Management Study Set 36

Business

Quiz 18 :

Leading Teams

Quiz 18 :

Leading Teams

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Discuss how the dilemmas of teamwork might be intensified in a virtual team. What dilemmas do you encounter when you have to do class assignments as part of a team? Discuss.
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Although working in teams can have many advantages in terms of sharing of work, making decisions and working with others also comes with some negative aspects. These can be observed while working by forming a virtual team.
The dilemmas of teamwork are:
• Giving up independence: the team is expected to produce team outputs rather than individual outputs, so team members must work in ways to be compatible with a group process rather than as individual contributors. This is also true in a virtual team, though it may be magnified by the reduced personal communication which can lead to a higher level of misunderstandings in terms of contributions needed by the team.
• Free riders: any team may have members who do not perform adequate their part to complete the project. Since the team's work cannot be completed without all the inputs, other team members will have to do that person's part to finish the project on time. This can be magnified in a virtual team, because email is an impersonal form of communication and the offending member may not feel the level of anger or frustration via team emails that he would receive in an in-person meeting. This makes it easier for the offender to skimp on their performance.
• Dysfunctional aspects: a team is only as strong as its individual members, and if some of those members don't work well with the group the entire team will suffer. This can also be magnified in a virtual situation, since interpretation of communications will rely on the specific words in the email, without the input of body language, tone of voice, or other in-person dynamics. Without those additional queues, the potential for misunderstanding is increased.

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Volvo went co self-directed teams to assemble cars because of the need to attract and keep workers in Sweden, where pay raises are not a motivator (high taxes) and many other jobs are available. Are these factors good reasons for using a team approach? Discuss.
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When faced with a work situation where traditional incentives such as raises are not effective and jobs are a plenty, implementation of self-directed work teams is an excellent approach. Self-directed work teams give employees a sense of control over their results and allow the development of the self-decision making capability to solve problems that come up rather than relying on a manager to determine the solution.
A self-directed team helps to meet the belongingness needs of staff , by including them in a work group; the esteem needs , by increasing their responsibilities by giving more decision making power to the team; and their self-actualization needs , by providing opportunities for training, learning new things and using creativity on the job.
All of these aspects will move employees up in the Maslow hierarchy of needs, increasing their job satisfaction and motivation. This higher level of satisfaction will tend to decrease employee turnover , as staff prefer to continue in their current job rather than look for a new one.

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Calgary Oil Shale Technologies, Inc. When Martin Bouchard took over as president and CEO of Calgary Oil Shale Technologies, Inc. (COST), one of his top goals was to introduce teams as a way of solving the morale and productivity problems at the company's Alberta field operations site. COST is a subsidiary of an international oilfield services company. The subsidiary specializes in supplying technology and data management to optimize die recovery of oil from oil shale formations in Alberta, Colorado, and Utah. Oil shale is sedimentary rock containing a high proportion of organic matter that can be converted into crude oil or natural gas. With the price of crude oil skyrocketing and world supplies limited, energy companies in Canada and the United States were making a big push to recover hydrocarbons trapped in oil shale and slow-forming oil formations. Through its proprietary logging technology; COST could distinguish oil-bearing rock layers and help energy companies gain higher productivity' from oil shale production. COST used highly trained professionals, such as geologists, geophysicists, and engineers, to handle the sophisticated technology. They' also used skilled and semiskilled labor to run the company's held operations. The two groups regularly clashed, and when one engineer's prank sent a couple of operations workers to the emergency room, the local press had a field day publishing articles about the conflict. The company hired Algoma Howard, a First Nations descendant, to develop a teamwork program to improve productivity' and morale at the Calgary facility. Howard previously had great success using teams as a way to bring people together, enable them to understand one another's problems and challenges, and coordinate their efforts toward a common goal. The idea was to implement the program at other COST locations after the pilot project. In Alberta, Howard had a stroke of luck in the form of Carlos Debrito, a long-time COST employee who was highly respected at the Alberta office and was looking for one final challenging project before he retired. Debrito had served in just about every possible line and staff position at COST over his 26-year career, and he understood the problems workers faced on both the technical and field sides of the business. Howard was pleased when Debrito agreed to serve as leader for the Alberta pilot program. The three functional groups at the Alberta site included operations, made up primarily of hourly workers who operated and maintained the logging equipment; the "below ground group, consisting of engineers, geologists, and geophysicists who determined where and how to dig or drill; and a group of equipment maintenance people who were on call. Howard and Debrito decided the first step was to get these different groups talking to one another and sharing ideas. They instituted monthly "fireside chats," optional meetings to which all employees were invited. The chats were held in the cafeteria during late afternoon, and people could have free coffee or tea and snacks brought by Howard and Debrito. The idea was to give employees a chance to discuss difficult issues and unresolved problems in a relaxed, informal setting. The only people who showed up at the first meeting were a couple of engineers who happened to wander by the cafeteria and see the snack table. Debrito opened the meeting by folding out a cardboard "fireplace" and pulling four chairs around it for the small group to talk. Word quickly spread of the silly "fireplace" incident (and the free food), and more and more people gradually began to attend the meetings. Early sessions focused primarily on talking about what the various participants saw as "their" groups needs, as well as the problems they