Team Management Systems
 

Do we have Rainbow Teams in the South African Rainbow Nation?

By Marius Stander
Copyright © Marius Stander. All rights reserved.

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Synopsis

Because of the many different ethnic groups, cultures and languages (11 official languages) people refer to South Africa as the Rainbow nation. The presentation will cover the following:

  • The distribution of Team Management Profile Questionnaire (TMPQ) roles in the South African sample
  • The racial distribution of Team Management Profile Questionnaire (TMPQ) roles
  • The balance/imbalance of + 10 management teams according to the Team Management Profile Questionnaire (TMPQ)
  • The strengths and weaknesses of South African teams in terms of the criteria for effective teamwork
  • The perception of managers and subordinates on the readiness of supervisors for leading self-directed teams

Paper/Conference Notes

1.Teamwork in South Africa

1.1 Introduction

South Africa is a country rich in diversity. Its people and their respective cultures and traditions, and its natural beauty and wildlife constitute a few of the aspects that make up a rainbow country in the true sense of the word. South Africa's population of more than 41 000 000 people is made up of various groups including the following: a few remaining members of the San (or Bushmen), the Nguni people, the South, North, West Sotho (Tswana), the Tsonga, the Venda, Coloreds, Indians, Afrikaners, English and people who have immigrated to South Africa from the Netherlands, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy and many other European countries. Many of these people still maintain their own traditions, languages and cultures. The Chinese people in South Africa also maintain a strong cultural identity.

Our national anthem is an example of the language diversity in the country. The official national anthem incorporates five languages and is both a prayer for the country and a poetic description of the land, ending on a highly inspirational note. The 1,35 minute anthem has eight lines comprising of the Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica (Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho) and Die Stem (Afrikaans and English). The public also has the option of playing either of these two previous anthems.

South Africa had its first democratic election in April 1994 to elect a government of national unity. The first two years in the life of the "Rainbow Nation" contributed greatly to the unity of a new nation. Notably, the nation's achievements in several fields of international sports had a morale-boosting impulse. Some of the achievements on the sports fields are: winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995, winning the Africa Cup of Nations for soccer in 1996, five medals at the Olympic Games (three gold, one silver and one bronze), participation in the Para Olympic Games, and successes in the World Golf Cup and World Women's bowls championship. We even had a bid to host the Olympic Games in 2004.

Evidently sport plays a very important role in uniting the people of the country. As a result, sports teams were given new, creative names, supported and accepted by the majority of people in South Africa. Examples of these are the Amma Bokke Bokke (Rugby), Bafana Bafana (Soccer) and even the Ama Crokke Crokke (Team to compete at the Para Olympic Games).

Sports also plays a very important role in uniting people from totally different worlds within one country. People disadvantaged under apartheid, liberals, conservatives, blacks, whites, coloreds, Asians and political enemies suddenly support the same teams. The slogan "one nation, one team" originated from this unity. Against this background of current happenings in our country, supported by my experience with Team Management Systems (TMS) in my own consulting practise, I asked myself the following questions:

  • Do we have rainbow teams within the South African Rainbow Nation?
  • How do the major TMPQ role preferences of South African managers compare with those of managers in the rest of the world?
  • Are there any differences in the distribution of roles on the TMPQ between South African Blacks, Whites and Asians?
  • Are there any significant differences between Black, Asian and White South Africans in terms of job preferences?
  • Do we have balanced teams in South Africa?
  • What type of teamwork problems do South African teams experience?
  • What perceptions exist with regard to the strengths and weaknesses of South African teams according to teambuilding facilitators?
  • What perceptions exist with regard to the strengths and weaknesses of South African team leaders according to teambuilding facilitators?
  • Are South African supervisors (team leaders) ready for self-directed teams?

2. Major Role Preference Distribution

2.1. The South African sample

The sample data consists of people tested in the process of selection, teambuilding and growth stimulation. The population of people tested on the TMPQ in South Africa is +2000. The sample of 917 people is not at all representative of the South African population, but merely a practical sample. The profiles were selected on the basis of the comprehensiveness of data. Consequently, some of the profiles were omitted due to missing information on the rest of the test battery. (The TMPQ is part of a complete test battery).

