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The Management Bible
Ask Bob and Peter: I have been asked to determine the temperament within our team of approximately 140 people and to then make recommendations for required improvements. We are planning to issue a survey to all staff to determine the current state of morale; we will then benchmark our staff and measure again in six months. Can you suggest survey questions to help us obtain this information in an accurate way?
We have a couple of suggestions for you. First, make sure that the answers are completely confidential. Make sure that employees have no fear of retribution for "telling it like it is." Second, your questions should get to the heart of the matter as directly as possible. Ask employees to rate their own morale and then the morale of their group on a scale of 0 to 10. Ask them to name the top five morale problems in the organization and the top five things that have improved morale in the organization. Ask them to tell you exactly what they would change about the organization to improve morale. Also ask them what they would keep. The point here is to get specific information—not vague, mushy responses. Finally, when you pinpoint morale problems, do something to really solve them. If you don't, you're going to create another morale problem!
done. By trusting employees to do the job that needs to be done—and getting out of their way—employee creativity and initiative will be unlocked, leading to immediate benefits to the organization’s bottom line.
Why do teams work? Teams work because they involve the right people (those closest to customers, problems, and opportunities) in making decisions that are most important to their organizations. And because
BUILDING HIGH-PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATIONS 205
they include the right people, when they are given appropriate authority as well, they can make these decisions much more quickly and flexibly than can the rigid hierarchies of old.
Smaller and Nimbler
The fast-increasing rate and scope of change in the global business environment puts a premium on organizational structures that can respond quickly to change. By breaking down into smaller organizational units such as teams—and giving them real decision-making power— even the largest companies can become nimbler than their competitors.
Customers want to get their products and services faster than ever before, but they also expect lower prices. Because of their ability to better respond to opportunities and to facilitate decision making, teams are an essential element in allowing organizations to deliver products and services “any time, any place” and at prices that meet— and even exceed—the customer expectations.
Innovative and Adaptable
By unlocking the creativity, knowledge, and talent of all employees, teams can lead to increased innovation. And because they are smaller and nimbler, teams can also more easily adapt to changes in their external environments. Both Xerox Corporation and Hewlett-Packard have found that by intertwining design, engineering, and manufacturing functions in the development of new products, they are able to dramatically speed up the process of taking a new product from concept to production.
And while teams used to be considered useful only for projects of short duration (say, organizing that company picnic), there is an increasing realization that teams can also be effective for long-term projects and for enhancing the way that organizations do business over long periods of time. The result is permanent teams that are built into organizational structures rather than just shoehorned in, making them that much more powerful and effective.
The Management Bible
CREATING A TEAM CULTURE
Once you decide to create a team to address some organizational opportunity or problem, you’re faced with a decision: What kind of team should you set up? There are three major categories of teams, including: formal, informal, and self-managed. You probably won’t be surprised to find out that each offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages which we will explore in the sections that follow.
A formal team is a team that is chartered by an organization’s management and tasked to address specific issues or to achieve specific goals. These issues and goals can be anything of importance to the business— from determining whether to move production offshore, to addressing how to capitalize on changing customer preferences, to planning an annual employee awards program. Types of formal teams include:
• Task forces: These are formal teams assembled on a temporary basis to address specific problems or issues. A task force could, for example, be created by management to get to the bottom of recent customer complaints about product quality. Task forces most often are given deadlines for addressing their problems or issues and reporting their findings back to management.
• Committees: Committees are long-term or permanent teams designed to perform an ongoing, specific organizational task. Examples include safety committees required by company liability insurance policies and employee morale committees designed to make the workplace more fun for workers. While committees themselves may exist unchanged for many years, their membership most often undergoes constant change as members are appointed and relieved of their duties.