In essence, teamwork involves individuals cooperating in order to achieve results that none of the individuals can achieve by their own. Many organizations today are structured into teams that work toward the overall goals of the organizations. The main objective for creating teams is to achieve results. A team is therefore evaluated against its ability to produce results.
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From inception to dissolution, producing results is the main goal that drives a team. In most cases therefore, a team is monitored against the results that it produces. Although output is an indicator for health of a team, it is not sufficient. An effective or successful team should not only produce result but also be sustainable (Sullivan & Rothwell, 2005).
A team should be able to produce desired results on a long term basis and therefore help an organization to achieve its goals.
To understand the nature of team, team diagnosis is important. Team diagnosis enables one to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a team and help implement the necessary changes in order to improve a team. In the essay, I provide a team diagnosis of a team comprising of Bank of America, Philadelphia employees.
The team comprised of operations staff at Bank of America Philadelphia branch. The staff constituted branch operations manager, underwriters, processors and closers. I observed the team in their weekly meeting for five weeks. I attended five of their meeting and made important observation about the team.
Operation staff alone attended the first four meetings but in the fifth meeting, they were joined by sales staff. Attending the meeting revealed much information about the team’s structure, dynamics and interactions.
The Tuckman Model of Group Development
The foundation of this team diagnosis is the Tuckman Model of Group Development. Tuckman proposed that team development takes place through four stages. Tuckman stages of team development constitute of forming, storming, norming and performing (Sullivan & Rothwell, 2005). He claimed that the sequential stages are predictable. According to Tuchman, a team goes through the four stages before it matures.
Each stage of team development has dominant features. According to Tuckman, issues and problem related to a stage of team development have to be resolved before a team can proceed to a higher stage of development. At the forming stage of development, team climate is high but productivity is low. As a team proceeds to storming stage, team climate drops but productivity starts to increase.
At the norming stage, both team productivity and team climate increase. At the final stage of development, both team climate and team productivity levels at a high level. Apart from outlining the characteristics of each stage, Tuckman Model of Group Development also proposes relationship and task results that leader should address at each stage of team development.
A functional team has features that distinguish it from non-performing teams. Borrowing from Tuchman model of development a team can be evaluated against characteristics of functional teams. The eleven characteristics used for this diagnosis include productivity, self assessment role and responsibilities, clear objective, team climate, shared leadership, decision making, communication, listening, participation and conflict.
Team Development Stage
Outcomes received from Bank of America, Philadelphia show that the team is in transition from storming to norming stage. Team climate can be rated at 6/10 while productivity can be rated at 7/10. From observations, all team members understood the objective as well and their individual role and responsibilities. However, there seemed to be issues surrounding productivity, conflict and communication.
Although the team members were able to meet their targets, it was clear that they did so out of pressure and burnout. The operations employees expressed their concerns over end of month stress as they tried to meet their targets. Conflict and productivity issues were evident at the fifth meeting.
At the meeting, Operations and Sales raised accusations against each other. Sales employees accused operations employees of underperforming. In response, operations employees asked the sales employees to ask the management to add more staff if they needed better services. The productivity, conflict and communication issues are likely to have impact on participation levels and climate within the team.
Considerations for Team Development
As aforementioned, the team is in transition from storming to norming. Although the team is able to meet its targets, there is need to ensure that the team performance is sustainable. To improve performance, the management needs to clarify the big picture of the bank’s objective.
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The management should work to reduce competition among team members and between members from various departments such as operations and sales. To enable cooperation among team members, the goals and purpose of the team may need to be redefined. Apart from redefining the purpose and goals of the team, it’s important to recommit norms and values that drive the team.
Communication is very important to a team. Good communication helps in problem solving, conflict resolution and facilitation cooperation (Lewis, 2004). To facilitate the team to transit smoothly to performance stage, atmosphere for open and honest discussion should be present. Open and honest discussion can enable the team members to address their issues and therefore reduce conflicts.
The branch manager at the Philadelphia branch of Bank of America played a significant role at facilitating open discussion during the meetings. Apart from inviting team members to participate in discussion, she allowed members to express and discuss their issues. In addition, the branch manager encourages celebration of successes, which can help the team to transit faster to norming stage of development.
The rating for Clear Objective was about 8.5. This implies that the team members understood and accepted the objective of the team. Team members associated with the team’s goals and objective. In the meetings, only issues related to the bank were discusses.
In all meetings, performance in the previous weeks and future activities and goals were addressed. From the meetings, it was clear that that the main objective for the meeting was to review and improve performance.