experienced in working with the "other "groups. One session almost came to fisticuffs until Debrito loudly announced that someone needed to go out and get another log for the fire, breaking the tension and moving things along. During the next session, Debrito and Howard worked with the group to come up with "rules of engagement," including guidelines such as "focus on the issue, not the person," lose the words us and them ," and "if you bring it up, you have to help solve it." Within about six months, the fireside chats had evolved into lively problem-solving discussions focused on issues that all three groups found important. For example, a maintenance worker complained that a standard piece of equipment failed repeatedly due to cold weather and sand contamination. Debrito listened carefully and then drew a maintenance engineer into the discussion. The engineer came up with a new configuration better suited to the conditions, and downtime virtually disappeared. The next step for Howard and Debrito was to introduce, official ''problem busting" teams. These temporary team included members from each of the three functional areas and from various hierarchical levels, and each was assigned a ream leader. which was typically a respected first-line supervisor. Team leaders were carefully trained in team-building, shared-leadership, and creative problem-solving techniques. The teams were asked to evaluate a specific problem identified in a fireside chat and then craft and implement a solution. The teams were disbanded when the problem was solved. CEO Martin Bouchard authorized the teams to address problems within certain cost guide-lines without seeking management approval. Despite the camaraderie that had developed during the fireside chats, some delicate moments occurred when engineers resented working with held personnel and vice versa. In addition, some managers felt disempowered by the introduction of problem-busting teams. They had seen their role as that of problem solver. Now, they were asked to share responsibility and support decisions that might come from the lowest-level workers in the company. Building commitment and trust among lower-level employees wasn't easy either. Howard suggested to DeBrito that used in a "connection ladder" that she had observed used in a hospital nursing team. The idea is for the leader to identify where each team member is in terms of connection/disconnection with the process to determine what approach can help move the person from indifference toward commitment. Over time. and with Debrito's and Howard's continuing guidance, the problem-busting teams eventually began to come together and focus on a number of chronic problems that had long been ignored. About a year and a half into the team-building program, the entire workforce in Alberta was organized into permanent cross-functional teams that were empowered to make their own decisions and elect their own leaders. By this time, just about everyone was feeling comfortable working cross-functionally, and within a few months, things were really humming. The professional and hourly workers got along so well that they decided to continue the fireside chat sessions after work, either in the cafeteria with snacks provided by volunteers or at a local bar. Some tensions between the groups remained, of course, and at one of the chats an, operation worker jokingly suggested that the team members should duke it out once a week to get ride of the tensions so they could focus all their energy on their jobs. Several others joined in the joking, and eventually, the group decided to square off in a weekly hockey game. For the opening game, Howard served as goalie on one side and Debrito as goalie on the other. Implementation of reams at the Alberta facility was deemed by management to be a clear success. Productivity and morale were soaring and costs continued to decline. The comply identified the Colorado office as the next facility, where Algoma Howard and her leadership team needed to introduce the cross-functional team, that had proven so successful in Alberta. Howard's team felt immense pressure from top management to get the team-based productivity project up and running smoothly and quickly in Colorado. Top executives believed the lessons learned in Alberta would make implementing the program at other sites less costly and time-consuming. However, when Howard and her team attempted to implement the program at the Colorado facility, things did not go well. Because people were not showing up for the fireside chats, Howard's team, feeling pressed for time, made attendance mandatory. Ground rules were set by the leadership team at the beginning, based on the guidelines developed in Alberta, and the team introduced specific issues for discussion, again using the information they had gleaned from the early freewheeling Alberta sessions as a basis. However, the meetings still produced few valuable ideas or suggestions. When it came time to form problem-busting teams, Howard thought it might be a good idea to let the groups select their own leaders, as a way to encourage greater involvement and commitment among the Colorado workers. The leaders were given the same training that had been provided in Alberta. However, although a few of the problem-busting teams solved important problems, none of them showed the kind of commitment and enthusiasm Howard had seen in Alberta. In addition, the Colorado workers refused to participate in softball games and other team-building exercises that her team developed for them. Howard finally convinced some workers to join in a softball game by bribing them with free food and beer, but the first game ended with a fight between two operations workers and a group of engineers. "If just had a Carlos Debrito in Colorado, things would go a lot more smoothly," Howard thought. "These workers don't trust us the way workers in Alberta trusted him." It seemed that no matter how hard Howard and her team tried to make the project work in Colorado, morale continued to decline and conflicts between the different groups of workers actually seemed co increase. What would you give Algoma Howard and her team for improving the employee-involvement climate, containing costs, and meeting production goals at the Colorado facility?
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Manager H successfully implemented teams at a company facility in Alberta, Canada that dramatically improved the results of the group, and has been asked to implement a similar program in Colorado. Unfortunately the results to date in Colorado have not been good.
To improve results in the Colorado implementation, management should consider:
• Developing a superordinate goal for the plant, that will inspire staff and help reduce conflict between the groups. A superordinate goal is a large objective that cannot be achieved unless everyone works together , and helps focus members on goal achievement rather than conflicts with other members.
• Bringing in an outside mediator temporarily, to help resolve conflicts between the groups. This mediator could also provide training to team members on negotiation and teamwork skills, to help improve their effectiveness in resolving conflicts once the mediator leaves.

