The purpose of this dissertation shall be to evaluate the impacts of team building to the soldier’s performance. The undertaking shall focus on both the psychological and social impacts of team building in order to analyze the extent to which team building can help in establishing a happier military.
To this end, a discussion shall be presented delving into the applicability and effectiveness of team building in relation to safe guarding the development, performance and survival of the military against the unpredictable trends and instabilities brought about by the different variables that exist in their work environment.
The evaluation shall be done through the use of interviews and questionnaires where various soldiers, army managers and close relatives of different parties shall be encouraged to participate in a bid to find the disadvantages and advantages that can be accrued by promoting team work and team building in the army and how the implementation of the same may affect the overall performance of the military.
Thereafter suitable recommendations shall be made as to how best an organization can manage the dynamics that are associated with team building while maintaining a healthy and beneficial work environment for both the military and the various soldiers as well. Suitable solutions shall also be recommended as pertaining to the limitations that may arise during the implementation of team building within the military.
The proposal shall utilize the descriptive correlation method of research to effectively provide answers to the following question: To what extent does team building and management affect the overall performance of the military?
SWOT analysis shall be used to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that are present in the military and at the same time to pin point the major concerns raised by the soldiers in regard to the stressors and the risk factors that may ensue as a result of the team building structure employed by the military.
Data collected shall at the end help in establishing the extent to which the decision to implement team building is beneficial or not to the overall performance welfare within the military.
Background of the proposal
There has been an increase in the utilization of the army to sort out different political and social issues in various countries. This has been as a result of increased violence, terrorism and political instabilities in various regions across the world.
Consequently, the military has been at the forefront of promoting peace and safeguarding the lives of the millions of innocent civilians that are caught up in the crossfire resulting from these issues (Henderson, 2006).
Over the years, the issues raised in relations to the army being the lasting solution to these problems have always evolved around the ability of the military to perform their duties effectively and efficiently without disrupting due process in the countries that they visit.
This has mainly been brought about by the rising levels of militia men and women being involved in unethical behaviors and poor decision making structures which inevitably lead to the death of many people; army and civilians alike. In addition to this, cases of psychological trauma have increased significantly within the army. This has contributed to the high rate of suicidal and homicidal tendencies within the military forces.
Blascovich et al (2008), claim that the ability of the army to work as a unit to a large extent affects the performance and mental soundness of the soldiers trusted with the duty of protecting and serving their nations on a daily basis.
Consequently, a building interest has been developed by policy makers towards the transformation of the rules and regulations that govern the training and motivation processes of the army and their contribution or lack thereof towards the sustenance and protection of the soldiers against self harm or harm emanating from disunity.
Statement of the Problem
Over the past decades, the US military has actively been involved in various peace missions across the world. In these missions, war has ensued in a bid to eliminate all eminent threats to the development of society as well as the peaceful coexistence amongst the citizenry (Henderson, 2006). Perhaps the effect that has troubled people the most has been the rampant death of soldiers and civilians in the war.
The death of US troops has been seen to have such a negative effect on the support of the war as is demonstrated by the government’s decision to curb media reports that show death or injured soldiers. A research by Tufts University states that more than 1.5 million Troops have been stationed in the Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the War on Terror.
These soldiers are at the forefront of the war and it is they who suffer both physical and psychological damage as they fight (Blascovich et al, 2008). With this in mind, the unity of these soldiers plays a pivotal role in ensuring that they all survive the risks and challenges that come from such environments.
The American Psychological Association (2002), consent that soldiers have a great challenge balancing the needs of their spouses and family responsibilities with their careers.
She states that while soldiers do have it in mind that they might be called to active duty at one point in time during their careers, the war on terror has made this almost a certainty and the long duration that each tour lasts brings about emotional burdens and financial hardships on military families. Such issues do not only affect the families of the soldiers but also the soldier’s ability to perform as required.
Whereas an individual can be seen to be a potent force acting for the good of the military, there may be instances whereby this individual can lead to the failure of his/her unit. The military is a coalition of individuals who have goals.
