Team Management Systems
 

Team Management: Practical New Approaches


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Team Management: Practical New Approaches

Authors: Charles Margerison & Dick McCann
Management Books 2000 Ltd
ISBN: 1-85252-114-7
(155 pages, paperback)

US$28.00
AUD$35.00

Review

 

Practical New Approaches contains all you need to know about Team Management Systems to convince you that Margerison and McCann are THE teamwork specialists.

The authors have drawn on the original findings of Carl Jung and adapted his concepts to the workplace. The heart of this system is the two colored Wheels: the Types of Work Wheel and the Team Management Wheel. These Wheels aid self-understanding, teamwork, career development, communication and leadership.

The book is full of case studies and examples of how the Team Management System can be used in any organization or team. It contains information on why teams fail and advice on how those teams can be inspired to perform.

The revolutionary set of techniques described in this book is backed by research. The reliability and validity studies, together with comparisons to other management development instruments are explained in an easy to understand format.

The unique system the authors created will give you an insight into how people can work together effectively with a shared understanding of teamwork. If you need help with your teams, then this is the book for you.

Extract

 

Copyright © 1990, 1995 Charles Margerison and Dick McCann


Work teams - the key work functions

If organizational work teams need a balance to be ‘the best’ - then what should this balance consist of? To answer this question we embarked on a research study to characterize the key work activities that need to go on in a team if it is to be effective. We talked with many ‘high-performing’ teams and listened to what they had to say about the way they approached their work.

In the end we were able to identify nine key activities or ‘work functions’ that need to be present if the team is to optimize its performance. These work functions are generic and are independent of the technical functions that may have to go on in the team. Therefore they apply to all teams, be they in accounting, engineering, research and development, marketing or some other area. These nine work functions form the basis of our theory of Team Management. They emerge from discussing the critical success factors with people in factories, offices, laboratories, banks, airlines and other work locations.

Figure 1. Types of Work Wheel.

Types of Work Wheel

Advising

Advising is all about gathering and giving information. Some people such as librarians, researchers, or information officers love gathering all sorts of data and presenting it back to others. Often it is a starting point for launching a new product or service, where information is sought about competitors or new products being launched in other parts of the world.

Innovating

Innovating is all about creating new ideas or thinking up new ways of tackling old problems. Some people, like research and development scientists, may spend 80 per cent or so of their time in this area whereas other people, concerned say with production, may have little chance to work in the innovating area. Nonetheless, it is a very important element of most jobs. The failure to innovate will sooner or later lead to organizational failure.

Promoting

People who are involved in promoting-type work usually enjoy looking for new opportunities and persuading others. Maybe information about a new market potential has been gathered and some researcher has dreamed up a novel way of exploiting the opportunity. However, it is up to the promoter to sell the idea to management and to gather all the resources - money, equipment, people - to get the job under way. All jobs have an element of promoting in them. Some people are good at it and others shy away from the up-front people-contact that is required.

Developing

Once an idea has been generated and ‘sold’ to management, development takes place. Here the initial concept is exposed to a vigorous analytical process and developed to a stage where it has a chance of succeeding in the market place. Creativity is often required here as in ‘innovating’ work but the main difference is in the applied nature of the work as the ‘developer’ needs to have one eye on the realities of the market place and plan out the way to apply the ideas.

Organizing

Many jobs have an element of organizing associated with them. Organizing is all about setting up a structure and resources so that the product, scheme, or service can work. It involves managing the resources to get the tasks done. Deadlines need to be established and performance benchmarks set so that the goals of the team, division or organization can be achieved. Some people enjoy the ‘cut and thrust’ that is often associated with organizing whereas others find it difficult to deal with the hard decisions that are often required.

Producing

Producing is usually the heart and soul of most organizations. After all, it is the regular production of the goods or services that brings in the bottom-line profit. People working in production may spend most of their time working in this area but all teams, even research and development teams, will have some element of production associated with the work they do.

Inspecting

When goods or services are being produced on a regular basis there is always a need to ensure that the ‘details’ are watched. High quality has to be maintained and accurate records of the financial position kept. This is the inspecting type of work characteristically done by people such as accountants, quality controllers and clerks. Contracts have to be set and monitored. Procedures have to be fulfilled to comply with safety, security and other regulatory areas.

