Currently, I work with the Saudi Arabian monitory agency (SAMA) in Saudi Arabia, as a banking inspector in the inspection department. SAMA essentially operates in the country as a reserve bank, whereby its responsibilities involve monitoring banks and other relevant banking tasks in the region.
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The inspection department has five teams, and each has a different banking operation. In the first three years, I worked with the banking complaints team, which comprised 12 members.
Our functions involved receiving complaints from commercial banks’ customers who had issues with their banks and could not find a way to solve them at their local banks.
So, those clients raised their cases against their banks to SAMA. The banking complaints team took upon itself to investigate these cases and ensure that the bank was complying with SAMA rules.
The department has a strategy of interchanging members of teams every three years. The manager of the department individually decides to make the exchange between the teams’ members. Consequently, the decision affects all the teams as they need new members to fill the gaps.
I was transferred to the anti-money laundering team, the role of which was to collaborate with government agencies in the communities of anti-money laundering. The team also coordinated with monastery of interior to investigate suspicious people accounts and transactions.
This team had more complex and difficult tasks than my previous team. Its members needed to deal with covert and significant issues. All the team members were law professionals and had a long experience in the team tasks, while I had a bachelor degree in accounting with only 3 years of experience.
I realized the problem after I first moved to the anti-money laundering team. First, all the members were dissatisfied with the decision of members’ exchange. They felt that the department manager should have consulted with them before trading off members.
Secondly, the complexity of the team duties required the members to have had long experience and high quality education in law with adequate knowledge of government regulation. My incompetency in law served as a barrier that made it hard to complete my tasks within the required time frame.
Consequently, I had to regularly request for assistance from the other team members, which required them to leave their tasks in order to help me.
Before the team members’ exchange, the anti-money laundering team used to work out all the issues within a week, and they were able to have more spare time. However, after the exchange, they were required to work for 6 days a week with 2 hours overtime.
After a month, new behaviors began to develop. Team members started passing cases to each other in order to avoid heavy work load. Nevertheless, the members were still reluctant about assisting me when I needed their counsel.
Cohen and Bailey (1997, p. 239) define a team as a collection of individuals who are interdependent in their tasks and share the responsibility of outcomes. As shown in the setting of SAMA, teams or groups existed as intact social entities that were the parts of a larger social system, namely, the department and the organization.
The effectiveness of a team is dependent on various factors including design, group processes, psychosocial factors and the environment. Design factors involve the aspects manipulated by managers, such as the reshuffling of team members after every three years in the inspection department.
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Group processes look into the interaction between members, as portrayed through communication and conflicts. Psychosocial factors refer to the shared beliefs, such as norms and cohesion, while the environment is defined as the organizational setting.
Figure 1 shows a heuristic model of group effectiveness.
Figure 1: A heuristic model of group effectiveness
Work groups are based on the involvement of all the workers in the team work to ensure improved organizational performance (Jackson 1992, p. 356).
Arguments against this statement suggest that the involvement of individuals in group activities is aimed at improving satisfaction as opposed to work performance (Liang, Moreland, & Argote 1995, p. 385).
However, most of the studies conducted on group effectiveness show that there is a positive correlation between participation and performance (Cohen & Bailey 1997, p. 246).
Human behavior in organizations
Individual and group behaviors involve the management of various organizational variables in order to boost organizational performance. Some of these variables touch people, technology, processes, structure and environment.
Organizational functions are divided into input and output variables, which are further classified into individual and team functions and the organizational environment where the team performs its duties (Lipshitz & Strauss 1997, p. 151). These variables are indicated in figure 2 below.
Figure 2: organizational functions
Personality of individuals
The personality of the member has significant influence on his/her behavior, which in turn impacts the overall performance of the team.
According to Robbins (2011), the model big five personalities, which are extraversion, agreeableness, conscientious, emotional stability and openness to experience, impact the teamwork directly through its members.
The behavior of an individual is influenced by his/her attitude towards the work, team members and the organization as a whole. An individual’s attitude defines his/her character and state of mind (Lipshitz & Strauss 1997). One’s attitude can be influenced by many variables including the level of job satisfaction.
This is influenced by the nature of work, pay, supervision, co-workers and working condition.
The transfer from a team where my capabilities had been valued to another one where my skills could not compete with those of my co-workers resulted in numerous challenges in the position. My challenges were translated onto my co-workers, which affected our working relationship.
Openness of the team
According to Lipshitz & Strauss (1997), a higher level of conscientiousness and openness to experience new tasks leads to better team performance. The behavior of the team is a component of effective team functioning and empowerment (Kirkman & Rosen, 2000).
Prior to the interchange, the inter-money laundering team worked effectively. Their roles were clear, the team was inspired, all the members were competent and showed collaboration in their work. However, these features faded with my entry into the group.
It was evident that my skills did not enhance congruence between the team members, which caused inefficiencies in our duties. According to Lester, Meglino, & Korsgaard (2002), team functioning entails three elements: cohesion, confrontation and collaboration.
The other component of good team organizational behavior is team empowerment, which looks at autonomy, provision of resources, accountability of goals, and clarity of roles (Lester, Meglino, & Korsgaard, 2002).
Human behavior in the organization can also be influenced at the organizational level. According to Robbins, Millet, Boyle, & Judge (2010, p. 284), the organization has a responsibility to bring together a successful work team by assigning roles to employees based on their skills.