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Walmart Part Five: Leading "Ordinary People" Do Extraordinary Things at Walmart Give me a W! Give me an A! Give me an L! Give me a squiggly! Give me an M! Give me an A! Give me an R! Give me a T! What's that spell? Walmart! Whose Walmart is it? It's my Walmart! Who's number one? The customer! Always! The Walmart cheer is a powerful symbol of Walmart's team spirit and business philosophy rolled, into one. Sam Walton got the idea while watching workers perform a motivational cheer and group calisthenics at a Korean tennis ball factory. Seeing workers bond through a group activity impressed Walton, and the Walmart founder brought the routine back home to Arkansas. What might have fizzled or become an old piece of company trivia gained momentum, and today the Walmart cheer is a hit all over again at Walmart's internarional stores. In Japan, associates shout, "Whose Seiyu is it? It's My Seiyu." In the U.K., "Whose ASDA is it? It's my ASDA!" The translations differ, but in every place the message is the same; The customer is number one, always. Or as they shout in Argentina, "El Cliente Siempre!" Walmart's ongoing commitment to work and play is a reflection of Sam Waltons own leadership style. The first Walmart leader once said, "Just because we work hard, we don't have to go around with long faces." And Mr. Sam meant it. The iconic American businessman famously donned a grass skirt and did a hula dance on Wall Street after losing a bet with top executive David Glass. Walton later recalled the event: "I thought I would slip down there and dance, and David Glass would videotape it so he could prove to everyone back at the Saturday morning meeting that I really did it; but when we got there, it turned out David had hired a truckload of real hula dancers and ukulele players-and he had alerted the newspapers and TV networks." Although clearly not prepared for his big premiere as a hula entertainer, Walton seized the moment: "I slipped on the grass skirt and the Hawaiian shirt and the leis over my suit and did what I think was a pretty fair hula. It was too good a picture to pass up, I guess-this crazy chairman of the board from Arkansas in this silly costume-and it ran everywhere." To Walton, the stunt contained an important business lesson: "At Walmart, when you make a bet like I did... you always pay up." The good times continue at Walmart, and so do hard work and achievement. For many employees, seeing peers rewarded for a job well done proves highly motivational. In 2009, Shawnalyn Conner was one of hundreds of store managers selected to launch a next-generation Walmart store. Conner had joined Walmart as a temporary sales associate only a decade earlier, and now she was responsible for turning a 176,000-square-foot warehouse in Weaverville, North Carolina, into a decked-out retail operation complete with grocery, vision center, photo kiosk, pharmacy, and 30 merchandise departments. The newly minted manager got to work recruiting 350 new associates, and Conner initiated all hires with the same cheer she herself learned a decade earlier. "What we look for in a Walmart associate is someone who's extroverted and loves to deal with customers," Conner said about the recruiting effort. Not surprisingly, it is Conner's own journey from temporary worker to leader of a $70-million-per-year store that interests trainees most. "I started with the company when I was 19," Conner tells her recruits, "And to say now that I'm 31 and run a multi-million-dollar facility is amazing." The message to the new employees is clear: Stick with Walmart and you're going places. It's the Walmart way. Executives at Walmart refer to the company as one big family. There are no grunts or gophers-no employee, no matter how new, is thought of as low person on the totem. According to the company's "open door" policy, all associates are encouraged to speak freely, share concerns, and express ideas for improving daily operations. In return, they can expect managers to treat all discussions fairly with an open mind. The policy is right out of Walton's playbook. "Listen to your associates," Walton urged. "They're the best idea generators" The founders wisdom is routinely reaffirmed through the oft- repeated quote that "nothing constructive happens in Bentonville"-a reference to Walmart headquarters. In Walton's grass-roots ethic, local employees are the ones most likely to produce fresh ideas. At the end of the day, managers at Walmart don't look to superstars to make the big play. The Walmart philosophy argues that whenever ordinary people act together to pursue common goals, they can achieve the extraordinary. "What makes ordinary people do extraordinary things?" Sam Walton once asked his people. "Aren't we a group of ordinary folks? We really are. And I think we, together as a team, have done extraordinary things... we've all accomplished much more than any of us ever thought that we could." What personality traits docs Walmart look for in a job candidate? How might wrong perceptions lead managers to hire the wrong people?
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Suppose that you are the leader of a team that has just been created to develop a new registration process at your college or university. How can you use an understanding of the stages of team development to improve your team's effectiveness?
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When you are a member of a team, do you adopt a task specialist or socioemotional role? Which role is more important for a team's effectiveness?
