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Organizational Research

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Teams have been used over the years to achieve the desired results by organizations. The use of teams began more than 20 years ago in automobile manufactures, such as, Toyota and Volvo that begun to use teams. This was at a time, when not so many automobile companies were willing to move away from systems that were centralized, departmentalized and extremely formalized. Afterwards, more and more companies began to appreciate the efficiency of using a team-based system of management (Lucas, Lupton & Mathieson 2006). There are the organizations that used teams in every department, which for many organizations was a drastic departure from the normal way of doing things. This was after the realization that the existent traditional structures were not very productive. One such an organization that adopted a team-based management was the Australian Tax Office (Lucas, Lupton & Mathieson 2006).

            Later on in the 90s, the use of a team-based management began to spread. Many organizations realized that the sure way to improve management, be effective and to perform well was through the implementation of managerial teams. Employees, who worked in teams, reported higher levels of job satisfaction than others did.

            Even firms that are larger have adopted a team-based management. They have, however, only introduced a team-based management only in areas, where it was appropriate. The management of these firms has realized that a lot of synergy is to be obtained when employees are more involved in the management of the organization. The team-based style of leadership has spread to a point, where it is the norm and the mechanistic style of leadership is an exception (Mullins 2010).

            The way the roles are divided among members of a team determines whether the team is able to perform or not. Teams that consist of people, who are creative, well coordinated and positive, usually perform better than those that are not. The roles within a group should be very clear so that the group functions properly. The first set of roles is that of facilitating the activities within the group.

            Within businesses today, working as a team has become very common. It is, therefore, important for managers to review and understand the behavior of teams and their concepts. The building of a team requires that the manager systematically plans and implements the necessary processes in order to assess whether or not there are areas that need to be improved before the team can succeed in achieving its goals (Abbott & Ryan 2001). The manager will need to remove all sorts of barriers in order to build a strong team that will achieve the set goals of the organization. The managers will have to decide the sizes of the teams and the roles of the members in those teams.

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When organizations decide to divide employees into teams, it is aiming at achieving certain goals and objectives, which have already been set. The team is, therefore, the tool that is used to achieve these goals. There are many reasons why teams are formed and for various reasons. No matter the reason why a team is formulated, it should go through various stages. This essay will look at the four stages of organizing a team according to Bruce Tuckman, who is a researcher at the Naval Medical Research Institute based at Bethesda (Lucas, Lupton & Mathieson 2006).

            The objectives of the forming stage, according to Tuckman, include getting the team members to understand the overall mission of the project (Aston Centre for Human Resources 2008). All participants should be aware of all the phases involved in the project; they should get to know the estimated schedule for the mission and the resources that are available at the disposal of the team. During the forming stage, the responsibility of each member of the team should be made clear and the basic rules that govern the team should be clearly spelt out. For the team to perform efficiently, it is not necessary to have just one individual, who is responsible for the entire team, instead, the duties for the project management should be shared. This will allow the various members of the team to feel like they are responsible for the success of the team (Aston Centre for Human Resources 2008).

The second stage, according to the Tuckman’s concept, is the storming stage. The storming stage involves lots of competition and sometimes conflict. This is because it is at this stage that members of the team are learning to express their feelings, opinions, beliefs, ideas and attitudes (Bartlett and Ghoshal 1991). These conflicts are bound to rise as the members learn to mold and bend their ideas in order to accommodate all views. These conflicts in opinions may not be expressed at the initial stage but this does not mean that the conflicts do not exist. The team members are at this point curious to find out the people responsible for various activities within the group. They also would want to know the rules of engagement and the reward system that exists within the organization. It is also important that the team members know the criteria for evaluation that will be used in the project.

During the storming stage, the conflicts that arise have a lot to do with the form of leadership, the structure of the team, the way the power will be shared within the organization as well as the authority responsible for the team (Leopold, Harris & Watson 1999). A lot of discomfort will be generated because of all the conflicts during the storming stage. While there are members, who will try to dominate the team, there are those members, who will choose to remain silent. The desire of both the people, who attempt to dominate, and the ones, who remain silent, is to have the structure of the organization.

            Before the team members can progress to the next stage of the team building, according to Tuckman, they must overcome all the testing and proving efforts by the team members to a point, where all the members are willing to solve the problem at hand. A lot of listening will be necessary to resolve the issues at hand. The members will need to listen to one another and to the team leader in order to find a way forward. After the storming stage, the members are to move to the norming stage. During the norming stage, the relationships among the team members are characterized by a feeling of cohesion. According to Tuckman, not all teams are able to reach this point. Some teams crumble before they reach the norming stage.

