The discussion regarding the characteristics of the new project group was very revealing. I felt that all the respondents felt the same regarding the options presented for which type of group the new project team modeled. Personally, I went outside the definition of the question and chose self-managed work team. There were three elements that factored into this choice. First, the group is made of members from several different departments. This means it is not a command group. Additionally, the group has been convened to take care of projects as they come up. Therefore, it is not focused on a single project like a task force. Finally, the scenario does not describe a leader being assigned to the group. Therefore, the most natural selection seems to be self-managed work team (George & Jones, 2008).
Even though the group does not have a defined leader, that doesn’t mean the group is not willing to accept leadership from within. According to Rensis Likert (1961) groups are most effective when the members are loyal to each other and confident in each other’s abilities. Therefore, one way to increase the effectiveness of the group is to work to instill confidence in each member. Confidence is built over time as members are allowed to make decisions and others see the good results of those decisions. Eventually, each group member knows that they can rely on their teammates to successfully achieve their responsibilities or effectively communicate their needs.
The most effective way to increase process gains is to increase each member’s motivation. Although motivation is often considered the responsibility of a manager, it is possible for the self-managed work team to motivate itself. A study at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources found that two-thirds of respondents felt that recognition was an important part of their job satisfaction. Although the new project team may not have the financial resources to reward employee performance, it definitely has the ability to recognize each member for their contributions (Dessler, 2008). Therefore, in order to increase process gains, it is recommended that each group member take an active role in recognizing the contributions of each team member.
One problem with recognizing the contribution of group members is that some members’ contributions are more obvious than others. For example, the individual that delivers presentations is obviously contributing. Unfortunately, the researchers behind the presentation may not receive their just recognition. Since it is not generally acceptable for group members to point out their own contributions, it is necessary for all group members to work to identify contributions that happen “behind the scenes.” In the previous example, the presenter should make sure the project group knows whose research went into the presentation. Although this seems like a minor detail, this recognition is vital for the healthy operation of the team. If one member consistently takes credit for the work of others, those members that are doing the work will begin to resent the other member. Additionally, if the team does not realize the input of all members, it may begin to question why each member is on the team.
Dessler, G. (2008). Human resource management (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
George, J. M., & Jones G. R. (2008). Understanding and managing organizational behavior (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Likert, R. (1961). New patterns of management. New York: McGraw-Hill.