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One for All and All for One? 82 Melinda Asbel watched as three of her classmates filed out of the conference room. Then she turned back to the large wooden table and faced her fellow members (a student and three faculty members) of the university's judiciary committee. The three students-Joe Eastridge, Brad Hamil, and Lisa Baghetti-had just concluded their appeal against a plagiarism conviction stemming from a group project for an international marketing course. Melinda, who happened to be in the class with the students on trial, remembered the day that the professor, Hank Zierden, had asked Joe, Brad, and Lisa, along with the group's leader, Paul Colgan, to stay after class. She happened to walk by the classroom a half hour later to see four glum students emerge. Even though Paul had a chagrined expression on his face, Joe was the one who looked completely shattered. It didn't take long for word to spread along the ever-active grapevine that Paul had admitted to plagiarizing his part of the group paper. At the hearing, the students recounted how they'd quickly and unanimously settled on Paul to lead the group. He was by far the most able student among them, someone who managed to maintain a stellar GPA even while handling a full course load and holding down a part-time job. After the group worked together for weeks analyzing the problem and devising a marketing plan, Paul assigned a section of the final paper to each member. With the pressure of all those end-of-the-semester deadlines bearing down on them, everyone was delighted when Paul volunteered to write the company and industry background, the section that typically took the most time to produce. Paul gathered in everyone's contributions, assembled them into a paper, and handed the final draft to the other members. They each gave it a quick read. They liked what they saw and thought they had a good chance for an A. Unfortunately, as Paul readily admitted when Professor Zierden confronted them, he had pulled the section that he'd contributed directly off the Internet. Pointing out the written policy that he had distributed at the beginning of the semester, which stated that each group member was equally responsible for the final product, the professor gave all four students a zero for the project. The group project and presentation counted for 30 percent of the course grade. Joe, Brad, and Lisa maintained that they were completely unaware that Paul had cheated. "It just never occurred to us Paul would ever need to cheat," Brad said. They were innocent bystanders, the students argued. Why should they be penalized? Besides, the consequences weren't going to fall on each of them equally. Although Paul was suffering the embarrassment of public exposure, the failing group project grade would only put a dent in his solid GPA. Joe, on the other hand, was already on academic probation. A zero probably meant he wouldn't make the 2.5 GPA that he needed to stay in the business program. At least one of the faculty members of the judiciary committee supported Professor Zierden's actions. "We're assigning more and more group projects because increasingly that's the way these students are going to find themselves working when they get real jobs in the real world," he said. "And the fact of the matter is that if someone obtains information illegally while on the job, it's going to put the whole corporation at risk for being sued, or worse." Even though she could see merit to both sides, Melinda was going to have to choose. If you were Melinda, how would you vote? What Would You Do? 1. Vote to exonerate the three group project members who didn't cheat. You're convinced that they had no reason to suspect Paul Colgan of dishonesty. Exonerating them is the right thing to do. 2. Vote in support of Hank Zierden's decision to hold each individual member accountable for the entire project. The professor clearly stated his policy at the beginning of the semester, and the students should have been more vigilant. The committee should not u ndercut a professor's explicit policy. 3. Vote to reduce each of the three students' penalties. Instead of a zero, each student will receive only half of the possible total points for the project, which would be an F. You're still holding students responsible for the group project, but not imposing catastrophic punishment. This compromise both undercuts the professor's policy and punishes "innocent" team members to some extent, but not as severely.
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Experts say that for teams to function well, members have to get to know one another in some depth. What specifically would you do to facilitate this in a colocated team? What about in a global virtual team?
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Do you believe that admitting ignorance is a good way for a team leader to earn respect? Would this cause some people to disrespect the leader and question his or her suitability for team leadership? Discuss.
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Calgary Oil Shale Technologies, Inc. When Martin Bouchard took over as president and CEO of Calgary Oil Shale Technologies, Inc. (COST), one of his top goals was to introduce teams as a way of solving the morale and productivity problems at the company's Alberta field operations site. COST is a subsidiary of an international oilfield services company. The subsidiary specializes in supplying technology and data management to optimize die recovery of oil from oil shale formations in Alberta, Colorado, and Utah. Oil shale is sedimentary rock containing a high proportion of organic matter that can be converted into crude oil or natural gas. With the price of crude oil skyrocketing and world supplies limited, energy companies in Canada and the United States were making a big push to recover hydrocarbons trapped in oil shale and slow-forming oil formations. Through its proprietary logging technology; COST could distinguish oil-bearing rock layers and help energy companies gain higher productivity' from oil shale production. COST used highly trained professionals, such as geologists, geophysicists, and engineers, to handle the sophisticated technology. They' also used skilled and semiskilled labor to run the company's held operations. The two groups regularly clashed, and when one engineer's prank sent a couple of operations workers to the emergency room, the local press had a field day publishing articles about the conflict. The company hired Algoma Howard, a First Nations descendant, to develop a teamwork program to improve productivity' and morale at the Calgary facility. Howard previously had great success using teams as a way to bring people together, enable them to understand one another's problems and challenges, and coordinate their efforts toward a common goal. The idea was to implement the program at other COST locations after the pilot project. In Alberta, Howard had a stroke of luck in the form of Carlos Debrito, a long-time COST employee who was highly respected at the Alberta office and was looking for one final challenging project before he retired. Debrito had served in just about every possible line and staff position at COST over his 26-year career, and he understood the problems workers faced on both the technical and field sides of the business. Howard was pleased when Debrito agreed to serve as leader for the Alberta pilot program. The three functional groups at the Alberta site included operations, made up primarily of hourly workers who operated and maintained the logging equipment; the "below ground group, consisting of engineers, geologists, and geophysicists who determined where and how to dig or drill; and a group of equipment maintenance people who were on call. Howard and Debrito decided the first step was to get these different groups talking to one another and sharing ideas. They instituted monthly "fireside chats," optional meetings to which all employees were invited. The chats were held in the cafeteria during late afternoon, and people could have free coffee or tea and snacks brought