly more concentrated leadership behavior focused on performance" (Carte et. al.). Despite the evenly distributed roles among the team, hints of leadership still emerged within the most successful teams.
So what does this mean? Although teams may have roles in which they are held accountable for, a team cannot steer towards the direction they want to go in without some sort of leadership and guidance. When you think about it, leadership, itself, is also a team role to consider.
Source: Carte, Traci, Laku Chidambaram, and Aaron Becker. "Emergent Leadership in Self-Managed Virtual Teams." Group Decision & Negotiation 15.4 (2006): 323-343. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.
Being an international business student, I find it important to know how to communicate through the web and technology. So, I researched online to find out more about virtual teams pros and cons, and I came across a simple site that mentions a few points. Pros would include less travel, bigger markets, and synchronized schedules and time frames. The cons consist of needing all workers to know certain "techonoliteracy " in order to communicate clearly through the web, hiding through technology and not working as efficiently as being in the same location, attention may not be given fully to online meetings/discussions, figuring out a time frame that compromises each time zone, and communication without nonverbal behavior. There are definitely good and bad sides to virtual teams, but as time goes on and as technology becomes more innovative, it should improve a lot in the future.
A study was done by Leasher Dennis Madrid, Madeline Canas, and Mona Ortega-Medina on cooperation versus competition. They tested 16 children from 8 to 9 and half years old. They divided the children into different groups—groups that were tutored competitively and groups tutored cooperatively. Their findings showed that the children who were tutored cooperatively were more successful when it came to their tests and was able to improve their scores than those who were taught competitively by 92%. They concluded that when it came to schooling, it was better for students to learn in a more cooperative classroom than that of a competitive classroom.
Leasher Dennis Madrid, Madeline Canas, & Mona Ortega-Medina. (2007). Effects of Team Competition Versus Team Cooperation in Classwide Peer Tutoring. The Journal of Educational Research, 100(3), 155-160,192. Retrieved March 21, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
On the website, ‘WORLDSHAPERS!: Social Entreprenuers “Rebalancing” Society,’ cooperation’s definition also includes that the success of one team is dependent on the success of another. Although competition is the opposite of cooperation, competition is sometimes the motivation for teams to cooperate in order to become a more effective unit. However, there are some forms of cooperations that are illegal in certain areas, such as, cartels and price-fixing. In the Prinsoner’s Dilemma, it showed that we humans act more cooperatively because we are naturally socially cooperative and can’t survive without it. There are four conditions that are necessary for cooperation: common goals, opportunity to cooperate with same individuals again, memories of past cooperations with same individuals, and a value associated with future outcomes. This website points out important details that cooperation has, such as, competition is a motivation for cooperation. Reading this article helped to gain a better understanding of cooperation.
Cooperation vs. Competition. 20 March 2010
There are so many things at play in the ways that people communicate and interact, it's enough to make a man crazy. Chapter 10 of our fun-filled-fantasy romp through la-la land Organizational Behavior, by none other than our friends, Kreitner and Kinicki, spells out a dizzying array of how organizational social interactions are formulated and maintained. This chapter covers everything from expectations and group pressure to team size. There are two things in this chapter that really caught my eye, though- the concept of social currencies, and Bruce W. Tuckman's five-stage group development process.
When you think about it, there's no social currency like money (or Duck Tales)
(Image courtesy of stormstrike.files.wordpress.com)
In this case, there are currencies that you and your organization exchange in any and all interactions. Of course, there's the reason most people work, which is money. You exchange your time and skills for a paycheck. That's one kind of currency exchange, but you also exchange your loyalty, positivity, good performance, and other things with your job in exchange for advancement, benefits, continued employment, and other things. You exchange your assets as currency for their assets, which you probably want. How you "pay out" your currency (if you do at all), has a profound impact on how you are perceived within the group and the organization as a whole.