Therefore, there exists the potential for internal goal conflict due to the diverse individuals that make up the military (Henderson, 2006). A soldier suffering from any form of disability or stress may be tempted to project the goals that reflect on his/her personal values. This may in the end lead to unprecedented disasters and casualties during a mission.
Mental health experts believe that post deployment problems are as a result of the terror that the soldiers experience first hand during the war (Blascovich et al, 2008). These problems are intermittent and can surface up to several months or years after service.
The War has led to an increase in the mental related illnesses experienced by the soldiers mostly because they lack proper care or are only looked after at the early stages and then left to fend for themselves. This increase has lead for the need by the military to invest more funds in counselors and psychologists to help the soldiers recover their mental health and to help them deal with the war effects in better ways.
The risk of suicide by returning troops has also been seen to be on an all time high leading to the formation of a program to help prevent suicide among soldiers. Mental instability may affect the performance of the soldiers and in such times, having friends to talk to and assist through such hard times may be helpful.
The number of dead Americans cannot be accurately quantified as the US government is notorious for its understating of the real number of killed combatants in an attempt to keep the public opinion positive and also to boost the moral of the soldiers. It is however generally accepted that the number is significantly high and this has led to the speaking out against the war by most Americans including returning soldiers.
Nonetheless, some of the issues that stand out are that teamwork has in most cases helped the soldiers avert dangerous situations and disunity among the troop members have contributed to the deaths of many soldiers and civilians.
The revelations of these bleak realities have necessitated the need to promote teamwork through team building. Not only will it save lives, but it will increase the performance of the soldiers by reinforcing their unity during troubling times.
Brief overview of team building
Henderson (2006) defines a team as a group of people who work together towards achieving a particular set of goals and enjoy doing so to produce the required standards of results.
Team building therefore refers to the process that is designed to create a viable work environment that enables the members of a team to satisfactorily perform their duties efficiently. With these facts in mind, teamwork can be defined as the ability of a team to willingly examine its process in a bid to improve its efficiency as a team and most important of all; as individuals.
In regards to ensuring a happier military, team building would at the end improve the performance of the soldiers and create a work environment that addresses their needs (Blascovich et al, 2008). This would minimize the risks and casualties brought about by miscommunication, conflicts and psychological issues such as stress, trauma and depression.
The benefits of team building include but are not limited to: improved performance in terms of productivity and efficiency, sustainability of trust and respect among members of the team, quality service delivery, stability, attainment of military objectives as well as personal goals and the ability of the soldiers to take logical risks by trying new strategies (Henderson, 2006).
In addition, team building guarantees significant comfort levels, facilitates efficient communication in regards to team goals, objectives, relations and procedures and finally, educates the team members on how to collaborate rather than compete.
Aim Of The Proposal
This proposal aims at providing a viable team building design that will help the soldiers attain job satisfaction thereby improving their performance, relations and commitment levels to the cause.
This shall be achieved by analyzing the issues that have hampered the development of efficient teams within the military. Data gathered shall be used to develop a team building structure that will address these issues thereby leading to a happier military.
Objective (that achieve the aim)
- Discuss with the various participants their overall expectations and views about the relationship between teamwork and performance.
- Discuss with the army commanders of selected units how team building can be used to reflect on their unit’s performance.
- Interview the various implementers and policy makers about how the benefits of team building designs can be measured or analyzed.
- Design a team building process based on the findings collected on the aforementioned objectives.
- What are the benefits of team building to the soldiers and to the military?
- What factors within the military are most influenced by teamwork in terms of optimum performance and what is the influence of the new system on the soldier’s performance?
- How will the proposed team building process improve the performance of the soldiers?
Importance Of Team Building To The Military
Motivation can be defined as the process of “arousing, directing and maintaining behavior towards a goal” (American Psychological Association, 2002). While everyone is motivated towards achieving some goal which is unique to them, not everyone is motivated towards achieving the organizational goals.