by Howard and Debrito. The idea was to give employees a chance to discuss difficult issues and unresolved problems in a relaxed, informal setting. The only people who showed up at the first meeting were a couple of engineers who happened to wander by the cafeteria and see the snack table. Debrito opened the meeting by folding out a cardboard "fireplace" and pulling four chairs around it for the small group to talk. Word quickly spread of the silly "fireplace" incident (and the free food), and more and more people gradually began to attend the meetings. Early sessions focused primarily on talking about what the various participants saw as "their" groups needs, as well as the problems they experienced in working with the "other "groups. One session almost came to fisticuffs until Debrito loudly announced that someone needed to go out and get another log for the fire, breaking the tension and moving things along. During the next session, Debrito and Howard worked with the group to come up with "rules of engagement," including guidelines such as "focus on the issue, not the person," lose the words us and them," and "if you bring it up, you have to help solve it." Within about six months, the fireside chats had evolved into lively problem-solving discussions focused on issues that all three groups found important. For example, a maintenance worker complained that a standard piece of equipment failed repeatedly due to cold weather and sand contamination. Debrito listened carefully and then drew a maintenance engineer into the discussion. The engineer came up with a new configuration better suited to the conditions, and downtime virtually disappeared. The next step for Howard and Debrito was to introduce, official ''problem busting" teams. These temporary team included members from each of the three functional areas and from various hierarchical levels, and each was assigned a ream leader. which was typically a respected first-line supervisor. Team leaders were carefully trained in team-building, shared-leadership, and creative problem-solving techniques. The teams were asked to evaluate a specific problem identified in a fireside chat and then craft and implement a solution. The teams were disbanded when the problem was solved. CEO Martin Bouchard authorized the teams to address problems within certain cost guide-lines without seeking management approval. Despite the camaraderie that had developed during the fireside chats, some delicate moments occurred when engineers resented working with held personnel and vice versa. In addition, some managers felt disempowered by the introduction of problem-busting teams. They had seen their role as that of problem solver. Now, they were asked to share responsibility and support decisions that might come from the lowest-level workers in the company. Building commitment and trust among lower-level employees wasn't easy either. Howard suggested to DeBrito that used in a "connection ladder" that she had observed used in a hospital nursing team. The idea is for the leader to identify where each team member is in terms of connection/disconnection with the process to determine what approach can help move the person from indifference toward commitment. Over time. and with Debrito's and Howard's continuing guidance, the problem-busting teams eventually began to come together and focus on a number of chronic problems that had long been ignored. About a year and a half into the team-building program, the entire workforce in Alberta was organized into permanent cross-functional teams that were empowered to make their own decisions and elect their own leaders. By this time, just about everyone was feeling comfortable working cross-functionally, and within a few months, things were really humming. The professional and hourly workers got along so well that they decided to continue the fireside chat sessions after work, either in the cafeteria with snacks provided by volunteers or at a local bar. Some tensions between the groups remained, of course, and at one of the chats an, operation worker jokingly suggested that the team members should duke it out once a week to get ride of the tensions so they could focus all their energy on their jobs. Several others joined in the joking, and eventually, the group decided to square off in a weekly hockey game. For the opening game, Howard served as goalie on one side and Debrito as goalie on the other. Implementation of reams at the Alberta facility was deemed by management to be a clear success. Productivity and morale were soaring and costs continued to decline. The comply identified the Colorado office as the next facility, where Algoma Howard and her leadership team needed to introduce the cross-functional team, that had proven so successful in Alberta. Howard's team felt immense pressure from top management to get the team-based productivity project up and running smoothly and quickly in Colorado. Top executives believed the lessons learned in Alberta would make implementing the program at other sites less costly and time-consuming. However, when Howard and her team attempted to implement the program at the Colorado facility, things did not go well. Because people were not showing up for the fireside chats, Howard's team, feeling pressed for time, made attendance mandatory. Ground rules were set by the leadership team at the beginning, based on the guidelines developed in Alberta, and the team introduced specific issues for discussion, again using the information they had gleaned from the early freewheeling Alberta sessions as a basis. However, the meetings still produced few valuable ideas or suggestions. When it came time to form problem-busting teams, Howard thought it might be a good idea to let the groups select their own leaders, as a way to encourage greater involvement and commitment among the Colorado workers. The leaders were given the same training that had been provided in Alberta. However, although a few of the problem-busting teams solved important problems, none of them showed the kind of commitment and enthusiasm Howard had seen in Alberta. In addition, the Colorado workers refused to participate in softball games and other team-building exercises that her team developed for them. Howard finally convinced some workers to join in a softball game by bribing them with free food and beer, but the first game ended with a fight between two operations workers and a group of engineers. "If just had a Carlos Debrito in Colorado, things would go a lot more smoothly," Howard thought. "These workers don't trust us the way workers in Alberta trusted him." It seemed that no matter how hard Howard and her team tried to make the project work in Colorado, morale continued to decline and conflicts between the different groups of workers actually seemed co increase. What role did Carlos Debrito play in the success of the Alberta team-based productivity project? What leadership approach did he employ to help reduce conflict between labor and the professionals? Do you agree with Algoma Howard that if she just had a Carlos Debrito in Colorado, the project would succeed? Explain your answer.
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One company had 40 percent of its workers and 20 percent of its managers resign during the first year after reorganizing into teams. What might account for this dramatic turnover? How might managers ensure a smooth transition to teams?
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If you were the leader of a special-purpose team developing a new computer game and conflicts arose related to power and status differences among team members, what would you do? How might you use the various conflict-resolution techniques described in the chapter?
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Imagine yourself as a potential member of a team responsible for designing a new package for a breakfast cereal. Do you think interpersonal skills would be equally important if the team is organized face to face versus a virtual team? Why or why not? Might different types of interpersonal skills be required for the two types of teams? Be specific.