This is a two-way street. If the organization is giving you what you perceive to be a lower value of exchange than you feel you deserve, you will likely give less to make the exchange feel more "equal" in your mind. Conversely, if the company sees that you are giving much more value to the company than the company perceives it is giving to you, then a promotion is probably not far off. This is essentially simple psychology that I have covered in previous blog posts, but it bears repeating, due to its profound importance to group dynamics. If your group isn't giving you what you believe you deserve, you won't give as much to your group or team, and that's not a sustainable relationship.
So, how do groups develop into a collaborative environment where these kinds of exchanges take place? Some dude back in 1965 named Bruce W. Tuckman developed a theory to help explain that very process, making him one of the pimpingest educational psychologists from that decade.
Pictured: The Pimpingest
(Image courtesy of i4learnlive2.co.uk)
He broke down his theory into five stages, starting with the formation of the group and ending with the eventual adjournment of the group. I will break down the steps one by one, and give real-life examples.
Step 1- Forming
Forming is the meet-and-greet stage, where nobody knows each other. There is some ambiguity as to who is in charge and what specific group roles are in this stage. During this stage, if there is a formal leader, he'd better step up and take charge or someone else will do it for him. A good example would be a group of motorcyclists. In my time riding my motorcycle all over northern California, I have found that it's super easy to get a group together, but difficult to give that group some direction. There are roles in riding groups that need to be fulfilled. The person in back sets the pace while the person in front watches for road hazards and alerts the group behind them. Usually, the ride organizer is automatically designated the formal leader, but if their leadership is insufficient, another rider (sometimes in mid-ride) can supersede them and take charge if they detect that the group is not enjoying themselves, which is the whole point of riding.
Step 2- Storming
Storming is where group members really feel out the situation with the leader and other members. this is a trying stage for the group, because this is where power blocs are born and politics play a big role. This is the stage where members test the policies of the leader, and where they begin to figure out where they fit into the group hierarchy. Imagine a company of new soldiers fresh out of boot camp joining with their battalion in an overseas deployment. Of course, they're the new guys. Imagine that boot camp is the forming stage. Now, they need to figure out how they fit into the scheme of things by testing their leader's policies and by forming groups. The book points out that this stage can be deadly because some people will try to make power grabs, leading to conflict.
Stage 3- Norming
According to the model, groups that make it this far did so because a member of the group other than the leader stepped up to call on group members to abandon power struggles and come together to work toward organizational goals. This is the part of the equation where team spirit begins to form, and people fall into their roles. Imagine a new online publication. The new team has already formed little groups that made plays for power gains in the office structure, but a member of the office has said that this can't work anymore. All members of the group sit down, hash out the problems, reaffirm their roles, and start to view the group as the vehicle for productivity, rather than a means to an end.
Stage 4- Performing
This is where task problems get solved. The group members won't be stepping on each other's toes in this stage. The group members cooperate with each other and help each other on tasks. The group's goals are now part of each member's commitment to the activity. Imagine an assembly line, where each member counts on other members to do their job correctly. Beyond the expectation, though, is TRUST that the other members WILL do their job correctly.
Stage 5- Adjourning
Unfortunately, the project is over, and the group must disband. A group that has made it to this stage will see it's members experiencing a sense of loss. Members will naturally miss the cohesiveness of the group and the people that they met. Often, there will be celebrations of success, or somber rituals of loss. Leaders will often give talks to the group about lessons learned, great work that was done in the group, and implore group members to prepare for their futures. In this case, think about a class of students at a college. They came into the school without any knowledge of each other, what the expectations were, or what their roles would be. Some of them made power plays in various extracurricular activities like sports and student government, but advisors and teachers were the primary supervisors that they reported to. The students form small groups and play for power (in this case, popularity is a big one). They then grow up a little, reaffirm their roles as students and not partying alcoholics, and everyone starts working together, sometimes forming study groups and other such things that help toward the common goal of graduation. In the end, they graduate, and the group dissolves.
