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1 - Evaluate the effectiveness of the organisation and of self in managing individuals to achieve organisational goals and objectives
Evaluate the effectiveness of managing individuals in your own organisation to achieve organisational goals and objectives by doing the following:
Evaluating the effectiveness of the organisation in managing individuals to achieve its stated goals and objectives
The main method used by my organisation to manage individuals is appraisals. These can take the form of regular monthly reviews or quarterly / six-monthly appraisals, depending on the individual's department. For example, Sales agents receive monthly reviews while the Contract Administrator is reviewed every six months (the IT Technician is only reviewed annually).
The three main purposes of our appraisals are to review past performance, to help improve current performance, and to set future performance objectives. A fourth objective also exists, to assess development needs, but this is not considered to be as important as the first three so is given very little attention during appraisals.
In reviewing the effectiveness of my organisation in its use of appraisals, I've considered Bernardin's assumptions about the general appraisal system, and related them to my organisation as follows:
1 - The line manager is not only the best source of information on an employee's performance, but is a sufficient source of information as well.
The way my organisation conducts appraisals tends to agree with this statement. The line manager reviewing the performance will often gather other sources of data (such as statistics on calls and sales), but doesn't actually consult with anyone else before preparing the appraisal.
In some ways I agree with this statement, as other than the line manager, who else would be a better source of information? There will of course be other sources, such as colleagues or other managers who may have observed some behaviour, or even the individual themselves for explanations or clarification, but of all these people surely the line manager should still be the best source. However, to say that the line manager is a sufficient source is not necessarily true, as the other individuals mentioned above may have valuable information to be considered.
2 - Appraisals must be kept as simple as possible so that they do not interfere with the most important duties of the line manager.
This statement is not true of my organisation as the appraisals tend to be quite detailed and cover as many aspects of performance as possible (especially for those individuals in the Sales team who have a large number of KPI targets).
I also disagree with the statement and think that my organisation has the correct view, as surely appraising staff is one of the most important duties of a line manager.
3 - Appraisals should be done every six months or once a year.
My organisation's view of appraisals completely agrees with this statement. Only the Sales team currently have monthly reviews, and the Contract Manager is petitioning the rest of the management ream to reduce these to quarterly. Other departments are already on six-monthly reviews, with several individuals (Paul, Dave and Mel) on annual reviews. However, this may in fact be due to my manager's own personal dislike of conducting performance reviews rather than it being a genuine business consideration.
I completely disagree with the premise and with my organisation's approach. It totally contradicts the principles of identifying and dealing with problems early, and regularly reinforcing good performance. Also, getting feedback on something done eleven months earlier has absolutely no meaning for the individual involved.
4 - The rater can accurately recall each employee's performance over a long period of time.
As with the previous statement, my organisation (or perhaps more specifically the Contract Manager) advocates this premise, and believes that as long as some sort of regular diary is kept, there should be no problem in recalling events up to a year later.
Again I completely disagree. There's a massive difference between simply copying an old diary entry into a review and actually being able to fully remember the exact details so that a proper discussion can take place.
5 - Appraisals should be done on individual performance rather than on work units or groups.
This is a mixed statement for my organisation as being a sales-focussed call centre means that most performance is indeed down to the individual. In the past certain criteria of Sales agent reviews (such as the number of calls and sales) were reviewed against those of other team members (taking the call-centre or team average as a benchmark), but this is no longer the case. However, where other (non-Sales) individuals are involved in teams, the overall performance of the team is normally considered when conducting appraisals (such as in the teams involved in the Relocation project or the ISDN-Reconfiguration project).
I believe that my organisation is using the correct approach, as wherever teams are involved, the overall team performance has to be a consideration. Rating only the performance of the individuals involved detracts from the group as a whole, and may lead to inter-competition developing, resulting in a less cohesive team.
6 - A grasp of an employee's overall or average level of performance is sufficient.
This statement is not true in relation to my organisation, as reviews and appraisals are quite detailed, as already stated. Even the longer-term (annual) appraisals have detailed goals and objectives.
Again I think that my organisation has this correct and the above premise is flawed, as surely as many aspects of an individual's performance as possible are necessary to accurately appraise them.
7 - All raters are motivated to rate accurately.
This statement is definitely not true in relation to my organisation. An obvious example involves supervisors who are themselves reviewed on their own team's overall performance. I've seen Simon and Mandi give their team members very favourable scores during call-monitoring, when clearly some of the key areas of the call have not been met. They have also been lenient in other areas (that aren't taken directly from statistical reports), such as punctuality. This practice is not just limited to supervisors, as managers have a contractual interest in departments doing well, so may be inclined to emphasise good performance while steering away from poor performance. An example of this is Lynne reporting to our client on sales-errors and intentionally omitting any that fall into a certain criteria (such as 'in-dispute') so that figures hit KPI's.