For this reason, it is very important to take measures to increase the likelihood of all new military recruits being motivated towards achieving desirable goals (Britt, Adler & Castro, 2006). This is because motivation is directly linked to performance and productivity since a highly motivated person is more likely to perform optimally.
The military environment may be quite overwhelming to new comers. The training process is strict and may seem demeaning to many new recruits who are not physically and psychologically prepared for the challenges presented in this segment.
Blascovich et al (2008) declare that unlike with other professions where passing the recruitment process is rewarding enough, the military is more interested in outcomes that can be put to immediate use. As such, while other professions will be impressed with remarkable improvements of the employees, the same will not have a desirable effect on the military where perfection is the key to staying alive.
This assertion is backed by Henderson (2006) who states that the military’s orientation to productivity is life centered and as such, the training that the new recruits receive should result in an increase in their competency level in performing some tasks. Team building programs will help new recruits cope with the new environment, understand the chain of command and enable them to assess situations and critically think while in combat.
Existing military personnel
As mentioned earlier, the military has some internal conflicts and issues that may affect the overall performance of the soldiers. Implementing a team building program will equip the soldiers with the necessary skills needed to resolve internal conflicts, enhance communication, and raise their self-esteem in challenging circumstances (Britt, Adler & Castro, 2006).
It should be noted that the success of any mission is hinged on the ability of the members to successfully work together and understand the terminologies (military acronyms) used (Blascovich et al, 2008). As such, team building will help them understand various aspects regarding to team leadership and management, conflict and crisis resolution and communication etiquette.
Outgoing military personnel
Team building is especially very important to military personnel who are about to join the society. As mentioned earlier, soldiers are conditioned to behave in certain ways. When they join the society after serving the army, they often find it difficult to adjust to this environment.
Team building programs are therefore very crucial because they educate such soldiers on how to communicate to civilians, the qualities of good leadership and how to comfortably adjust and follow the norms and regulations set in society (Britt, Adler & Castro, 2006).
The Research Method
According to McGuire (30), the most suitable tool to use while evaluating this situation is analyzing the correlations that exist between the aspects presented. As such, the study shall use the descriptive correlation research method. This is because it seeks to identify the relationship between two variables which in this case are the effects of team building and performance in the military.
The data collected will consist of testimonials from selected parties within the military. The data collected shall then be compared to data generated by other related studies to evaluate the efficacy of team building and how it improves performance. To answer the questions designed for this proposal, the key concerns shall be established to provide guidelines for the interviews and the criteria to be used in data collection.
Pre-implementation Data Gathering Procedure
Data collection shall be carried out through the following techniques:
Primary source of data will include questionnaires and face to face interviews conducted in military bases across the country. This is the best method of acquiring accurate data due to the credibility of the sources and the minimum costs incurred through these techniques. In addition to this, review of relevant literature should be conducted so as to get an overview of the challenges that may arise during the implementation process.
Secondary data shall include peer reviewed articles related to this topic as well as books used in class and other online sources. These sources shall be used in order to further support the findings from the primary sources. In addition to this, various performance theories formulated by various scholars that try to explain the relationship between these two aspects should be used.
A SWOT analysis for at least two military bases should also be carried out in order to gauge the various strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that may arise from using the proposed initiative as a tool to establishing a happier military.
As per demographics, flow charts, and other graphical representations should be used to further explain the relationship between the two variables under different circumstances such hostile environments, family settings and work settings.
Finally, a cost benefit analysis should be done in order to evaluate the efficiency presented by the various strategies and policies as relating to the performance, development and stability of the selected military bases. The cost benefit analysis will help in determining the best course of actions as well as the establishment of recommendations related to this topic.
Team Building Program Implementation Stages
In this stage, the participants will be required to describe the qualities of a team and how they are formed. The participants should be encouraged to define their role in their teams and express their ideas on how they think the team can be improved. The questions in this stage are: How do I fit in this team? Do I really want to be part of this team?
In this stage, the participants should be allowed to freely evaluate their personal relationships with other team members. They should explain how alliances are formed within their teams. In addition, the participants should share their views on the leadership and management of their teams and what they believe to be the problems affecting the effectiveness of the same.