The concept of rewards and positive reinforcement shares a two-way street with proper coaching and goal-setting. How can you be rewarded for not accomplishing a measurable outcome for your organization? This is where things can get hairy, because this dynamic is where that "corporate lemming" atmosphere can be inadvertently constructed.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE BADASS OLDSCHOOL COMPUTER GAME "LEMMINGS"
(Image courtesy of Tonychor.com)
If you set a number of menial goals for your desk slaves to accomplish, they will simply jump through various organizational hoops toward the inevitable goal of suicide. These kinds of goals are called "performance outcome goals." You simply set some stupid bar like "sales numbers," or, "customer retention," and your employees become frustrated and disengaged, because they aren't being challenged in a meaningful or even enjoyable way. What works better are what Chapter 9 in our book calls, "learning goals." These goals encourage an employee to be creative, attack an interesting problem, and work toward developing new skills for future projects to achieve positive outcomes. If we get challenged in this way, we enjoy our jobs a lot more, and on average, get a lot less stabby with each other. Nobody likes explaining why they're stabby to their kids.
(Image courtesy of idiotpress.com)
There's a process to all this. This process is my focus today. An organization that wants a less stabtastic workforce wants to set good goals which the employees will at least tolerate.
First, you need to set goals. The book says that goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time bound). That's a good point. It's important to lay out goals in a way that makes things simple. Employees need to know what the goals are, what the metrics for success are, how they are attained, what the results of those goals are, and the time frame in which to accomplish them.
Second, an organization needs to sell these goals to the workforce. The best laid plans can quickly unravel without support. The book calls this "Promoting Goal Commitment." According to the book, it's important to do a number of things during this stage in the brain-washing. You need to explain why these goals have been set, what the goals are and how personal goals in the company come into play, get employees to develop personal action plans, get teams and units together to participate in goal-setting sessions, give employees control, and make sure there's an adequate reward. Oh yeah, and don't threaten them with these goals. They get stabby that way.
The last part of this whole equation is very important. There needs to be a system of feedback in place. People like knowing how they're doing. We get mid-term grades in college so we know if we're drinking too much (or not enough). The same can be said about the workplace (not the drinking part, the other part). Letting employees know how they are doing helps to foster a sense of community, and that management has an interest in an employee's contribution rather than the end result.
And now, a real-world example:
My father is a wine maker, and we have a number of goals, most of which involve doing specific things on specific dates within specified amounts of time. Wine is a temperamental beverage that can turn into garbage REALLY quickly. We need to pick grapes, stem and crush them, punch them down in large barrels, press them into juice, add yeast (and sometimes wood chips for flavor), and put the resulting juice into oak casks for two years to ferment. I am personally involved in every aspect of this process. We rack the wine on a consistent time table by moving the wine out of the barrel and cleaning the newly empty cask, then replacing the wine with topping wine from kegs and carboys. Mismanaging this step can leave you with wine full of sediment that ruins the overall product. I don't know how many of you out there are winos like us, but sediment in your wine makes it undrinkable. Imagine getting a mouthful of sand in a sip of beer. Same thing.
We set time-based goals with all those involved, making sure that everyone gives their input and gets on board with the process. We also make sure everyone knows what their job is and what their hourly goals are. We also have a system of rewards for good participation and effort in the form of free bottles of wine (it's like giving away $50 to everyone). My father and the other wine partner, Jay, keeps an eye on everyone, rewarding stellar effort with free wine and other rewards. We make sure that those who work hard toward their specific task get recognized by the group and duly rewarded.
When we're bottling wine every fall, this process of management by objectives is palpable in the air. We bottle about 80 cases of wine in one day. In our GARAGE. Yes, we make award-winning hooch in our garage.
All attendees get together and are given jobs, which rotate over the course of the day. We let everyone know that the primary goal is 80 cases over the course of the day (that's 960 bottles), but there are goals for individual jobs, like corking a certain number of bottles in an hour, or cleaning a certain amount of bottles in a batch. Those that perform well in their present task are rewarded with glasses of wine, and in some cases, bottles. We set goals for every task as well as organizational goals. When those goals are accomplished, we make sure everyone knows how well they are doing and how well others are doing. Goals change on the fly with changing conditions, and the managers (my father and Jay) constantly check on everyone to give them feedback on their performance. Because I've been involved in this process since birth, I can say that my one superpower is my ability to cork bottles. Sometimes, my buddies and I race each other to see who can cork the most bottles with flush corks in 5 minutes. I have never lost to anyone. Ever. I get rewarded with magnums of wine. I love October.