            At the norming stage, the members are required to recognize the contributions of other members. This acknowledgement will help in building a strong community, where members are able to work together as one team. The team spirit will enable members to solve any issues that may arise and to focus on the mission for what the team was formulated in the first place (Beardwell and Holden 2003). The group membes will be willing to change their initial views and to accommodate the ideas brought in by others. They should also engage in question and answer sessions with one another in order to recognize one another’s strengths.

            In addition, because, according to Tuchman’s principles, leadership is a shared responsibility, the norming stage succeeds at dissolving the cliques that may have existed in the past. The members begin to understand one another and trust each other fostering a cohesive spirit. The team spirit is adopted as members are relieved and interpersonal conflicts are resolved (Lucas, Lupton & Mathieson 2006). Data is able to flow from one member of the team to the next as they share their feelings and ideas. Feedback is also solicited and given from one person to the next. The team is as a result able to explore the various options and aspects of the task. It is also characterized by lots of creativity as members exchange ideas. Openness is very important for this stage to be passed successfully. All members feel good because they know they are part of a team that is very effective. The one drawback that may occur at this stage is members’ resisting any change due to the fear that change may eventually lead to the group disintegrating (Lucas, Lupton & Mathieson 2006).

            The final stage in the Buckman theory is the performing stage. The performing stage is one that not all groups are able to reach. For a team to reach the performing stage, its members must be the people, who are able to work independently, while having the humility to gather together as a team to solve any issues that may arise. Such a team will be most productive at this stage. During this stage, it is important that the members of the team are people, who are both task and people oriented. This is because work will have to be accomplished by a team that is working together in unity. Once the team identity has been made complete, the team’s morale is set to rise up high. Loyalty is also important at this point because the members need to know that they can trust one another.

            The focus of the team at this point is to perform to the highest level. The emphasis is to be able to achieve the maximum possible (Lucas, Lupton & Mathieson 2006). The overall productivity can only be possible if the focus is placed on solving problems and working. Finally, Buckman suggests that the team needs to adjourn. This, in his view, is the fifth stage. During this stage, the team is allowed to break up. The conclusion of the project needs to be well planned and the participation of members and the achievements made should be recognized.

            The members need to be allowed to say their personal goodbyes so that no feelings are left unspoken. This is because when a group is being disbanded, there is bound to be some feeling of apprehension. Not all the members of the team will be able to handle this sort of situation very well. It is, therefore, important to wrap up things with the team in a way that allows the team to say goodbye to the project properly.

            The use of teams may seem like the way to go for many organizations aiming to achieve results (Lucas, Lupton & Mathieson 2006). Critics, however, argue that it is not always the ideal form of operation. Formation of teams may not always give the desired results. While teamwork comes with various advantages, it also has its share of challenges. Implementing it is not always an easy task and care must be taken if it is to be successful. Teamwork will work successfully depending on the culture and climate of the organization, the kind of leadership available for the teams, the level of commitment by the employees and the reward and compensation system adopted by the organization and the level, at which the employees are autonomous.

Clear goals are needed so that the proper decisions are made. The other qualities that will be needed are those of responsibility and accountability in the leadership of the team. This will allow the effective training and the provision of all the necessary resources. Rewards are equally necessary for the project to be a success.

            There are many types of teams that organizations can adopt to boost their operations. A team could be defined as a group of people, usually consisting of a small number of people, who have pre-determined performance goals. The group is normally committed to a particular purpose and, therefore, approaches the issues from a common point of view. From this definition, it is important that teams must be of a size that is manageable. All the members of the team should be focused on achieving the goals of the organization. Joint accountability will be needed on the part of team members.

            There are times, when the word group is used instead of team even though the two words do not mean the exact same thing. There is a group of analysts, who believe that a clear distinction between the word group and team because the word team means more than just a group of people. As such, a team is more than just a group of people working together to achieve a set objective.  This is because in a team, relationships are built as team members, who need to cooperate. This results in a level of dependency by the members of the team. Again, leadership roles can be interchanged making the team some sort of community. These characteristics may not necessarily apply to a group of people.

            Work teams are also quite different from groups of people.  At work, teams can be either temporary or permanent. Temporary teams are those that are put together for short-term projects, while permanent teams are established for long-term projects. This paper focuses on the long-term teams that are established to achieve long-term goals. Teams are attractive mainly due to the reasons why they are formulated. Authors, who have written concerning the team-based management, claim that this system of management dominates mainly because of global competition, which has heightened over the years (Mullins 2010). This high level of global competition together with the pressure to address the needs of niche markets is what has led to more need for teams in organizations. This is because service providers and manufacturers now face stiff competition on the costs of products and services, information technology and innovation (Briscoe 1995).