Guzzo & Dickson (1996) suggest that this is influenced by various factors including work specialization, division of labor, decentralization and impersonality of the managers.
Proper human behavior is dependent on the clear definition of team objectives and matching of employee skill to job requirements. It is also necessary for organizations to have a clear chain of commands that would define the span of control (Guzzo & Dickson, 1996).
There are four factors that affect team performance including adequate resources, effective leadership, ability to trust, and performance evaluation and rewarded (Robbins, Millet, Boyle, & Judge 2010).
According to Robbins et al. (2010), the ability of a team is decreased by scarcity of resources, which has a direct impact on the effectiveness of the performance.
Robbins et al. (2010) also point out that the most crucial determinant of group performance is the availability of organizational support to the team. The support can be in the form of information, equipment, adequate members, reinforcement and administration (Robbins, Millet, Boyle, & Judge, 2010).
According to the study by Hamilton, Nickerson, & Owan (2003) on the worker heterogeneity, teamwork is the most effective when the level of access to resources is supported by the organization.
In support of this argument, Escriba-Moreno, Canet-Giner & Moreno-Luzón (2008, p. 46) suggest that members of a team need to trust each other in order to eliminate the need of monitoring each other’s work.
The inefficiencies in my anti-money laundering team were due to the lack of a vital resource in one of the new group members. The fact that I had inadequate skills and knowledge to effectively assume the role of the previous team member resulted in trust issues in the group.
The other members of the anti-money laundering team felt that I was incapable of making sufficient contributions to the team’s workload, which resulted in being sidelined in their efforts.
The requirement of the team to work for longer hours due to deficiencies of their team members, with no reward for the extra effort, means that their satisfaction in the work will reduce. Consequently, they will be unable to maintain the same level of productivity.
Role of teams in increasing organizational efficiency
Robbins et al. (2010, p. 276) suggest that teams are formed by organizations that acknowledge their employees’ talents. The teams allow for more flexibility and responsiveness of employees within the organization.
This is because groups bring together various individuals with similar abilities, skills and knowledge that boost their overall performance, especially when handling complex tasks (Robbins 2010).
According to Escriba-Moreno, Canet-Giner & Moreno-Luzón (2008, p. 51), an effective team comprises various skills including technical expertise, decision making, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills.
If the team lacks one or more of the necessary skills, then one of the team members should be trained and acquire that knowhow (Escriba-Moreno, Canet-Giner & Moreno-Luzón 2008, p. 52).
Robbins et al. (2010) also suggest that leadership and structure are key to the success of a team. This helps ensure that members are able to assign various groups tasks to the most skilled individual in the group, without exerting pressure on any single member.
Different teams have different workloads, and this should be taken into consideration, when shuffling team members in the organization.
The inspections department manager neglected this aspect in exchanging the employees in the department groups. This resulted in negative effects on the anti-money laundering department since the workload of the removed member could not be easily performed by the new team member.
While the manager may have been focused on diversifying the roles of the employees and building their capacity in handling different tasks, the intentions of the exchange should have been made clear to the employees, in order to avoid inter-team competition, and enhance team cohesion.
According to Kirkman & Rosen (2000), there are numerous benefits gained from work teams in organizations including better outcomes due to improved performance and enhanced organizational responsiveness.
These improvements are brought about by the positive impact of teams on employees’ attitudes, which boost both their morale and job satisfaction. However, Lipshitz & Strauss (1997) suggest that the findings are inconclusive, and the results of team work can be negative if there is little autonomy.
Poor team performance is also evident in cases where the work schedules are straining, and where the employee-management relations are poor.
This implies that teams are capable of enhancing both work performance and attitudes if the right elements are brought together. With this in mind, it is possible to come up with workable solutions to team inefficiencies in the inspection department of SAMA.
To begin with, the exchange of team members without consulting the existing team members reduces the employee morale since the team members should know the skills required to make the operations more efficient.
Consequently, the department leader should consider group decision technique, when choosing the members to be transferred from one group to another.
Robbins, Millet, Boyle, & Judge (2010) suggest that such group decisions can be conducted in interacting with groups, whereby all the team members in the department sit around a table and communicate through variable and non-variable interactions (Robbins 2010, p. 262).
The other challenge in the anti-money banking team involved overworking of some members due to my incompetency in the relevant field. Robbins et al. (2010, p. 262) suggest that employees can use the group-brainstorming technique to generate ideas on any issue, since one idea can stimulate others.
This technique can be used to address the issue of balancing the workload involved in anti-money laundering between the team members.
The core of the problems in the inspection department can be solved by team-decision making. Individual thinking by the department manager resulted in inefficiencies in the anti-money laundering team since the individual skills of the members did not promote cohesion in the group.
Hence, the involvement of employees in exchanging the team members in department groups can help in the formation of appropriate groups.
In addition to this, the team members should acknowledge and appreciate the skills of individual members in the group. Teams should encourage new members to be active participants of the group, and support them in adjusting to the new requirements.
Robbins et al (2010) suggest that this can be achieved by altering the performance evaluation system from focusing on individual performance to evaluating the team performance.
According to Mason & Griffin (2003), team members should be able to trust their counterparts regarding their skill. This is achieved by matching the right people with the right jobs, based on their knowledge, in order to avoid conflicts that reduce work performance.
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