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Calgary Oil Shale Technologies, Inc. When Martin Bouchard took over as president and CEO of Calgary Oil Shale Technologies, Inc. (COST), one of his top goals was to introduce teams as a way of solving the morale and productivity problems at the company's Alberta field operations site. COST is a subsidiary of an international oilfield services company. The subsidiary specializes in supplying technology and data management to optimize die recovery of oil from oil shale formations in Alberta, Colorado, and Utah. Oil shale is sedimentary rock containing a high proportion of organic matter that can be converted into crude oil or natural gas. With the price of crude oil skyrocketing and world supplies limited, energy companies in Canada and the United States were making a big push to recover hydrocarbons trapped in oil shale and slow-forming oil formations. Through its proprietary logging technology; COST could distinguish oil-bearing rock layers and help energy companies gain higher productivity' from oil shale production. COST used highly trained professionals, such as geologists, geophysicists, and engineers, to handle the sophisticated technology. They' also used skilled and semiskilled labor to run the company's held operations. The two groups regularly clashed, and when one engineer's prank sent a couple of operations workers to the emergency room, the local press had a field day publishing articles about the conflict. The company hired Algoma Howard, a First Nations descendant, to develop a teamwork program to improve productivity' and morale at the Calgary facility. Howard previously had great success using teams as a way to bring people together, enable them to understand one another's problems and challenges, and coordinate their efforts toward a common goal. The idea was to implement the program at other COST locations after the pilot project. In Alberta, Howard had a stroke of luck in the form of Carlos Debrito, a long-time COST employee who was highly respected at the Alberta office and was looking for one final challenging project before he retired. Debrito had served in just about every possible line and staff position at COST over his 26-year career, and he understood the problems workers faced on both the technical and field sides of the business. Howard was pleased when Debrito agreed to serve as leader for the Alberta pilot program. The three functional groups at the Alberta site included operations, made up primarily of hourly workers who operated and maintained the logging equipment; the "below ground group, consisting of engineers, geologists, and geophysicists who determined where and how to dig or drill; and a group of equipment maintenance people who were on call. Howard and Debrito decided the first step was to get these different groups talking to one another and sharing ideas. They instituted monthly "fireside chats," optional meetings to which all employees were invited. The chats were held in the cafeteria during late afternoon, and people could have free coffee or tea and snacks brought by Howard and Debrito. The idea was to give employees a chance to discuss difficult issues and unresolved problems in a relaxed, informal setting. The only people who showed up at the first meeting were a couple of engineers who happened to wander by the cafeteria and see the snack table. Debrito opened the meeting by folding out a cardboard "fireplace" and pulling four chairs around it for the small group to talk. Word quickly spread of the silly "fireplace" incident (and the free food), and more and more people gradually began to attend the meetings. Early sessions focused primarily on talking about what the various participants saw as "their" groups needs, as well as the problems they experienced in working with the "other "groups. One session almost came to fisticuffs until Debrito loudly announced that someone needed to go out and get another log for the fire, breaking the tension and moving things along. During the next session, Debrito and Howard worked with the group to come up with "rules of engagement," including guidelines such as "focus on the issue, not the person," lose the words us and them," and "if you bring it up, you have to help solve it." Within about six months, the fireside chats had evolved into lively problem-solving discussions focused on issues that all three groups found important. For example, a maintenance worker complained that a standard piece of equipment failed repeatedly due to cold weather and sand contamination. Debrito listened carefully and then drew a maintenance engineer into the discussion. The engineer came up with a new configuration better suited to the conditions, and downtime virtually disappeared. The next step for Howard and Debrito was to introduce, official ''problem busting" teams. These temporary team included members from each of the three functional areas and from various hierarchical levels, and each was assigned a ream leader. which was typically a respected first-line supervisor. Team leaders were carefully trained in team-building, shared-leadership, and creative problem-solving techniques. The teams were asked to evaluate a specific problem identified in a fireside chat and then craft and implement a solution. The teams were disbanded when the problem was solved. CEO Martin Bouchard authorized the teams to address problems within certain cost guide-lines without seeking management approval. Despite the camaraderie that had developed during the fireside chats, some delicate moments occurred when engineers resented working with held personnel and vice versa. In addition, some managers felt disempowered by the introduction of problem-busting teams. They had seen their role as that of problem solver. Now, they were asked to share responsibility and support decisions that might come from the lowest-level workers in the company. Building commitment and trust among lower-level employees wasn't easy either. Howard suggested to DeBrito that used in a "connection ladder" that she had observed used in a hospital nursing team. The idea is for the leader to identify where each team member is in terms of connection/disconnection with the process to determine what approach can help move the person from indifference toward commitment. Over time. and with Debrito's and Howard's continuing guidance, the problem-busting teams eventually began to come together and focus on a number of chronic problems that had long been ignored. About a year and a half into the team-building program, the entire workforce in Alberta was organized into permanent cross-functional teams that were empowered to make their own decisions and elect their own leaders. By this time, just about everyone was feeling comfortable working cross-functionally, and within a few months, things were really humming. The professional and hourly workers got along so well that they decided to continue the fireside chat sessions after work, either in the cafeteria with snacks provided by volunteers or at a local bar. Some tensions between the groups remained, of course, and at one of the chats an, operation worker jokingly suggested that the team members should duke it out once a week to get ride of the tensions so they could focus all their energy on their jobs. Several others joined in the joking, and eventually, the group decided to square off in a weekly hockey game. For the opening game, Howard served as goalie on one side and Debrito as goalie on the other. Implementation of reams at the Alberta facility was deemed by management to be a clear success. Productivity