Role and Responsibilities
In a functional team, all members should be aware of their role and responsibilities. The rating for role and responsibility within the Bank of America team is about 7.7. The rating implies that awareness of individual role and responsibility was good.
In addition to having a clear understanding of the team’s objective, members were aware of their individual contribution to the objective. Team members valued each other and their unique roles in the bank. The processors, underwrites and closers participated actively in the meetings.
Rating for team climate was 7.0. Atmosphere during the attended meeting was generally relaxed. There was no noticeable tension among members. Although the meetings were a routine, team members did not seem bored. At the last meeting attended however, there was tension as sales and operations staff raised accusation against each other.
Participation of members at meetings was fair. In a scale of 10, participation can be rated at 6.5. The branch manager always invited team members to participate during the meetings. She allowed members to raise their concern concerning issues arising from the meetings of work place. Although participation was fair, a few of members seemed to dominate the meetings. In addition, at times discussion drifted from team objective.
Rating for listening was 6.9. Generally, team members listened to each other. Members were allowed to express their opinions without interruption. The branch manager showed leadership in listening. She paid attention to every concern raised by team members and responded to the concerns accordingly.
However, although listening was generally fair members seemed to be more concerned with their issues without relating their concerns with issue under discussion.
Rating for conflict was low, at 5.5. During the meetings, members seemed to avoid conflicts. From observations, it was clear that team members were not comfortable with disagreement.
Although the branch manager was accommodative, team members tried as much of possible not to disagree with her. Although the suppression helped to avoid conflict, it cannot be sustainable. In fact, conflict was observed in the fifth meeting attended.
Decision making is an important factor to success of a team. In a functional team, decisions are made in consultation with all members. The rating for decision making within the team was 7.0. Members were consulted and participated in decision making. However, the branch manager had an upper hand in decision making. In some instance, team members were only informed of policies from top management.
A team cannot perform effectively without effective communication. Communication helps members to work together and contribute to their team’s objective. A team without effective communication cannot be functional (Lewis, 2004).
The rating for communication within the Bank of America team was 7.6. Communication within the team was good. The weekly meetings played a significant role in facilitating communication. During the meetings, members were free to express their opinions on concerns.
Self assessment is at the core of a functional team. A team has to assess itself against its goals and objectives for it to remain on course (Wheelan, 1994). Self assessment helps a team recognize its strength and weaknesses and make the necessary corrective or improvement measures. The self assessment within the observed team was about 6.5.
The meetings always started with reviewing performance in the previous weeks. Team members would be congratulated for achieving the goals set for a week. However, the branch manager mainly conducted the regular assessment; rarely did the initiative for self assessment originate from other team members.
A functional team exhibits shared leadership. Despite of having a formal leader, leadership roles in such a team shifts from one individual to the other. Therefore, a team with shared leadership is able to function even in absence of the formal leader.
The rating for shared leadership at the Bank of America team was about 5.5. The branch manager took most of leadership roles. Although she delegated responsibilities to other team members, shared leadership was not overt.
A team is created to produce results and is evaluated against its ability to do so. Productivity within the Bank of America, Philadelphia team was 8.1. The team had high productivity. In most cases, the team was able to meet its weakly goals. However, members complained about pressure and stress that they went through in order to meets the goals. It was clear that the employees sometimes considered themselves overworked.
Team functionality depends on many factors including team members’ morale, team structure, communication, team processes and external support (Corey, Corey & Corey, 2008). Considering the Bank of America team observed, team members’ morale was good. Members seemed enthused toward the meetings and always arrived on time. Communication within the team was good.
Members were informed on various issues concerning the bank that affected them. Considering external support, the Bank of America team enjoyed support from the management. Therefore, external support to the team can be said to be good. In addition, the team is fairly structured. The team members have the necessary skills and resources to enable them to achieve their objectives.
Teams are important tools that can help an organization to meet its goals and objectives. Functionality of a team however depend on various factors, including team structure, communication, shared leadership, focus, team processes, and external support.
Through a team diagnosis based on Tuckman Model of Group Development, Bank of America Philadelphia team that I observed was found to be in transition from storming to norming. The team is overcoming conflict and embracing cooperation. Rating characteristics of function team in a scale of 10, the team scored fairly well in most of the characteristic.
Corey, M., Corey, G. & Corey, C. (2008). Group: Process and Practice. New York: Cengage Learning.
Lewis, J. (2004). Team-Based Project Management. New York: Beard Books.
Sullivan, R. & Rothwell, W. (2005). Practicing organization development: a guide for consultants. New York: John Wiley and Sons
Wheelan, S. (1994). Group Processes: A Developmental Perspective. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.