I may not agree with the ethics of this practice, but I do agree that the way in which my organisation operates is probably duplicated in many other organisations. The initial premise that 'all raters are motivated to rate accurately' is far too limiting and so is simply not true.
8 - Raters can accurately judge the potential of employees.
This statement implies that an individual's line manager should be responsible for deciding what future tasks or projects the individual may be suitable for. On the whole I don't think my organisation supports this premise, as duties are assigned on the basis of past performance, not future conjecture. However, I also think that certain department heads (in particular the Contract Manager and Customer Services Manager) may have been guilty of doing exactly this, and have overlooked individuals based on their own gut feelings.
Personally I don't agree with the statement, as even though raters may be able to surmise what an individual may or may not be suitable for, that would only be their opinion, and could not possibly be accurate.
It has already been stated that my organisation's appraisals have multiple purposes, but do they all get met? There is a danger that having too many objectives in one single reviewing method means that none of them end up being served well. In my organisation's case, I believe that the three main objectives are all met as they are all based on the same thing (reviewing past performance, improving current performance and setting performance objectives). However, the fourth objective to assess development needs is very low on the reviewer's priorities, so is quite often not met at all.
Randell, Packard and Slater suggest that having multiple purposes in an appraisal may lead to a conflict of interests by those undertaking the process, and propose splitting the appraisal into three separate reviews for performance, potential and reward. I think this could work in my organisation, as the problems associated with the review being too biased on performance would be eliminated by having a separate review that has nothing at all to do with performance. The main disadvantage of this method is the massive time implications it would have for the reviewer.
Another suggested improvement would be to introduce other processes that are ongoing rather than just taking place every six months. An example would be continuous reinforcement of good behaviour (detailed in the next section of this assignment).
Finally, the effective management of individuals to achieve organisational goals is entirely dependent on the organisation's commitment to the appraisal process, and on how seriously the managers take its implementation. If I consider the common problems highlighted by Williams in his appraisal of managing employee performance, I would pick the following items from his list and suggest that my organisation is often guilty of them:
Emphasis on the past clashes with managerial preference for current performance
No organisational commitment to appraisal process ('paper exercise')
Conducting of appraisal not reinforced (e.g. no rewards for managers that carry out appraisals conscientiously)
Appraisals not declared an important managerial function
Lack of adequate knowledge of appraisee's job
Failure to recognise excellent performance
Failure to recognise potential
Failure to build skills through training
Note, this may appear to be quite a large number of failings, but Williams's actual list is far more comprehensive than this.
Analysing own ability to manage individuals to achieve organisational goals and objectives
As a member of the management team I use the organisation's appraisal system on a regular basis. I try to provide as much guidance as possible and make a particular effort regarding further development and training needs, as I'm aware that the reviewing process is lacking in this area. However, I'm also aware that I have my own limitations as well. Many of the employees I have limited contact with due to our geographical locations within the organisation, and even those people within my vicinity can't be observed all of the time, so the appraisals I give may in fact be based on only a partial view of their overall performance. Furthermore, as I'm not responsible for reviewing the Sales team (where performance can be measured against very specific statistical factors) I tend to rate effort and general behaviour, putting an emphasis on how the results are achieved rather than the actual results.
One aspect of managing individuals that I am good at is the concept of managing day-to-day performance. This is an area in which the organisation is lacking, as its emphasis is on formal appraisals, but I find that continually monitoring performance (and giving instant feedback) means that there are no surprises during the actual formal appraisals. The basic concept is that, by guiding staff in a less formal capacity, tasks are not just completed but are done well. By continuously doing this I find that the scheduled formal reviews are a lot more straightforward as all of the topics will have already been discussed at an earlier time.
In managing day-to-day performance, the one method I find most useful is the concept of reinforcing good performance.
Individuals work hard to reach their objectives, so it's reassuring if they can see that I've noticed the effort. People like to hear praise for a job done well and they want to know that I recognise their good work, so as I'm in a position to do this (being a manager), I can recognise the people who, for example, handle a particularly difficult situation well, take the initiative to find a better way of doing their job, or do anything that warrants particular positive attention.
Reinforcement is a deliberate effort by me to praise specific actions or results, and is very easy to deliver, as while bonuses (or pay rises etc) may be out of my control, praise costs nothing. Acknowledging good work can help to determine future performance, as it's a way to ensure effective performance isn't a one-time-only event. Furthermore, recognising only poor performance can be demoralising, while recognising both good and bad can be seen as fair (making it easier to deal with poor performance should it arise).