Table 2.1 Composition of South African sample based on ethnic groups

Table 2.1  Composition of South African sample based on ethnic groups

Table 2.2 Composition based on gender

Table 2.3  Composition based on gender

Table 2.1 indicates that this sample consists of 68% White, 19% Black and 11% Asian people. The reason for this is that there is currently a very small percentage of Black and Asian people in more senior positions in South Africa. This can be expected to change drastically over the next few years. The affirmative action process is gaining momentum and we are in the process of implementing a new employment equity bill. This will have a definite impact on the composition of the sample based on race and gender. Another reason for the small percentage of female managers in Table 2.2 is the fact that many of the respondents are from traditionally male functional areas, namely engineering and production.

2.2 Distribution of major roles - comparing South African data with that of the rest of the world

Table 2.3 Distribution of major role preferences - comparing South African data with the rest of the world

Table 2.3  Distribution of major role preferences - comparing South African data with the rest of the world

Table 2.4 Distribution of first related role preference - South African data

Table 2.5  Distribution of first related role preference - South African data

Table 2.5 Distribution of second related role preference - South African data

Table 2.5  Distribution of second related role preference - South African data

When one compares the distribution of major roles it is interesting to note that the South African sample has a significantly higher percentage of Assessor-Developers compared to other countries. 85% of the South African sample is spread across the roles of Assessor-Developer, Thruster-Organizer and Concluder-Producer role preferences. This is an unbalanced distribution compared to the rest of the world. Less than 5% of the respondents have a major role preference in the Reporter-Adviser, Upholder-Maintainer, and Controller-Inspector sectors. Stronger tendencies towards the right of the Wheel in the South African sample could be as a result of sanctions imposed during the apartheid era. Managers and companies were mainly assessed in terms of output. South Africa was not really part of the global environment where companies had to compete with market leaders. This was advantageous to many companies, as they were the only providers in the local market. Subsequently, a culture was established in which new ideas and products were less important than mass output.

If one takes into consideration that most of the major roles are external roles, this sample could be described as analytical and structured ( ECAS, EPAS, IPAS). According to the TMS Personal Development Manual this sample of managers could be summarized as people who prefer:

  • attempting to establish objective decision-making criteria
  • measuring decisions against pay-off's
  • occasionally to be seen as detached and clinical
  • emphasizing decisions based on the situation
  • are open to change depending on the situation
  • negotiate on the basis of evidence
  • are objective and fair
  • like analysis and clarity
  • set objectives and beliefs follow
  • are task orientated
  • are action-oriented, especially in resolving issues
  • are persistent and aggressive with regard to set goals
  • make hasty decisions without sufficient information
  • are punctual, organized and efficient
  • are reluctant to change once decisions have been made
  • emphasizes concluding and resolving rather than diagnosing
  • dislike ambiguity.

3. Role Preferences in South Africa

Tables 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 compare the major role preferences of White, Black and Asian South African.

Table 3.1 Major role preferences of Black, White and Asian South Africans

Table 3.1  Major role preferences of Black, White and Asian South Africans

Table 3.2 First related role preference of Black, White and Asian South Africans

Table 3.2  First related role preference of Black, White and Asian South Africans

Table 3.3 Second related role preference of Black, White and Asian South Africans

Table 3.3  Second related role preference of Black, White and Asian South Africans

The information in Table 3.1 indicates that there is quite a difference between the data of Blacks compared to that of Whites and Asians in terms of major role preferences on the Team Management Wheel. It is interesting to note that there was no Reporter-Adviser within the sample of Blacks. The percentage of Explorer-Promoter major role preferences in the Asian sample is significantly lower than in the White and Black samples. 36% of the Blacks prefer the Assessor-Developer role as opposed to 24% of the Whites. There is further a lower percentage of Concluder-Producers in the Black sample (15%) than in the White sample (24%) and Asian sample (21%). 90% of major role preferences in the sample of Black respondents is distributed across the Assessor-Developer, Thruster-Organizer and Concluder-Producer major role preferences, with just over 1% of the sample spread across the Reporter-Adviser, Upholder-Maintainer, Controller-Inspector major role preferences.

