Successful teams grow and develop over time. That development starts with clarifying the team’s purpose (Kahn, 2009). This can be a natural step to overlook as a work team, as one might assume that everyone is simply on the team as their manager assigned them a task. While this is true, teams must flesh out their deeper purpose to ensure all members are committed to the same end. Let’s go back to our document approval team. When this team was given the task, each individual completed the job without any consistency among them. Here lies the first of many problems, according to Kahn’s work. Without a clear mission, the team is directionally lost.
Kahn (2009) also notes that a significant piece of team development is figuring out how the teamwork gets done and the division of labor. For the document approval team, disregarding this step was a significant bump in the road. Had the group discussed a delegation of work, it may have come to light ahead of time that Chloe and Anthony would not have the capacity to complete the same number of approvals as others on the team. From that conversation, alternative plans could have been made. After that discussion, there should have been a discussion centered on how the group will communicate throughout the project’s completion. There is potential for people to act based on misguided assumptions about other’s thoughts or intentions due to a lack of communication (Kahn, 2009). Based on Daniel and Traci’s reaction to the discovery of the number of documents in their teammates’ queues, there is no doubt that communication was an issue.
For this team to be the most effective, I would suggest members begin any new project with a group discussion. The goal of the conversation should be to orient themselves to the project’s mission and their expectations of each other. While they are on a team together based on their employment, that is not their sole mission. Out of this discussion, it might come to light that their mission is to help others by quickly reviewing all documents as document approval is a part of an insurance claim process and ensures clients get the care they need. This central mission might urge them to come up with alternative plans to account for possible delays from team members’ other work obligations. A team developmental conversation at the start of any new project can help the team meet their goals with fewer performance concerns.
Another way to analyze this team is by utilizing the structural leadership orientation frame. Getting the organizational structure right requires understanding the group’s mission and the actions necessary (Bolman & Deal, 2017). The structural frame is a way to navigate the division of labor and understand each individual’s role on the team. For this team, the all-channel network appears to be the most appropriate structure. According to Bolman and Deal (2017), all-channel is a structure in which information can flow freely, and decisions are made collectively. It is important to note that this structure works well when team members have well-developed communication skills. Having and utilizing a structure can help the group facilitate discussions regarding the completion of the project without a formalized structure communication will break down, and quality and timeliness of work will be impacted.
Bolman, L. & Deal, T. (2017). Reframing organizations. Jossey-Bass
Kahn, W. A. (2009). The student’s guide to successful project teams. Routledge.