Team Dynamics and Communication Case Study

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Task 1 – The Scenario

Incubox Enterprise is a manufacturer and retailer of egg incubators in the Philippines.  It is composed of several employees working together in order to achieve a good sales performance.  Maricel and Kristine are the sales agents.  They are the people in-charge in advertising and selling of incubators.  They use the internet specifically the social media and other trading sites to reach out to potential buyers within and outside the Philippines.  Once the buyer has confirmed their order and payment, the two sales agents will inform Joey, who would then make job orders for the carpenters, Lemuel and Retchie.  After the carpenters have assembled the incubators they will give it to Allan, who is the installer of wirings and thermostat and then after installation, the finished product will be checked by the quality assurance officer, Eugene.  He makes sure that everything is working out fine before he passes it to Remy, the store keeper who then is responsible for the packing of units making it ready for shipment or pick up by the buyer.

Maricel and Kristine are the key personnel who transact with customers on a day to day basis.  They talk and deal with customers and to do this, they must have a good product knowledge.  They must know how cite its benefits and advantages over competitors.  They have acquired this skill by learning how to use and operate the incubators because without knowing it, it will be impossible for them to persuade customers to buy their products.  Their aim is to sell as many incubators as possible because they get a 10% commission for every unit sold.  Likewise with Lemuel, Retchie and Allan.  They are being paid per product output.  So the more incubator they could produce, the bigger is their take home pay.  In order for them to produce more, they should work fast but in a way that it will not compromise the quality of the product.  And for them to make this possible, they explored on other techniques and made their own strategies in fabrication.  On the other hand, Joey, Eugene and Remy are being paid on a fixed monthly salary regardless of how many incubators were sold.  This made them feel envious with their co-employees because they compared what they are getting against the others.  The issue about their pay had their relationship emotionally impaired.  This affected the normal process of making and selling incubators.  Joey, Eugene and Remy did not try to talk to the owner about how they feel.  They just expressed their protest through negative work attitude.  This alarmed the owner and thought of having a team building activity instead of just a meeting.  He informed everyone about his plan and to make sure that everyone got the message, he asked for a reply as confirmation.    The team building activity was effective that the 3 concerned employees voiced out their sentiments while the others listen.  Since the activity went well and successful, at the end, they resolved the conflict and start working as a team again.

Task 2 – A critical discussion of the scenario

 

Learning and Reinforcement:

Learning is a series of steps where one can obtain the ability that could affect his or her performance in an organization (Wood et al. 2013).  Through learning, people will create a distinct behaviour in their work place which they think and feel is appropriate.  Learning happens all the time and it is a result of experience (Robbins & Judge 2013).  All employees in these scenario has their own area of specializations that they have acquired throughout their experiences.  The sales agents learned how to operate the incubators and they use their product knowledge as a weapon in selling their products.  And to be able to advertise and market it, they need a technology which can connect them to a lot of possible buyers. In this era, we are now using the internet.  Internet is connected to the world by the use of computers (George & Jones 2012).  And it is really very helpful in making our lives easier but we should also know our limitations when using it.  In this scenario, the sales agent uses the social media and other trading sites to promote their products.  Social Learning is when you learn from other people and from the environment.  Here, the sales agents learned from the internet which is a part of their environment. The carpenters on the other hand have also learned how to fabricate incubators by using several techniques and strategies which they have learned through their experiences but uses their cognitive ability in thinking of other methods or strategies on how to make incubators faster.  These is an example of Cognitive Learning Theory which explains how thinking are influenced by internal and external factors in order for individuals to learn (Mullins 2010).  The carpenters did not stick to the basics but tried to explore on other ways and means.

Operant Conditioning Theory explains that one is aware of the possible consequences of their action (Luthans 2011).  Along with operant conditioning is Reinforcement because it will define or affect the behaviour whether it is positive or negative as a result of the consequence (Wood et al. 2013).  The employees in the scenario are motivated to sell and make incubators because they know that the more incubators are being made and sold, the higher will their salary be.  The consequence of their hard work is the good amount of salary that they get.  It is a positive reinforcement because there is a positive consequence.  And they keep on repeating this behaviour having compensation as their motivation.  But motivating people to be a good and productive employees is complicated because we need to understand that people’s drive are influenced by so many factor (ed Gibson 2011).  In this case, Rewards in terms of pay is one of the most important factor. Pay is a unique reward that can satisfy many different needs which includes psychological need for food and symbolic value satisfying higher-order needs such as ego fulfilment.  In this case, Joey, Eugene and Remy compared their pay against the other employees and they felt that it was unfair because others are getting much higher remuneration than what they are putting in their pockets.  They believe that that their tasks are equally important in achieving high sales performance that is why they are also expecting a fair compensation from the management.  Equity Theory is based on the idea that individuals are motivated by fairness, and if they identify inequities among their co-employees, they will get demotivated and will only work according to what they think corresponds to what they get, an outcome/input ratio (George & Jones 2012).  Dissatisfaction with pay will lead to unwanted behaviour like absenteeism, tardiness and it may sometimes affect he physical and mental health of a person (Robbins & Judge 2013).  But since the owner wanted to eliminate these negative consequences, he agreed to give them a Merit Pay or the increase in salary based on a person’s accomplishment during a specified period of time (Wood et al. 2013).