A conclusive majority of the major role preferences are in the outer Wheel where the Assessor-Developer, Thruster-Organizer and Concluder-Producer are people who tend towards analytical and structured preferences.

The t-test was used to determine the difference between the mean scores of the Black, Asian and White samples and a statistically significant difference was reflected in the means of the Black, Asian and White groups on the creative scale as measured by the TMPQ.

Interesting to note from the analysis is that the differences between the scales on both the E-I and the P-C scales are less than two for the White and Asian sample, whereas the difference between the average score for introvert and extrovert on the E-I scale for the sample of Black respondents is more than two. On the whole there is quite a difference between the average score for all three groups in terms of the A-B and S-F scales. This correlates with the net median scores of the rest of the world.

Traditionally, the black manager was often labelled as being less time-conscious and end-results driven. Similarly managers in this group were also viewed as being more concerned about the group than the individual. This could be due to the apartheid era where they had to stand together and unite against a common enemy. Various studies in South Africa indicate that Black people tend to move towards collectivism while the Whites tend to be more individualistic.

4. Distribution of Role Preferences in South African Teams

The following information has been collected from sixteen teams whose members completed the TMPQ. Information from the TMPQ was used in a teambuilding process.

Table 4.1 Distribution of major role preferences within South African teams

Table 4.1   Distribution of major role preferences within South African teams

Table 4.1 is a summary of the different major role preferences of sixteen South African teams. The following is an indication of the level and type of industry in which every team operates (Table 4.1 & 4.2):

  • Team 1 - Top management : Manufacturing Industry
  • Team 2 - Top management : Milling and Baking Industry
  • Team 3 - Top management : Mining Industry
  • Team 4 - Top management : Chemical Industry
  • Team 5 - Top management : Electric Industry
  • Team 6 - Top management : Local Authority
  • Team 7 - Top management : Chemical Industry
  • Team 8 - Area management : Milling and Baking
  • Team 9 - Top management : Tertiary Training Institution
  • Team 10 - IT team : Dairy industry
  • Team 11 - IT project team : Engineering Industry
  • Team 12 - Management team : Business Unit (Chemical Industry)
  • Team 13 - Management team : Operations (Chemical Industry)
  • Team 14 - Management team :Technical Department (Chemical Industry)
  • Team 15 - Departmental Management team : Local Authority
  • Team 16 - Owners : Legal Practise

Table 4.2 gives an indication of the major role preferences of the different leaders in every team. An interesting aspect is that all three Creator-Innovator leaders are inner Creator-Innovators, in other words a preference for the introverted, creative, analytical and flexible.

Table 4.2 Distribution of leader's major role preferences within South African teams

Table 4.2   Distribution of leader's major role preferences within South African teams

5. Teamwork in South Africa

In this part of the paper I will firstly concentrate on the strengths and weaknesses within South African teams based on the results of a questionnaire. Secondly I will discuss the perceptions of experienced team facilitators with regard to the strengths and weaknesses of South African teams as well as South African team leaders.

5.1 Building blocks for effective teamwork

Table 5.1 Building blocks for effective teamwork

Table 5.1   Building blocks for effective teamwork

Table 5.1 provides an overview of eleven teams' own assessment against the criterion for effective teamwork as developed by Woodcock.

The scores given in Table 5.1 give an indication of the strengths/weaknesses of the specific criterion (building block) within the team. The maximum score for any one criterion is 12. A high score (out of twelve) is an indication of a possible problem area within the team. The last column on the right-hand side indicates the average score for this specific building block. From this Table it could be concluded that clear objectives, cooperation and regular review, control and feedback are possible areas of concern within South African teams. Individual development, leadership and effective procedures are not really areas of concern. The following are specific behavior or a lack of behavior identified as problems within most South African teams:

  • Communication needs improving.
  • We are all very busy but we do not seem to get anywhere.
  • We do not spend adequate time planning for the future.
  • We do not really work together.
  • Skills and information are not shared sufficiently.
  • There is not enough listening.
  • We should discuss our differences more often.
  • Priorities are unclear.
  • We do not understand what other departments are aiming at.
  • We do not plan for the future together.
  • Different parts of the organization are pulling in different directions.
  • We seldom question the content or usefulness of our meetings.
  • We do not learn from our mistakes.
  • We should spend more time questioning the way we operate.
  • We spend too much time doing and not enough thinking.
  • Delicate issues are never raised.