This is an actual picture of my garage. Yes, those are kegs filled with wine. Try a keg stand with one of those.
In the article I read, a former Kellogg student (monetarily supported by Kellog Corporation and then employeed by Kellogg) discussed how the students in the program worked. All were encouraged to be supportive of one another and cooperate well with eachother (in other words, follow the kellogg way of business so that they would be able to successfully integrate into the company upon graduation). However, there were only a few really good jobs available for them and so only a couple of students would be placed in their first choice job upon graduation. This led to competitiveness between them despite all the 'cooperation' talk. Competition is natural it seems and can not be avoided. However, there are ways around it. The author goes onto explain, "One of my close friends came to Kellogg with a mantra that he learned at West Point: Cooperate and graduate. It certainly shows. We spent literally dozens of hours helping each other prepare for our tests this quarter. Even though we were "aiding the competition," together I believe we were stronger students than we would've been as individuals." Even though it could damage one's chances of success, helping others in one's team makes everyone better people and leaves one feeling fulfilled.
Cornuke, Brandon. "Competition and Cooperation." BusinessWeek Online (2009): 5. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 19 Mar. 2010.
Friday, March 19, 2010
I did some research on team effectiveness and found a lot of comparisons to how a sports team is run. One of the essential keys to team success is that everyone accepts their roles, no matter how big or small. Everyone must do their job to the best of their ability and do it with enthusiasm. Also trust and communication is an enormous part of a team’s success. This applies to any type of team, whether is be a group of executives, a soccer team, or a successful marriage.
Monday, March 15, 2010
In a laboratory simulation of group behavior, Bottger and Yetton discovered that to maxamize decision quality, groups should be comprised of no more than 5 members. For objectives other than decision-making, larger groups may prove to be more useful. Although group size is ultimately up to the manager, it is recommended that odd numbered groups are more effective in decision making. Group size can determine the overall performance at hand.
I find this particularly true in the groups I have worked with in the past. The smaller, more intimate groups are usually more straight-forward. The larger groups are more useful in discussions because there are many opinions and perceptive offered.
Source: Yetton, Philip, and Preston Bottger. "The Relationships among Group Size, Member Ability, Social Decision Schemes, and Performance." Organizational Behavior & Human Performance 32.2 (1983): 145-159. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 27 Feb. 2010.
I always thought though that role overload would be one of the major stressors in a person’s life. I was shocked after coming across this study. According to a study named “Role Overload, Role Conflict, and Stress: Addressing Consequences of Multiple Role Demands” by Shelley Coverman, though role overload does play a role in giving a person stress, it was not something major. “The weakest effects observed in the model involved role overload. These effects tend to be small and inconsistent, suggesting that time expenditures do not strongly influence stress levels.” (p.978) Interestingly enough, things like marriage problems or employment problems ranked higher than the overload.
Coverman, S. (2989). Role Overload, Role Conflict, and Stress: Addressing Consequences of Mutiple Role Demands. University of North Carolina Press , pp.965-982.
On the other hand, another social aspect discussed was social loafing. Social loafing is exhibited when a person chooses to put less effort as the group size increases. It is definitely important to make sure group work is split among members, and the tasks given must be covered by each member having no one be passive. Group work is always present in business environments, and it is important to work together in order to increase production and increase success. Having a member put forth less effort can bring a group down due to having to carry the less-effective member's load that was not met. No individual should be granted less work than another in order to effectively create good group work.
I feel that social loafing does bring a group down from experience; it creates more work on those who already are working enough. I work retail, and if a fellow associate doesn't follow instructions or take care of tasks correctly, at the end of the day, those who close the store are left with correcting the mistakes. It's important to make sure to encourage individuals to work effectively and equally. It is also important to create connections with those you work with or who you'd like to work with in order to expand your name and create helpful relationships.