Maintaining

‘Maintaining’ is a work category we have found common to all jobs. It is to do with ensuring that the infrastructure is in place so that the team, division or organization can work with maximum efficiency. In general it is associated with the support services offered in an organization and the general background work done in a team to ensure that its requirements can be met quickly and efficiently. The result is an emphasis on standards, on quality and a code of principles to govern behavior at work.

Linking

The last work function category is shown in the middle of the Types of Work Wheel because it is central to the success of all teams. Someone has to coordinate all the team members to ensure that there is maximum cooperation and interchange of ideas, reports and experiences.

The linking function often means the difference between effective and ineffective teams. Often a team may have members who are highly skilled and individually capable but unless someone is performing the linking function the team is likely to fail.

Most managers have found the Types of Work Wheel an extremely useful representation of the work activities of a high-performing team, whether these teams are whole organizations, divisions, sections, task forces or smaller work groups. We shall show you how you can use this team management approach to develop systems to ensure your team works together effectively.

Team assessment example

An example of how this can be done using the Team Management Wheel is the approach used in a large manufacturing company. For some time the senior manager had been concerned that his team members were not working together effectively. There had been numerous examples of deadlines being missed, poor quality work, interpersonal arguments and a lack of new ideas.

The general manager therefore brought the team together and as an introduction had one of our team discuss the Types of Work Wheel. This led on immediately to a discussion on ‘What areas do we need to be strong in to meet the challenges in our business?’

The team agreed the need was to be strong in creating, promoting and developing, given the rapid changes in markets and products.

They completed a questionnaire of ours and gained feedback on their own preferences and strengths. They quickly came to the conclusion they were good at organizing, producing and inspecting. This led to a deep discussion on how to improve in the areas that were perceived as weak. They concluded they should put more time and effort into those areas and go out and seek training as appropriate.

They also concluded that the conflicts between those who wanted to spend more time on innovating and those who wanted to maintain the status quo so that the production system was not disturbed, should cease.

The team set objectives to improve their performance in the key areas and then met again a few months later to assess progress. Again they used the same system, having the work functions as a point of reference and comparison. The general feeling was that they were more effective and placing their efforts in a more relevant way.

Understanding team roles

It is clear from the manufacturing case that a team can improve its performance if it has a way of identifying where its weaknesses are, and has the chance to discuss and implement improvements.

The Types of Work Wheel and its derivative the Team Management Wheel (see Chapter 3) are a basis for diagnosing how well a team is performing. The key activities needed in the team can be analyzed and then roles and responsibilities assigned so that these activities are covered by the team members best equipped to deal with them.

In this regard we developed the concept of work preferences and an understanding of these is fundamental to the success of a team.

Measuring Work Preferences

Introduction

When we discussed with managers the key activities that need to go on in a team we found that they indicated preferences for some activities and dislikes for others. One manager said:

"I really enjoy the innovating and promoting aspects of my job but I’m not very interested in the detail (inspecting work). Often I gloss over the details or try to delegate them to others. It is the generation of ideas that motivates and enthuses me."

Another said:

"What is important to me is that the job is delivered on time and to high standards of accuracy. This is where I concentrate a lot of my energies. Sometimes I have difficulty working with these ‘ideas people’ who are always thinking up new ways of improving things and as a result there are no outputs delivered."

It became clear to us that people do have work preferences - that is, work they choose to do or not to do. The Types of Work Wheel is therefore a useful way of presenting these activities. Most people we talked to said that there was at least three areas, sometimes four, where they felt really ‘at home’. Usually there were one or more areas that they disliked or preferred not to be involved in. As a result they often delegated these activities to others or gave them a low priority.

Given that all the work functions are necessary for a team to be high-performing we then thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be a good idea if we could identify a person’s work function preference?’ If, for example, someone prefers promoting work, then we could look at ways of ensuring that this person covered many of the promoting activities of the team. In this way their skills would be used to advantage. Usually people practice what they prefer and therefore perform better in those areas that match their preference.

To identify work preferences we developed an instrument called the Margerison-McCann Team Management Profile Questionnaire. This is a 60-item questionnaire that enables managers and their teams to gather important information on the personal strengths and weaknesses of each person. The Team Management Profile Questionnaire (TMPQ) provides a means of understanding which of the work functions are of high and low interest. In this chapter we shall outline how this is done and show its value in systematic team development.

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