and morale were soaring and costs continued to decline. The comply identified the Colorado office as the next facility, where Algoma Howard and her leadership team needed to introduce the cross-functional team, that had proven so successful in Alberta. Howard's team felt immense pressure from top management to get the team-based productivity project up and running smoothly and quickly in Colorado. Top executives believed the lessons learned in Alberta would make implementing the program at other sites less costly and time-consuming. However, when Howard and her team attempted to implement the program at the Colorado facility, things did not go well. Because people were not showing up for the fireside chats, Howard's team, feeling pressed for time, made attendance mandatory. Ground rules were set by the leadership team at the beginning, based on the guidelines developed in Alberta, and the team introduced specific issues for discussion, again using the information they had gleaned from the early freewheeling Alberta sessions as a basis. However, the meetings still produced few valuable ideas or suggestions. When it came time to form problem-busting teams, Howard thought it might be a good idea to let the groups select their own leaders, as a way to encourage greater involvement and commitment among the Colorado workers. The leaders were given the same training that had been provided in Alberta. However, although a few of the problem-busting teams solved important problems, none of them showed the kind of commitment and enthusiasm Howard had seen in Alberta. In addition, the Colorado workers refused to participate in softball games and other team-building exercises that her team developed for them. Howard finally convinced some workers to join in a softball game by bribing them with free food and beer, but the first game ended with a fight between two operations workers and a group of engineers. "If just had a Carlos Debrito in Colorado, things would go a lot more smoothly," Howard thought. "These workers don't trust us the way workers in Alberta trusted him." It seemed that no matter how hard Howard and her team tried to make the project work in Colorado, morale continued to decline and conflicts between the different groups of workers actually seemed co increase. Algoma Howard and Carlos Debrito phased in permanent cross-functional teams in Alberta. What types of teams are the "fireside chats" and "problem-busting teams"? Through what stage or stages of team development did these groups evolve?
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Walmart Part Five: Leading "Ordinary People" Do Extraordinary Things at Walmart Give me a W! Give me an A! Give me an L! Give me a squiggly! Give me an M! Give me an A! Give me an R! Give me a T! What's that spell? Walmart! Whose Walmart is it? It's my Walmart! Who's number one? The customer! Always! The Walmart cheer is a powerful symbol of Walmart's team spirit and business philosophy rolled, into one. Sam Walton got the idea while watching workers perform a motivational cheer and group calisthenics at a Korean tennis ball factory. Seeing workers bond through a group activity impressed Walton, and the Walmart founder brought the routine back home to Arkansas. What might have fizzled or become an old piece of company trivia gained momentum, and today the Walmart cheer is a hit all over again at Walmart's internarional stores. In Japan, associates shout, "Whose Seiyu is it? It's My Seiyu." In the U.K., "Whose ASDA is it? It's my ASDA!" The translations differ, but in every place the message is the same; The customer is number one, always. Or as they shout in Argentina, "El Cliente Siempre!" Walmart's ongoing commitment to work and play is a reflection of Sam Waltons own leadership style. The first Walmart leader once said, "Just because we work hard, we don't have to go around with long faces." And Mr. Sam meant it. The iconic American businessman famously donned a grass skirt and did a hula dance on Wall Street after losing a bet with top executive David Glass. Walton later recalled the event: "I thought I would slip down there and dance, and David Glass would videotape it so he could prove to everyone back at the Saturday morning meeting that I really did it; but when we got there, it turned out David had hired a truckload of real hula dancers and ukulele players-and he had alerted the newspapers and TV networks." Although clearly not prepared for his big premiere as a hula entertainer, Walton seized the moment: "I slipped on the grass skirt and the Hawaiian shirt and the leis over my suit and did what I think was a pretty fair hula. It was too good a picture to pass up, I guess-this crazy chairman of the board from Arkansas in this silly costume-and it ran everywhere." To Walton, the stunt contained an important business lesson: "At Walmart, when you make a bet like I did... you always pay up." The good times continue at Walmart, and so do hard work and achievement. For many employees, seeing peers rewarded for a job well done proves highly motivational. In 2009, Shawnalyn Conner was one of hundreds of store managers selected to launch a next-generation Walmart store. Conner had joined Walmart as a temporary sales associate only a decade earlier, and now she was responsible for turning a 176,000-square-foot warehouse in Weaverville, North Carolina, into a decked-out retail operation complete with grocery, vision center, photo kiosk, pharmacy, and 30 merchandise departments. The newly minted manager got to work recruiting 350 new associates, and Conner initiated all hires with the same cheer she herself learned a decade earlier. "What we look for in a Walmart associate is someone who's extroverted and loves to deal with customers," Conner said about the recruiting effort. Not surprisingly, it is Conner's own journey from temporary worker to leader of a $70-million-per-year store that interests trainees most. "I started with the company when I was 19," Conner tells her recruits, "And to say now that I'm 31 and run a multi-million-dollar facility is amazing." The message to the new employees is clear: Stick with Walmart and you're going places. It's the Walmart way. Executives at Walmart refer to the company as one big family. There are no grunts or gophers-no employee, no matter how new, is thought of as low person on the totem. According to the company's "open door" policy, all associates are encouraged to speak freely, share concerns, and express ideas for improving daily operations. In return, they can expect managers to treat all discussions fairly with an open mind. The policy is right out of Walton's playbook. "Listen to your associates," Walton urged. "They're the best idea generators" The founders wisdom is routinely reaffirmed through the oft- repeated quote that "nothing constructive happens in Bentonville"-a reference to Walmart headquarters. In Walton's grass-roots ethic, local employees are the ones most likely to produce fresh ideas. At the end of the day, managers at Walmart don't look to superstars to make the big play. The Walmart philosophy argues that whenever ordinary people act together to pursue common goals, they can achieve the extraordinary. "What makes ordinary people do extraordinary things?" Sam Walton once asked his people. "Aren't we a group of ordinary folks? We really are. And I think we, together as a team, have done extraordinary things... we've all accomplished much more than any of us ever thought that we could." What tools does Walmart use to motivate employees? How might a lack of motivation affect associates and how should managers respond?