Team Dynamics:

Team are number of people who do things together with one goal and takes any responsibility as a group and they can be highly effective when they collaborate well (Wood et al. 2013).  In order to be called a Team, they should be operating in 3 levels.

  1. Team task level is where they are organized to deliver a common goal.  In this scenario, each employee has different tasks but they comprises a team.  They have individual responsibilities to perform but they know that their responsibility is part of the team’s success.
  2. Individual needs level explains that each individual has his own personal needs that can influence a team and his particular task.  They need to have a clear definition of their purpose and how are their contribution be acknowledged.  Failure to meet these needs may retard the operation.  What happened in the scenario was that the individual needs of Joey, Remy and Eugene were not met that almost led to the withdrawal and non-participation to the team.  They felt that their purpose and their contributions were not acknowledged properly because they were not given equal treatment as to paying scheme is concerned.
  3. Team maintenance level is when they have already built a relationship and they are aware that they are a team.  Everybody in Incubox is already working together for years that’s why they have already built rapport, trusted one another and aware that they are a team.  But it was also in this level that their team was put into a test due to equity reasons.

Team dynamics is the behavioural relationship between members of a group that are assigned connected task within a company.  If each job in the scenario are connected, then the employees carrying out these jobs are interdependent with each other as well.  They trusted each other’s ability to deliver a successful task.

Cohesiveness is the extent by which a member remains to be part of a team (Wood et al. 2013).  Somewhere along the way, Incubox’s team cohesiveness was endangered when the 3 concerned employees almost abandoned their roles in the team.  So when the owner noticed the dilemma, he did not just call for a simple meeting, but he planned a team building.  Team building is the most common “group development intervention” today (Klein et al. 2009).  It is more effective in expressing emotions because they can create a bond aside from just working relationship.  The owner valued every effort that this employee does and he wants to replace it with trust.  He wants his employees to trust him when he says that he value them and to prove this, he come up with a resolution which is favourable to everyone, thus eliminating any negative factor brought about inequity issues.  Team building activities make it easier for the members to express their feelings because of trust.  When members learn to work together, they can be the strongest, and that is the secret to the most successful team.  When they know their roles and their goals and they have mutual respect and trust with each other (De Meuse 2009).  This scenario depicts a team that does not want rivalry.  Though rivalry, envy and jealousy are inevitable in a team, it will always be proper work attitude and ethics that will help eliminate it.  If the sales agents and the carpenters have not built any rapport or working relationship and do not trust Joey, Remy and Eugene, then the team’s foundation may have fall down.  But since they also believe that the roles of these three people are important, they set aside any negative mindset and agreed to give them whatever is due them.  I believe that it is what teams are all about… it’s not I…but it’s US.

Communication:

Communication is “the process of transmitting information and common understanding from one person to another” (Lunenburg 2010).  There are five elements in the general process of communication:  the communicator or the one sending the message, the message is the thing you want your receiver to understand, the medium or the way how you send the message, the receiver is whom you sent the message and feedback is the response (ed Gibson 2011).  In an organization it is very important that each member understand each other and they can only do this if they have an effective communication process amongst them.  Effective communication is when the receiver understands what the sender is trying to imply.  It is very important because it is the key in eliminating problems in an organization (George & Jones 2012). It should be clear and concise.  One problem that managers encounter leading to poor communication process is the presence of “noise” factor.  Noise is a kind of disturbances that leads to miscommunication.  Some of these Noise factors are the barrier process, physical barriers, personal barriers, and semantic barriers (Widhiastuti 2012).  In the scenario, it was the personal barrier that hindered effective communication.  When Joey, Eugene and Remy hesitated to express their thoughts and feelings by telling the owner how they actually feel about their paying scheme is their own personal barrier.  They just expressed their feelings through protest and negative work attitude.  They used non-verbal gestures which sometimes are misinterpreted because these also transmit messages (Lunenburg 2010).  The message is vague because it can depict a different meaning.  Apparently in this scenario, the owner is a good receiver and he translated the message that these three employees are trying to insinuate.  The consequence of a good communication is successful leadership (Ruben & Gigliotti 2017).  He got the message clearly and hence made a way to respond positively to it.  He also sent a message to everyone and to make sure that they got the message clearly he asked for their reply or their feedback.  This is an example of Reflective Listening which is a skill every managers should possess because this will help them understand the diversity of people present in a team and will teach them how to deal with it.  It is a communication strategy where the speaker is trying convey a message and the receiver will echo the message to the speaker in a manner how he or she understood it.  It is also a means to check if the message was given out correctly.  The owner used “text” message to disseminate the information.  Text message is a modern, easier and faster way of sending messages.  It is one of the channels used in delivering messages.  Channel is a medium used in delivering messages (Wood et al. 2013).  It is also very important that the sender is using the appropriate channel when giving out messages because improper channel defeat the effectiveness of communication.  In this scenario, not all employees have access to electronic mails but the owner knows that everybody now a days are using mobile phones that is why he finds texting the most convenient way to communicate with his employees.  He is aware that though it is convenient, it has some limitations like signal problems that is why to eliminate it he imposed a two-way communication.  Two way communication is when there is an interaction between the sender and the receiver.  It is much appreciated in an organization because it leads solving any problem and appropriate decision making.  Unlike One-way communication where there is no room nor chance of deliberating any response because it is just sending message without any interaction.