The questions in this stage should be as follows: Which individual amongst the team members controls the team? How is the control exercised? What happens to delinquent team members? Who stays on the team and who doesn’t?
This is the most crucial stage in the implementation process. The participants should be asked to air their views on how the team should be improved. To this regard, the questions asked should aim at evaluating if the members of a team want to work together, whether they are committed to their team and the military and how they perceive their team mates.
In addition, they should be encouraged to express their views on how conflicts are resolved in their teams and whether each member of the team exhibits support and interest to other team mates; do they trust, listen and respect each other? The answers in this segment should address the following questions: How do we as a team attain the set goals efficiently? Where do I fit in this team?
In this stage, the questions should be focused on the future of the team. Do the members feel close to each other? Can either member of the team go the extra mile to assist a team mate? Do they have a team culture or norm? And finally, do they feel as though their contributions and roles in the team are fully recognized and secured? The discussion should be based on these criteria.
The answers provided in the course of this stage should in general answer the following questions: How does my team stay unified? Where do we go from here? And, How far can this team go in terms of effectiveness and efficient performance?
In any research, the follow up is among the crucial stages. Data gathered from the other stages may help in identifying the weaknesses within the teams. Thereafter, an effective team building program can be developed based on these findings. However, the success of the initiative cannot be known if there is no follow up to find out if the program was indeed a success. In this stage, the questions should be as follows: what were the significant differences noted after implementing the program in your team? How best can these differences be improved? How did the program affect your performance and relationship with your team members?
Post Implementation Phase Data Collection
The best way to collect the data after the implementation of the initiative will be through interview and journal entries. Each participant should be given a journal on which all relevant information regarding to the team should be entered.
The journals should them be collected on a weekly basis and the information therein compiled. The information will then be used to gauge the extent to which the team building process was successful.
In addition, the participants should be encouraged to give their views on how best the program can be improved such that it meets their needs and help them grow as a team as well as individually.
The main aim of this initiative is to improve the overall performance of the team and ensure that all members are comfortable while executing their duties. However, every project must have some unforeseen limitations and flaws. The only way these shortcomings can be identified is by following up on the participants who experience the hardships first-hand.
Disadvantages of team building programs
According to Schiff (2008), team building focuses on human behavior which at times may be hard to effectively control or predict. As such, team members may give false results in order to safeguard their position on the team. In a military environment, each member of a team depends on his/her team mates for survival. As such, the members may falsify the information given to avoid being singled out by other team members.
In addition, the team leaders may restrict the information flow to protect team members from bad publicity. Even though the information gathered in this case should be confidential, members of the team investigated may refuse to give out accurate information all the same.
Since team building and teamwork starts from an individual, some participants may refuse to corporate. This can be attributed to their fear of change as well as their loyalties to the cause (Schiff, 2008). In this case, the information given may not reflect on the actual situation within the teams.
Team building is very important to the performance and comfort of all employees within the military. With the current state of affairs across the world, it would be a worthwhile endeavor to ensure that all military personnel are equipped with the necessary skills needed to boost their moral and improve their performance.
This proposal has highlighted the need for team building and its contribution towards ensuring happiness in the military. The benefits of this initiative to various faculties in the military have been discussed and the various steps that should be followed to ensure that the initiative is successful provided.
The various limitations that can hamper the implementation process have also been discussed. I firmly believe that if team building is improved in the military, soldiers will be able to perform their duties efficiently, with a significant improvement being on their outlook to what they do and their commitment to the same.
American Psychological Association. (2002). Psychological abstracts, Volume 89, Issue 4. USA: American Psychological Association.
Blascovich, J et al. (2008). Human behavior in military contexts. USA: National Academies Press.
Britt, T., Adler, A., & Castro, C. (2006). Military life: the psychology of serving in peace and combat. CA: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Henderson, K. (2006). While They’re at War: The True Story of American Families on the Home front. USA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Schiff, R. (2008). The military and domestic politics: a concordance theory of civil-military relations. NY: Taylor & Francis.