This correlates with my own perception of the strengths and weaknesses within South African teams. Teams do not spend enough time on clarifying objectives. Often when doing exercises or teambuilding with teams you will find that they try to solve a problem without knowing exactly what the problem is. Teams are so result-driven that, in the process, they are not working as a team but as individuals, and this creates conflict. Team members are often unwilling to put conflict on the table and solve it in a constructive way. One finds in South Africa that teams do not spend enough time to evaluate their own successes or failures. My personal feeling is that they do not have a learning orientation towards the achievement of results. They seldom learn from their mistakes or successes.

Although the teams did not identify individual development as a concern within the different teams, it is my personal opinion that there is still a culture in South African organizations that training and development is not that important. I think we are in a process where this culture is changing and in which development of people will become increasingly important. Many teams are strongly procedure-driven but they do not always question the meaningfulness of the procedures. Leadership was a further criterion that was not an area of concern. A possible reason for this is that teams completed this questionnaire in the course of the past five years and that they did not really understand the difference between leadership and management. It is once more my opinion that the concept of leadership within teams has changed over the last twelve to fifteen months and that it is possible that if teams were to complete the questionnaire again, they will assess the leadership of the team leader in a different way.

5.2 The perception of team facilitators of strengths and weaknesses of South African teams

I have decided to add another dimension to this paper by asking non-TMPQ users to complete a short questionnaire on:

a) The importance of the types of work in teams;
b) The actual behavior (performance) of teams in the types of work;
c) The strengths and weaknesses of South African teams;
d) Challenges for teams and teamwork in South Africa;
e) The strengths and weaknesses of South African team leaders.

This would enable one to compare the information on the distribution of team roles, effectiveness of teamwork as identified by the building-blocks questionnaire and the date from the team facilitators.

Table 5.2 Differences between importance and performance in Types of Work

Table 5.2   Differences between importance and performance in Types of Work

Table 5.2 gives an indication of the importance and actual behavior in terms of the types of work as well as the difference between them. Table 5.2 reflects a statistically significant difference in the means of the importance and performance criteria on advising, organizing, producing, maintaining, external linking and internal linking.

The following is a summary of the most significant problems that South African teams experience according to the facilitators:

  • Uncertainty in terms of the role of the leader and team members.
  • Lack of support systems.
  • Poor interpersonal relationships/lack of understanding behavior/poor listening.
  • Little knowledge of team behavior.
  • Team members do not understand themselves, the process or the dynamics of teamwork.
  • Inability to manage diversity/cultural biases/cultural barriers.
  • Individualistic culture of white South Africans.
  • Not focused on common goals.
  • Focus is on transactional leadership and not transformational leadership.
  • Do not know the conditions of the environment in which they need to function - inward focus.
  • Do not critically evaluate or benchmark own results or processes.
  • Reluctant to shift paradigms and adapt.
  • Internal competition.
  • Lack of cooperation.
  • Lack of business understanding.
  • Poor communication.

The following is a summary of the most important strengths of South African teams according to the facilitators:

  • Loyal, hardworking - do not ask questions.
  • Focusing energy on one or two tasks at hand.
  • Commitment to success (white South Africans)/ commitment and drive/goal-orientated.
  • Ownership of challenges.
  • Wanting to succeed, to realize profits - "we have to".
  • Technical skills.
  • Innovative skills/creative.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Willingness to change.
  • Supportive.
  • Winning spirit.
  • Strong cohesion.