            This means that companies now have to think outside the box to come up with services and products that address the needs of their prospective clients (Hofsetde 1980). The organizations no longer manufacture goods for the masses and instead manufacture tailor-made goods and services for a particular market niche. In order to be able to achieve this objective, organizations have turned to teams ass a way of responding to forces in the market. They have realized that teams are capable of maximizing the ability of organizations to be innovative and making decisions (Lucas, Lupton & Mathieson 2006). When employees are organized in teams, they no longer need to be told what to do and when to do it. All that well organized teams need are goals that have been set out. The teams could develop these goals together with their team leaders in order to develop a sense of ownership.

            With many companies becoming global entities, it has become impossible for the managers to be able to know about all the things that go on within the organization (Mullins, 2010). This is the reason why many managers are adopting the team-management system as a form of keeping track of everything that goes on within the organization. Through teams, the learning within an organization is enhanced (Ivancevich & Matteson 1996). This is because the employees within the team are able to experiment with different approaches in order to come up with the best strategies for their work. Teams have also been known to perform better as they are able to manage a number of tasks and responsibilities at a time.

            When employees are able to multitask, they feel important and valued, which normally results in greater job satisfaction (Mullins 2010). The result is that less employees will be absent at the office and the organization will save money that would have been required to keep hiring and training new staff. Moreover, when an organization decides to implement teams, it has to be willing to implement an overall change in the culture and structure of the organization. This is because implementing teams involves more than just formulating one, it comes with many challenges that organizations must deal with. This is usually because any form of change in an organization does not come easy. The first challenge that the management usually has to deal with is the resistance from employees, who may not be comfortable with the new structures (Legge 2004).

            Primarily, there is the fear of employees of having to work with people they may not have worked with before. The employees at this point may have established the social ties with other employees in their department and may resist any attempts to break these bonds. The one way for managers to overcome this resistance is by organizing team-building exercises. Team-building exercises have been known to improve the performance of a group, as members are able to communicate freely with one another (Legge 2004). This will generate cohesion among the members of the team creating a feeling of belonging to a community. In the implementation of teams, a lot of care has to be taken in order to ensure that team members are comfortable with one another because if they are not united then very little will be achieved by the team.

            Once teams have been empowered, a problem occurs when employees feel like they are not trusted to perform certain tasks or to make particular decisions. Most of these tasks could be of a complex nature. In some organizations, where teams are not entrusted with some activities and have to consult the managers or seek permission before performing some tasks, targets are not usually met and in many instances, the employees do not feel like their own the projects are assigned to them. Such employees are not motivated enough and innovations are less likely to occur (Noe et al. 2004). This is because the team members only give suggestions that they think will appeal to the management and not those that may be fruitful. As these feelings of detachment continue, members of the team begin to get the feeling that the management of the organization may not be genuinely interested in their ideas and are merely giving them lip service in the form of team spirit.

            There are also instances, where the teams that are put in place to replace traditional structures of management, end up consuming more time than the original set up (Ivancevich & Matteson 1996). This is especially true in those organizations, where there are many teams, which are interdependent and as such, coordination is required among the various teams. Organizations may be able to overcome these problems through the team-building exercises as well. Continued training will, however, be necessary before all members of the various teams can operate harmoniously. The leadership of the teams needs to be very effective because it will be their duty to coordinate the members of the various teams in order to work in unison.

            For teams to work efficiently there is a need to balance the autonomy of each group and the decentralization of power from the management (Black et al. 1999). It is, therefore, very important for the culture and climate of the organization to be considered before teams are constituted. The goals and values of employees should not be taken as being the same because each employee has his or her own goals in life. In addition, the goals of employers and those of employees are never the same. The success of the established teams depends on the attitude of the employer towards the team.

            The values that already exist in the organization should be taken into account and the teams should be seen as an extension of the same values. In the event that the management desires a culture change, then teams can be an effective way of achieving this. This is because teamwork results in shifting the attitudes of employees, which, in turn, results in a transformation of culture (Black et al. 1999).

            In general, a good team should possess some qualities. One such a quality is the setting of goals that are clear. The team will only have a sense of direction if it has clear goals. These goals, apart from being clear, should also be time specific. If the firm is aiming at improving its market share, then the team should have a clearly set target in the form of percentage so that they do not operate in a vacuum. The focus should be on the end and not on the means of achieving these results. The performance measure that has been set should be clear and meaningful in order to improve the confidence level of the members of the team.

            Teams should also have the ability and authority to make independent decisions. This gives the employees a feeling of being in control, which improves efficiency. This is because a lack of the decision-making authority requires them to constantly seek approval from the management. When teams are empowered, a lot of time is saved and productivity is higher. Teams should be allowed to experiment with ideas in order for innovation to occur and for results to be achieved. The teams must also be informed that they are expected to be responsible and accountable for their actions (Muller-Camen & Leigh 2008).

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