In this scenario, it showed how important communication is like in any other organization.  The owner used all the five elements that should be present in a good communication process and was able to translate the non-verbal gestures of his employees because he possess reflective listening skills.  The dilemma was also resolved because there was interaction which helped them understand each other.

Task 3 – Table of Recommendations

ACTIONS

RATIONALE

LEARNING AND REINFORCEMENT

Innovate and give out continuous learning process to employees.

Since Incubox Enterprise is engaged in manufacturing they should innovate once in a while to catch up with competitors. In this generation, if a company wants to stay in the market, it’s a must to innovate  (Cropley & Cropley 2015).                                                                                                                                                                                     Innovation is also a learning process  because you are trying to improve your existing product (Beckman & Barry 2007). If there is innovation there is also something new for Incubox employees to learn especially the sales agents because they are the key person who will introduce this innovation to the market.  They should have good grasp of the new product knowledge and to do this, they should have proper trainings. Same with the carpenters, because they need to think of other ways in making incubators brought about by innovation.  They should be knowledgeable on how each part works so that they could manufacture it properly.

TEAM DYNAMICS

Assign a Team Leader

Self-managing team are group of people who can do their job with least or no supervision at all (Wood et al. 2013).  Incubox Enterprise is a self-managing team who just do their job based on their job descriptions.  But since the owner who also acts as the manager is not always on site to assist them, it is best if they will have a team leader who will always be physically present to look after their concerns.  If they have a team leader, petty conflicts or small problems can be addressed immediately.

COMMUNICATION

Conduct regular meetings.

It would be helpful if the owner would make time to communicate and meet with them once in a while not only when he perceive something is wrong.  Regular meetings would develop open communication because they will have the opportunity to open up about their thoughts and feelings and would therefore help in resolving, if its unavoidable, possible conflicts (Tulsky 2005).  Regular meetings will also help the company or the organization look into other possible growth by exchanging ideas.  Most of all, regular meetings will also be great time for bonding and relationship building.

List of References 

Beckman, SL & Barry, M 2007, ‘Innovation as a learning process: Embedding design thinking’, California management review, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 25–56.

Cropley, D & Cropley, A 2015, The Psychology of Innovation in Organizations – Books24x7, viewed 21 April 2017, <http://library.books24x7.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/assetviewer.aspx?bookid=93224&chunkid=912901274&rowid=22>.

De Meuse, KP 2009, ‘Driving team effectiveness’, A comparative analysis of the Korn/Ferry T7 model with other popular team, viewed 12 April 2017, <https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1279/7f339d3103985ee336ffb892740d79f09a5c.pdf>.

George, JM & Jones, GR 2012, Understanding and managing organizational behavior, 6th ed, Prentice Hall, Boston.

Gibson, JL (ed.) 2011, Organizations: behavior, structure, processes, 14th ed, McGraw-Hill, Dubuque, IA.

Klein, C, DiazGranados, D, Salas, E, Le, H, Burke, CS, Lyons, R & Goodwin, GF 2009, ‘Does Team Building Work?’, Small Group Research, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 181–222.

Lunenburg, FC 2010, ‘Communication: The process, barriers, and improving effectiveness’, Schooling, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1–11.

Luthans, F 2011, Organizational behavior: an evidence-based approach, 12th ed, McGraw-Hill Irwin, New York.

Mullins, LJ 2010, Management and organisational behaviour, 9. ed, Financial Times Prentice Hall, Harlow.

Robbins, SP & Judge, T 2013, Organizational behavior, 15th ed, Pearson, Boston.

Ruben, BD & Gigliotti, RA 2017, ‘Communication: Sine Qua Non of Organizational Leadership Theory and Practice’, International Journal of Business Communication, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 12–30.

Tulsky, JA 2005, ‘Beyond advance directives: importance of communication skills at the end of life’, Jama, vol. 294, no. 3, pp. 359–365.

Widhiastuti, H 2012, ‘The Effectiveness of Communications in Hierarchical Organizational Structure’, International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, vol. 2, no. 3, p. 185.

Wood, J, Zeffane, R, Fromholtz, M, Wiesner, R, Morrison, R & Seet, P-S 2013, Organizational Behavior Core Concepts and Applications, 3rd Edition, Wiley, Australia.

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