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Walmart Part Five: Leading "Ordinary People" Do Extraordinary Things at Walmart Give me a W! Give me an A! Give me an L! Give me a squiggly! Give me an M! Give me an A! Give me an R! Give me a T! What's that spell? Walmart! Whose Walmart is it? It's my Walmart! Who's number one? The customer! Always! The Walmart cheer is a powerful symbol of Walmart's team spirit and business philosophy rolled, into one. Sam Walton got the idea while watching workers perform a motivational cheer and group calisthenics at a Korean tennis ball factory. Seeing workers bond through a group activity impressed Walton, and the Walmart founder brought the routine back home to Arkansas. What might have fizzled or become an old piece of company trivia gained momentum, and today the Walmart cheer is a hit all over again at Walmart's internarional stores. In Japan, associates shout, "Whose Seiyu is it? It's My Seiyu." In the U.K., "Whose ASDA is it? It's my ASDA!" The translations differ, but in every place the message is the same; The customer is number one, always. Or as they shout in Argentina, "El Cliente Siempre!" Walmart's ongoing commitment to work and play is a reflection of Sam Waltons own leadership style. The first Walmart leader once said, "Just because we work hard, we don't have to go around with long faces." And Mr. Sam meant it. The iconic American businessman famously donned a grass skirt and did a hula dance on Wall Street after losing a bet with top executive David Glass. Walton later recalled the event: "I thought I would slip down there and dance, and David Glass would videotape it so he could prove to everyone back at the Saturday morning meeting that I really did it; but when we got there, it turned out David had hired a truckload of real hula dancers and ukulele players-and he had alerted the newspapers and TV networks." Although clearly not prepared for his big premiere as a hula entertainer, Walton seized the moment: "I slipped on the grass skirt and the Hawaiian shirt and the leis over my suit and did what I think was a pretty fair hula. It was too good a picture to pass up, I guess-this crazy chairman of the board from Arkansas in this silly costume-and it ran everywhere." To Walton, the stunt contained an important business lesson: "At Walmart, when you make a bet like I did... you always pay up." The good times continue at Walmart, and so do hard work and achievement. For many employees, seeing peers rewarded for a job well done proves highly motivational. In 2009, Shawnalyn Conner was one of hundreds of store managers selected to launch a next-generation Walmart store. Conner had joined Walmart as a temporary sales associate only a decade earlier, and now she was responsible for turning a 176,000-square-foot warehouse in Weaverville, North Carolina, into a decked-out retail operation complete with grocery, vision center, photo kiosk, pharmacy, and 30 merchandise departments. The newly minted manager got to work recruiting 350 new associates, and Conner initiated all hires with the same cheer she herself learned a decade earlier. "What we look for in a Walmart associate is someone who's extroverted and loves to deal with customers," Conner said about the recruiting effort. Not surprisingly, it is Conner's own journey from temporary worker to leader of a $70-million-per-year store that interests trainees most. "I started with the company when I was 19," Conner tells her recruits, "And to say now that I'm 31 and run a multi-million-dollar facility is amazing." The message to the new employees is clear: Stick with Walmart and you're going places. It's the Walmart way. Executives at Walmart refer to the company as one big family. There are no grunts or gophers-no employee, no matter how new, is thought of as low person on the totem. According to the company's "open door" policy, all associates are encouraged to speak freely, share concerns, and express ideas for improving daily operations. In return, they can expect managers to treat all discussions fairly with an open mind. The policy is right out of Walton's playbook. "Listen to your associates," Walton urged. "They're the best idea generators" The founders wisdom is routinely reaffirmed through the oft- repeated quote that "nothing constructive happens in Bentonville"-a reference to Walmart headquarters. In Walton's grass-roots ethic, local employees are the ones most likely to produce fresh ideas. At the end of the day, managers at Walmart don't look to superstars to make the big play. The Walmart philosophy argues that whenever ordinary people act together to pursue common goals, they can achieve the extraordinary. "What makes ordinary people do extraordinary things?" Sam Walton once asked his people. "Aren't we a group of ordinary folks? We really are. And I think we, together as a team, have done extraordinary things... we've all accomplished much more than any of us ever thought that we could." How would you characterize the leadership of Walmart founder Sam Walton?
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Some people argue that the presence of an outside threat correlates with a high degree of team cohesion. Would you agree or disagree? Explain your answer.
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