The following are the most important challenges for teams and teamwork in South Africa according to the team facilitators:

  • Creating self-directed working teams.
  • Multi-skilling.
  • Reaching goals.
  • Managing diversity (race, gender)/bridging cultural gap.
  • Higher level of knowledge about team behavior, processes and dynamics of teamwork.
  • Understanding and implementing empowerment.
  • How to distribute information to team members effectively.
  • To understand what they must do to be competitive.
  • Understanding their own competencies and capacities.
  • Develop leadership within the team to be successful.
  • Developing negotiating and mediating skills.
  • Developing business understanding.

6. Team Leadership in South African Teams

6.1 Facilitators' perception of South African Team leaders

The following is a summary of the positive characteristics of South African team leaders as identified by teambuilding facilitators:

  • Assertive.
  • Quick decision-making.
  • Task-focused.
  • Achievement-orientated.
  • Hard-working/enthusiasm.
  • Strong on mechanical issues - vision, mission and goals.
  • Technical skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • Supportive.
  • Charismatic leaders.
  • Strong ethics.

The following is a summary of the weaknesses of South African team leaders as identified by teambuilding facilitators:

  • Delegation.
  • Feedback.
  • Empathy.
  • Coaching.
  • Working too mechanical - denying dynamics (not trained in it).
  • Being subjective/not objective/being seduced by management.
  • Do not allow for empowerment - focus on self and own career.
  • An inability to motivate: lack of transformational leadership.
  • Lack of listening skills.
  • Lack of social responsibility.
  • Do not allow for shared power and responsibilities.
  • Do not utilize or unleash the human potential in teams.
  • Rigid.
  • Feeling threatened.
  • Territorial aggression.

8. Conclusion

The rainbow nation still has a long journey to travel before South African rainbow teams are fundamentally established. Teams need to be re-engineereed in order to succeed In the process the obtaining and distributing of information is vital. Regular performance review and continuous learning from their mistakes and successes also play a significant role. Leaders should concentrate on improving their understanding of teamwork dynamics. The TMPQ can play an important role in transforming teams and team leaders.

9. Bibliography

  • AMPROP INTERNATIONAL. 1995. South African executives: face to face with the world.
  • ANC. 1994. The reconstruction and development programme. Johannesburg:Umanyano Publications.
  • CENTRAL STATISTICAL SERVICES. 1997 South African statistics. Pretoria:State library.
  • CHARLTON, G. 1993. Leadership: the human race. Kenwyn:UTA.
  • DE WAAL, J.J.P. 1997. Preparedness of supervisors in the gold mine industry for the implementation of self-directed working teams (translated from Afrikaans). Masters dissertation.
  • TMS. 1994. TMS Research Update No. 2. York:TMS (UK) Ltd.
  • JORDAAN, M. 1994. Determining the level of preparedness of a non-profit utility company for the implementation of self-directed teams (translated from Afrikaans). Masters dissertation.
  • KOTZE, D.N. 1996. Preparedness of supervisors for self-directed teams in a manufacturing industry. (translated from Afrikaans). Masters dissertation.
  • MARGERISON, C. AND McCann, D. 1991. The personal development manual. Second edition. York:TMS (UK) Ltd.
  • SOUTH AFRICA YEARBOOK. 1997. South African communication services:Pretoria.
  • TMS. 1990. Accreditation handbook. York:TMS (UK) Ltd.
  • WOODCOCK, M. 1997. Team development manual. Farnborough:Gower press.

Copyright © Marius Stander. All rights reserved.


Marius Stander
STAFFGRO Pty Ltd
Postnet suite 35
Private Bag X1
Northcliff 2115
South Africa
mstander@indgro.co.za

Marius has obtained a BCom. Industrial Psychology, BCom. Hons (cum laude) and MCom. (cum laude) at the Potchefstroom University. He is currently a part-time lecturer and study leader for Masters students and the Managing Director at Staffgro, a division of Indgro Holdings. Indgro Holdings deliver a comprehensive suite of outsourcing services (cleaning, payroll, HR, staffing and warehousing) on a national basis. Staffgro provide the following staffing solutions of Temporary Employment Services, Permanent Placements and Customized Outsourcing.
 

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