I find that the most important thing when giving praise is to do so as soon as possible after the event, making it far more effective. Below is a recent example of how I've done this with an individual on my team, split into the five critical steps of reinforcing good performance:
1 - Introduce the topic of good performance.
I took Peter aside and informed him that I was aware of his work regarding the organisation's staff scheduling issues. Peter had used a creative approach using Excel and Access, and had come up with a far more efficient solution, which he then explained to the individual responsible for staff scheduling.
2 - Praise the employee and highlight positive points.
I praised Peter's method and solution, as well as his aptitude for thinking outside the box. I recognised that the new system put the needs of the business above those of any one individual, and I also acknowledged his selflessness, as not only had he set out to find his solution without being asked, but he had also expected no recognition for the results, being content to just pass his work on to the person responsible.
3 - Explain how the good performance benefits the individual, department or organisation as a whole.
I pointed out to Peter that he should feel an enormous sense of pride and achievement, and went on to highlight that our whole team had been thanked for its 'creativity', making us all look good within the organisation. I also pointed out that everyone would now benefit from the more efficient scheduling system.
4 - Ask the employee to comment and listen to their explanation.
Peter modestly explained that he'd simply had an idea that he'd decided to run with, and really didn't think it would be such a big deal. But he was extremely happy with the outcome and very grateful for the acknowledgment.
5 - Thank the employee and encourage repetition of the good performance.
I finished the discussion by again thanking Peter for his contribution, and I assured him that any future good work of this kind would not be overlooked.
2 - Develop and lead teams
Explain how you could develop, lead and evaluate your team by doing the following:
Explaining the importance of direction and values in creating effective teams
The main difference between a group and a team is the concept of shared common goals. Any group of individuals given the task of working together toward a single outcome could be considered a team. However, in order for the members of the team to successfully achieve their goal(s), there needs to be consensus as to what those goals actually are and what methods are appropriate in order to achieve them.
When creating a team it's vital to clarify from the outset precisely what that team's ultimate goal is, i.e. establish its purpose. This purpose can then be further drilled-down by establishing several major functions and objectives, such as:
Distribution and management of work
Coordination and liaison
The use of the organisation's mission statement or company vision is often vital at this stage as they communicate both the purpose and values of the organisation, and provide direction about how individuals are expected to behave. By establishing definitive objectives and boundaries from the start, the team will have a very clear direction. This means that each member of the team will be clear about the overall vision, mission and strategy, and the team will function far more effectively by having everyone focussing in the same direction.
The values of a team provide common ground for its overall culture, and enable team members to function together more cohesively. Values are the principles that the team adheres to (and may again stem from company value statements). Having shared values provides a basis for effective teamwork. Having individuals that don't agree with the overall values could make the team less cohesive and therefore affect overall performance (although having a team of individuals with different values could generate discussion around those values, and may in fact lead to new ways of approaching problems).
Explaining the application of one recognised theory of motivation to teams in own area of operation
In looking at the various motivational techniques available, I decided to consider Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in more detail.
The theory states that all individuals have basic needs and desires, and that some of these are more important than others. Maslow's hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfil their most basic needs first before moving on to other needs. Obviously we all have a very basic need to eat, sleep, etc, but once those needs have been catered for, what do we consider our next need to be?
achievement, respect of others,
respect by others
lack of prejudice,
acceptance of facts
friendship, family, sexual intimacy
security of body, of employment, of resources,
of morality, of the family, of health, of property
breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion
Love / Belonging
Maslow set out a list of needs in the form of a pyramid, with the most fundamental at the bottom and more aspirational needs at the top. The pyramid itself is then broken down into categories. The basic premise is that an individual should start at the bottom and try to achieve those needs set out in the first category, i.e. get the foundations right first. Once these needs have been met, the individual can then work up to the next level and address those needs.
The theory should work as a motivational tool for most people, as once a need is satisfied, the next level emerges as a motivator.
But how would this method work in relation to my own organisation? The key would be in facilitating a move to the next level, i.e. providing a way for individuals to achieve actualisation of a current need and a method to approach the next need. To accomplish this I would suggest the following tools:
Prepare a questionnaire based on the needs highlighted in Maslow's model to gauge where members of the team currently sit in the pyramid (or more accurately, where they think they sit).
By way of a similar method (such as another questionnaire), attempt to find out where the team members would like to be, i.e. what are their aspirations, goals.
Conduct a full and frank discussion with individual team members about their goals. Do they have any long term ultimate goals, what are their short term goals?
