Critical Analysis of Journal Articles

  • Category:
    Management
  • Document type:
    Article
  • Level:
    Masters
  • Page:
    2
  • Words:
    1175

Understanding and Improving Teamwork in Organizations: A Scientifically Based Practical Guide

By Salas et al.

Improving Productivity with Self-Organised Teams and agile leadership

By Parker, Holesgrove and Pathak

A CRITIQUE

Understanding and Improving Teamwork in Organizations: A Scientifically Based Practical Guide

By Salas et al.

According to Salas et al., teams are increasingly becoming necessary in service delivery institutions such as hospitals, flight decks, nuclear power plants and many others. For these teams to work effectively there is heavy reliance of interdependent performance of individual workers. These workers collectively work towards a common goal (Salas et al., 2015: 600). This article provides heuristic considerations for teamwork. It focuses on organizing already known information, ideas and findings into a meaningful, practical and relevant manner. The heuristic basically provides an understanding of the pillars of teamwork especially as to pertains what ought to be considered when selecting, developing and maintaining teams. The article defines a team as a distinguishable set of persons who interact and interdependently work towards the realization of a common goal (Salas et al., 2015: 601). The article considers the vital aspects of a team to include many individuals, the aspect of interdependence and a shared objective. Successful performance of both task work and teamwork is what inspires success for a team. “Task work” refers to the individual specific tasks to be performed by each member of the team. “Teamwork” then refers to the shared behaviours such as what members think their attitudes and approaches that are necessary towards satisfaction of tasks. Both team work and task work are interdependent and core for a successful team (Salas et al., 2015: 604). Of the two, team work is singled out as being important. This is because if team members fail to share their knowledge and fail to trust each other, the team’s objectives will fail.

The article identifies nine considerations for a highly effective team as: co-operation, conflict, co-ordination, communication, coaching, cognition, composition, context and culture. In terms of co-operation, the article emphasizes that team members need to work collectively. Where team members trust each other and believe in their ability to meet set objectives, such team players tend to put in more effort, take more risks, perform better and are generally more satisfied with their tasks. Team member need to trust each other in order to co-operate with one another. Team members need to commit themselves and co-operate towards achieving the objectives of the team. Also, conflict can be disastrous for a team because it could easily lead to errors and delayed performance or no performance at all (Salas et al., 2015: 605). The article defines conflict as perceived incompatibilities in the perspectives, views of team players. Given the potential negative impact that conflicts can have on teamwork, the resolution and management of such ought to be clear. The article suggests that prior to work performance, team leaders should set out guidelines on how conflicts ought to be handled as well as come up with appropriate conflict management strategies (Salas et al., 2015: 606). In terms of co-ordination, it is important to ensure that the roles of each member are first defined in order to guide expectations regarding how to co-ordinate.

The article then classifies the aspects of effective communication as to include sharing of unique information and implementation of information (Salas et al., 2015: 607). Under coaching, the articles recommends that leaders need to diagnose and address the problems of the team as and when they arise (Salas et al., 2015: 608). When it comes to cognition, training and interventions can come in handy in eliminating errors while boosting performance (Salas et al., 2015: 609). In terms of composition, it is important that a team ought to be composed of oriented members and only those who are willing to accomplish the set tasks (Salas et al., 2015: 610). In terms of context, different strategies and approaches ought to be implemented to help shape members’ success (Salas et al., 2015: 611). Lastly, organisations are at a leverage position if they embrace cultural diversity.

The article has generally attempted to give a rubric on how organisations can improve teamwork. It has raised viable arguments and given a nine prong rubric on how to handle the considerations. The article however fails to give real-life situations or examples where these considerations can be applied. It also fails to demonstrate the effect of choosing not to go by these considerations. It would have been more desirable if the authors would have considered a case study in which these considerations have been implemented and discussed the outcome albeit briefly.

Improving Productivity with Self-Organised Teams and agile leadership

By Parker, Holesgrove and Pathak

The article first defines a self-organised team as a semi-regulated team of players who plan, determine and execute their duties with no or minimal supervision (Parker et al., 2015:113). It goes ahead to identify three levels through which teams work i.e. team task level, team maintenance level and the individual needs level. In terms of functionality, it also identifies three levels i.e. dependent level, independent level and the interdependent level (Parker et al., 2015:114). According to the article, a highly effective team is one that achieves highly in terms of performance of tasks and in terms of maintenance of the human resources of the organisation. A self-organised team is recognized by how it handles its decision-making mechanisms, implementation and execution of its decisions and policies, tolerance to tasks, integration of sub-groups into the team and the effectiveness of conflict resolution mechanisms (Parker et al., 2015:120). In addition to the idea of self-organized teams, the article advocates for agile leadership as a way of improving productivity. It advocates for a framework of management for agile leadership rather than the conventional enforcement of a rigid set of rules for team members (Parker et al., 2015:121).

The article is beneficial because it identifies an agile leader as one who adapts to change, sees the team as composed of intelligent people, manages outcomes, has a humanistic approach to problem-solving, and limits planning based on unpredictability. It however limits the measure of a team’s productivity to the agility of the leadership structure in place.

One major difference between the these two articles is this; the first article highlights the importance of “task work” and teamwork as contributing towards effective teamwork; the second team however emphasizes on task performance and management of human resources as factors that contribute towards an effective team. The major similarities here are that both articles identify lack of trust as a drawback to effective team performance. Also, both teams acknowledge the delicate nature and impact of conflicts within teams. Both acknowledge that effective conflict resolution and management goes a long way into improving teamwork in organisations.

References

Parker, D.W., Holesgrove, M. and Pathak, R. (2015). Improving productivity with self-organised teams and agile leadership. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management 64(1), 112-128.

Salas, E., Shuffler, M.L.,Thayer, A.L., Bedwell W.L. and Lazzara, E.H. (2015). Understanding and improving teamwork in organisations: A scientifically based practical guide. Human Resource Management 54(4), 599-622.