A Model of Team Effectiveness - Principles of Management

Most U.S. manufacturing firms organize employees into production teams but, as revealed in a recent survey (see Figure below), most managers in these firms believe the effectiveness of these teams is still far from ideal. Why are some teams effective while others fail? This question has challenged organizational researchers for some time, and as you might expect, numerous models of team effectiveness have been proposed over the years. Figure below presents a model of team effectiveness that pulls together most existing literature about team effectiveness.

How Effective Are Teams in U.S. Manufacturing Firms?

How Effective Are Teams in U.S. Manufacturing Firms?

Let’s begin by clarifying the meaning of team effectiveness . Team effectiveness refers to how the team affects the organization, individual team members, and the team’s existence. First, effective teams achieve their objectives relating to the organization or other system in which the group operates. Second, team effectiveness relates to the satisfaction and well-being of its members.

People join groups to fulfill their personal needs, so effectiveness is partly measured by this need fulfillment. Third, team effectiveness relates to the team’s ability to survive. It must be able to maintain the commitment of its members, particularly during the turbulence of the team’s development. Without this commitment, people may leave and the team can fall apart. This element of team effectiveness also includes the ability to secure sufficient resources and find a benevolent environment in which to operate.

Team Effectiveness Model

Team Effectiveness Model

The organizational and team environment represents all factors that influence teams and exist beyond their boundaries.

Team members tend to work together more effectively when they are at least partly rewarded for team performance. Communication systems can influence team effectiveness—particularly in virtual teams, which are highly dependent on information technologies to coordinate work. Another environmental factor is the organizational structure; as we noted earlier, teams flourish when employees are organized around work processes because this increases interaction among team members.

High-performance teams also depend on organizational leaders who provide support and strategic direction while team members focus on operational efficiency and flexibility.

Along with these conditions, the physical layout of the team’s workspace can make a difference. Medrad, Inc., the Indianola, Pennsylvania, medical device manufacturer, redesigned the production process from straight-line assembly to clustered structures in which members of each team now work more closely in U-shaped work cells. A successful trial confirmed that the U-shaped cell physical arrangement improved team performance by enhancing the ability of team members to observe and assist each other.

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