Prepare a personal development plan with very specific short term goals and more general long term goals. Where possible the PDP should be in line with business goals, but targets that have nothing to do with the business (such as on a personal level) could also be appropriate.
Suggest various exercises or workshops for improving self confidence, as well as helping with any other 'esteem' based needs.
Encouraging out of work activities would also help with many of the above needs. For example, perhaps we could find a way to supplement gym membership.
The second point is quite an important one, as helping to fulfil needs and motivating people to work towards further needs is not appropriate to everyone. Many people may be content where they are and may not appreciate the added 'pressure' of moving onwards and upwards. The point about setting short term goals is also important, as lots of short term 'achievements' are themselves motivational, and will help with long term goals.
However, there are many flaws with using this theory as a method to motivate my team:
As already mentioned, it may not be appropriate to everyone. Does the model reflect how the majority of workers are motivated or just ambitious ones?
We can only really concentrate on helping to achieve work-related needs, but surely a lot of needs fall outside of work. Some people may realise self-actualisation by simply spending more time with their family.
Once a need has been satisfied, how long will it last? Are we only fulfilling needs on a temporary basis? If this is the case, surely the application of the model will have to continue indefinitely.
Based on the answers given in their questionnaires, do the members of my team sit at a particular level of the pyramid, or will they be trying to fulfil needs from multiple levels at the same time?
Even though there are obvious drawbacks to using this model, I still think it could work as a motivational technique. It's very simplistic and easy to identify with, as everyone has a certain amount of basic need to fulfil.
Explaining the techniques used to evaluate the team's performance
We've already examined some of the techniques used to appraise individual performance, but what about evaluating the team as a whole?
Any team assessment requires certain criteria to be set against which the team can be evaluated. The most appropriate time for setting such standards is when the team is first assembled and the initial goals and objectives are set. As long as we've set the team's purpose and direction, we should be able to rate actual performance against these measures. Specific criteria will depend on these specific goals, but we could measure such things as time taken to achieve targets, amount of work backlog, customer satisfaction rating, quality of meetings (from minutes), assignments completed, progress against overall goal, etc. Good team performance could be viewed as being in line with the overall team goal and direction.
One problem in evaluating a team is that not all targets are instantly achievable, and there are other elements of good teamwork that are far more subjective, such as 'the effectiveness of team meetings' or 'open and honest communication'. But even these elements can be properly evaluated if a suitable system is set up from the outset, such as the following table which I use on my own team:
The Effectiveness of Team Meetings
Rate the team out of four. Give one point for each element where you're satisfied that…
meetings are thoroughly planned in advance and all meetings have a properly prepared agenda
meetings are conducted by a chairperson who keeps the meeting moving at an acceptable pace, and minutes are properly recorded by an appointed note-taker
members of the team give meetings their full attention and are willing to pick up any action points as required
meetings go some way to achieving their objectives (where possible) and are concluded with a review of action points and a draft agenda for any required follow-up meeting
Open and Honest Communication.
Rate the team out of four. Give one point for each element where you're satisfied that all team members…
are comfortable expressing their views and are willing to hear the views of all other team members
communicate openly and honestly with each other, and encourage all other team members to be open and honest
are comfortable providing feedback on each other's performance
acknowledge any possible conflict that may arise and work together to solve it rather than ignore it
When considering the performance of the team as a whole, one other factor for deliberation is the team's effectiveness. An appropriate method for doing this is to consider the traits of effective and ineffective teams as characterised by McGregor.
The method involves carrying out an 'intuitive' audit (i.e. based on nothing more than the auditor's feelings and opinions), and rating the team against each trait in McGregor's list, simply stating whether or not the trait is a strength of the team, happens occasionally, or is completely absent.
If the team is performing particularly well then the majority of the effective traits should be rated as strengths, while most of the ineffective traits should be absent. Given that the majority of teams will probably display a wide mix of traits, a list of the most major strengths and weaknesses could be compiled to highlight the areas in which the team is performing well and those areas that are of concern. An overall team action plan can then be prepared to address any issues.
For example, if I use McGregor's list to look at a team of which I'm a member (the management team), I would draw the following conclusions:
Effective Team Traits
Informal, relaxed, involvement and interest
Leadership role taken by most appropriate person
Lots of discourse, high contribution
Frequent review of group operations
Ineffective Team Traits
Not much concern about group deficiencies
Lack of awareness of decisions, unclear assignments
Domination by few, contributions often lack relevance
(Items in italics are the areas of concern)
Reviewing own ability to develop and lead teams
As part of my efforts to develop the teams that I manage, one technique I adopt is to acknowledge that teams tend to pass through four recognisable stages as they develop into a smooth-running unit. These stages were identified in 1965 by Bruce Tuckman as forming, storming, norming and performing. As part of developing a team, I try to keep these stages in mind and attempt to take appropriate action to guide the team from one stage to the next.
