Effective management and communication
Part A ‘Why should organisations have teams?’ According to Leigh L. Thompson, “a work team is an interdependent collection of individuals who share responsibility for specific outcomes for their organisations”. It exists to achieve a shared goal. The most common characteristics of a team are interdependence, boundedness and stability (2000, p. 4). To convince the client, I would present the pros and cons of having a team. First, teams can be more effective than the traditional corporate hierarchical structure in terms of speedy and efficient decision-making. Second, existence of teams encourages input and feedbacking. Third, teams serve and foster employee participation.
The different types of teams are manager-led, self-managing, self-designing and self-governing wok teams. In the manager-led team, the manager acts as the team leader. The team members are responsible for the actual execution of the delegated task. The leader in self-managing teams determines the overall purpose or goal of the team. The whole team manages the methods by which they can achieve their goal (p. 9). Self-directing teams decide on own objectives and the methods by which the team can achieve them. Self-directed teams provide opportunity for organizational changes and learnings (p. 11). The responsibility of self-governing teams include executing a task, managing own performance processes, designing the group and designing the organizational context (p. 12).
The degree of control and/or autonomy within the team in relation with the organization is the main drawback. In particular, the distribution of authority in the organization will reflect on how control is distributed within the team. Other concerns include the responsibility of monitoring and managing teams’ performance and the responsibility of designing teams as a performing unit (p. 8).
The second drawback is the cost of forming and establishing a team (or teams). Manager-led teams have relatively low start-up costs. Self-managing teams are reasonably costly. Though they provide improved productivity and quality, the limited control makes it difficult to assess progress and it can be time-consuming (pp. 9-11). Self-directing teams could be very costly to build. They are extremely time-consuming, vulnerable for conflict and difficult to monitor progress (p. 11). The cost of start-up for self-governing teams depends on the financial capability of the organisation.
The third downside is the process of decision-making and the tradeoffs that involved the process. When decisions are intersperse down in organisations, the goals and interest of these teams may not be aligned with organisational interests. The implication of this is that the traditional role of team manager’s becomes less important and that decisions become more centralised (pp. 12-13).
In sum, there are three main benefits of introducing teams as fast-track decision-making, input and feedbacking and enhancing employee involvement. Ironically, the three main drawbacks are control, autonomy and authority; cost and decision-making. These benefits and drawbacks are inherent on four types of teams as manager-led, self-managing, self-designing and self-governing.
Part B Though electronic mediums present several advantages compared to print communications, in-person communication is still the most recognised form of communication in the workplace. Most modern companies have embraced the idea of electronic communication process as their primary approach to reach organisational members. Electronic connects the global workplace. Online tools allow workers in geographically-scattered locations to communicate and collaborate. Online tools also allow one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many and many-to-one communications. Further, electronic media provides constant real-time connection wherein the exchange of information is distributed and updated automatically. They are also inexpensive as they cut the broadband and bandwidth costs along with printing, shipping and traveling costs (Edelman, 2006).
The theory of communication suggests that communication follows “who says what to whom in what channel with what effect” as its working definition. The theory framework could be viewed based on the following indicators: mechanistic – the perfect transaction of the message; psychological – the perfect transaction of the message plus the feelings and thoughts of the receiver; symbolic interactionist – the product of the interactants who share and create meaning and systemic – the new messages created via “through-put” or communication noise. Noise refers to anything that serves to undermine the communication of intended meaning; hence distorting the meaning of the message (Deresky, p. 135).
Applying this theory to electronic communication practice meant that the use of electronic communication could be seen as possibly distorted by different noise. We can view electronic communication process as the process that moves from symbolic interactionism into systemic communication. To wit, electronic tools couldn’t document or track feelings, thoughts, attitudes and behaviour. The sender and receiver of electronic informations, as cyber interactants share and create meaning. However, the meanings that are involved in their communication often create “through-puts” since there is no spontaneity of conversing. The message could be interpreted in contrast with the intended meaning, misinterpreted and re-interpreted; thus facilitating poorer communications (Orlik, 2000).
For example, the highest rated communication channels conducted for 75 companies under Fortune 500 companies listed different electronic communication tools like intranet, blogs, podcasts, wikis and e-mail as their main communication channel. However, none provides solution for knowledge management since they lack distinct method to capture critical reactions which are necessary for ‘honest’ analysis. Moreover, electronic tools are not applicable to trainings as symbols could cultivate inappropriate meanings and may discard organisational performance. What proved to be the most ideal, and effective, communication tool is the in-person process. In-person communication is rated highest on aspects of culture change, collaboration, identifying employee issues, knowledge management and trainings and relatively high rate on trend analysis/tracking (Edelman, 2006).
In sum, electronic communication tools are effective ways to make the people inform regarding the basics of the organisation. However, information exchange that concerns the cognitive and emotional domains of the employees, electronic communication will only be fruitless.
Deresky, H. (2005). International Management: Managing Across Borders and Cultures. (5th Ed.). Prentice Hall. pp. 388-391.
Edelman Change and Employee Engagement (2006). New Frontiers in Employee Communication. Retrieved on 28 January 2008 from http://www.scribd.com/doc/25430/New-Frontiers-In-Employee-Communications-Edelman-2006.
Orlik, P. B. (2000). Electronic Media Criticism: Applied Perspectives. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Thompson, L. L. (2007). Making the Team: A Guide for Managers. (3rd ed.). Prentice Hall.
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