The following is a very brief summary of each stage and what I normally do to encourage my team to move through it:
In the newly established team, members tend to be very polite and guarded in what they say, as if they're testing each other out. This stage is all about the team members trying to establish appropriate behaviour, and will see people focussing on the task at hand and how to do it. Leadership roles won't have been established.
In order to ensure that my team is at this initial stage for as short a time as possible I try to get an idea of their individual behaviours very early on, often by talking to them before the work begins to discuss their thoughts on the team, on what we're trying to do, and on how they prefer to work. Once the team is together I use simple 'ice-breakers' and team building exercises to get everyone communicating. I also try to instil the importance of team values and direction (as discussed earlier), so that everyone is moving in the right direction from the very start.
It's at this stage that team members tend to display the most resistance (to control, to group influence, emotional resistance). Each person may express their opinions on personalities and methods, and will stress their individual needs as they test the boundaries of their roles.
I find that knowing this stage is coming is a great help in moving through it quickly, as I can anticipate where the most resistance will come from and address it before it escalates. I encourage full and frank discussion and invite team members to challenge what's proposed so that boundaries can indeed be tested and then acknowledged.
By this stage the ground rules should have been established and the team should be a lot more cohesive. A group identity should have emerged and the team will tend to have a more open exchange of views.
This is the stage I find the most difficult to move through as team members are a lot more comfortable in their roles and may not be inclined to 'rise to the challenge', which is essentially the final stage. I normally try to apply a bit more pressure to the team and push them to achieve tasks (as achievement is a form of motivation). I'll also try to promote more social interaction as a way of encouraging them to support each other. In the past I've then tested this by throwing in a new 'unexpected challenge' that requires the team to come together to accomplish something 'urgent' (such as an important piece of work with a very short deadline). Perhaps surprisingly this has actually worked for me, and it could almost be considered the 'final test' for the team moving into the last stage.
The final stage is where results tend to be achieved as the social roles should be well established and the energy of the team is channelled into the job. Team members tend to be tolerant, flexible and more supportive of each other.
Getting through all of the above stages to reach this final one may seem like a challenge, but it's worth remembering that Tuckman identified that teams naturally move through these stages anyway. The only challenge is in recognising what stage the team is at and trying to hurry the process along a bit faster.
Another area of team development to consider is the idea of team cohesion. The basic premise is that by making the team as cohesive as possible, the overall performance of the team will be improved. Good performance will then lead to a higher sense of job satisfaction, which in turn will result in a more cohesive team.
Unfortunately my own ability in this area has proved to be quite poor. When trying to make a team as cohesive as possible there are five factors to consider, as demonstrated by the following example of a team that I've managed in the past:
1 - Team size
In my 'criteria re-evaluation team' I had eight individuals, one to research and represent each aspect of the call centre's salary criteria matrix. This team was too large, as I found that individuals split into smaller informal sub-groups, each with their own social cohesion. A smaller team would have been more appropriate (perhaps four, five at the most), as each member would have the opportunity to get to know and interact with every other member.
2 - Equivalent status of team members
My team was mostly made up of Customer Services personnel, with two of them being supervisors (but not in relation to the team). However, the supervisors automatically 'assumed' a leadership role, which created an unofficial 'hierarchy'. Those at the bottom of the hierarchy quickly became resentful of those at the top. This could have been avoided had everyone been of equal or similar status.
3 - Stability of team membership
As cohesion takes time to develop, more stable teams tend to be more cohesive. An individual leaving could take something away from the team (such as a particular skill) while the addition of someone new could bring something unexpected, such as a new personality that doesn't integrate as well with the rest of the team. In my team this wasn't actually a problem as all eight members were present for the full duration of the task.
4 - Individual's personalities
Within my team, those individuals with similar interests tended to stick together and back each other up as informal 'cliques' developed (as stated in 'team size'). A lot of their time was spent chatting about common interests and they became complacent in their work. Conversely, I also had to deal with an argument caused by the clash of two completely opposing personalities. This is actually a difficult area to get right. Similar personalities are likely to be drawn together and should develop a better working relationship, but perhaps you need the odd 'joker' or 'moaner' to encourage discussion with a bit more variety.
5 - External threat
A 'threat' from outside the team is often a good thing as it encourages the team to pull together to face the external issue (such as competition from another team). Unfortunately I'm unable to gauge how my team would have responded to such a situation as no external threat was encountered throughout the team's tenure.