The goal of our project is to work differently and approach challenges in a way that you probably viewed impossible at first. Despite the limits in time and the desired cost-effectiveness that can seem like a crucial problem, it is your responsibility to understand how the goal can be achieved. The word “you” applies not to an individual but the whole team; teamwork is essential in the JASSM Program, as well as your autonomy and the ability to make choices and meet decisions independently.
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As you are a team of professionals experienced in working together, I was a project leader who trusts your ability to meet all the goals we have at the right time. Share feedback, ask for help, discuss, prove your point, check and recheck data, do everything you can (or you thought you could not), and see how the project begins to take its shape.
Terry Little took several actions that fostered higher levels of performance. His attention to the recruitment of professionals in the team and the realization that sharp analytics were not going to make the work on the project more efficient resulted in a team that relied on members’ actions rather than calculations. Since Terry increased the degree of independence in the project, he managed to create a new organizational culture that valued autonomy, the ability to experiment, and innovation (Laufer, 2012).
His decision not to punish or control the team more severely after the failure during the first launch helped the team understand that he trusted them, thus increasing their motivation and self-belief. At last, his focus on results and desire to challenge the team to do the impossible was the factors that encouraged the team to complete the project before the set deadline.
A new course of action that I would suggest would provide the team with the understanding that failure is not punishable and even supported, especially if it is caused by an experiment necessary for the project completion. I would also emphasize the importance of the common goal, which would help me increase intrinsic motivation “to indicate the group’s collective belief that the whole group works for the group task rather than the extrinsic rewards” (Yidong & Xinxin, 2013, p. 442).
Furthermore, I would also explicitly state that accountability for one’s decisions is an important aspect of the project that is highly valued by me and will be implemented to see whether team members are capable of defending their opinion and decisions. I would establish several scheduled meetings that would be only dedicated to the decisions made by the team, and the meetings would align with specific project milestones, i.e. prototyping, first test, first launch, etc. At last, I would encourage team members to share their views of the project’s goals to see whether it is understood correctly or not because a unified view of the goal is one of the major factors that influence the project development.
Fallacies, Consistencies, and Inconsistencies
One of the fallacies that Terry overlooked at first was his misunderstanding of how the team perceived him. One of the members recalls a story when Terry fired a team member because he did not understand his personality by asking what numbers Terry wanted to see instead of defending his position (Laufer, 2012). As such, Terry fired a person only because the employee did not understand what Terry had wanted from him. I believe this is an example of bad leadership where a leader is incapable of explaining his approach to the team explicitly. Still, as soon as other team members understood it, they learned to defend their position and became more autonomous and reliable.
Terry’s inconsistency in treating women as equal partners is also discussed in the case study. It seems dubious that the project leader fired one professional due to his inability to understand Terry’s approach to work but allowed another member to be absent during crucial project stages simply due to her gender. Terry’s behavior with the female member of the team is an example of benevolent sexism, which undermines the trust of female employees to the project leader.
Second, Terry’s aggressive approach at first could jeopardize professionals’ motivation to work on the project. His remark that those who would not be able to work within the time frame given could be fired indicates that Terry decided to frighten his future team at first without explaining how they were going to do it. If followers are afraid of the leader, the leader likely walks the thin line between democratic and authoritarian leadership. However, this tactic helped the team focus on the goal and work further even though the goal seemed impossible at first.
As a project leader, I would fire the absent member of the team if the absence were making the work too ineffective. The work of other team members should not have been diminished by the absence of one, with no regard to their gender. As Yang and Aldrich (2014) point out, gender stereotypes interfere with women’s abilities to acquire power positions or actively participate in a team as an equal member. Terry showed that he did not view women as equal members that were expected to provide as much output as their male colleagues.
Task determination and prioritization
It is essential to understand what tasks have to be completed at first and what can be approached later; prioritization of tasks will indicate what goals are more important for the team and the project. For example, the team has to evaluate whether any stress tests are necessary and when they will be performed, e.g. when the prototype is ready or during the first launch.
Improving productivity is easier said than done. However, Pasale and Bagi (2013) suggest using the strategy of 5S: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. The strategy can help team members sort the goals by determining which goals are necessary and which can be given up, then set their workplace in order, check whether nothing from the environment interferes with the working process, then standardize and sustain the strategy.
Empowering the employees can result in better commitment and motivation. Coaching can be used as a tool for empowerment, where employees will learn from the project leader about the lessons and experiences they can use during their work (Morgan, 2013).
Additional training of employees can improve the project’s outcomes. Lessons in team building, cooperation, and effective communication will teach team members how to work on problem-solving together and avoid conflicts.
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Identify toxic team members
Toxic employees can endanger the effectiveness of teamwork, undermining the progress done by employees. Any signs of toxic behavior such as bullying, humiliation, dehumanization, etc. have to be addressed by project leader at once (Lutgen-Sandvik & Arsht, 2014). Toxic employees might need additional training if possible.
Make performance transparent
Employees need to know whether the company’s performance is becoming better or worse and how they influence it. Monthly meetings or newsletters that will provide employees with statistics and other data about organizational performance can encourage them to review their working process.
Laufer, A. (2012). Mastering the leadership role in project management. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press. Web.
Lutgen-Sandvik, A., & Arsht, S. (2014). How unaddressed bullying affects employees, workgroups, workforces, and organizations: The widespread aversive effects of toxic communication climates. Bullying in the Workplace, 1(4), 51-68. Web.
Morgan, G. (2013). Riding the waves of change. Toronto, Canada: Imaginization Inc. Web.
Pasale, R. A., & Bagi, J. S. (2013). 5S strategy for productivity improvement: A case study. Indian Journal of Research, 2(3), 151-153. Web.
Yang, T., & Aldrich, H. E. (2014). Who’s the boss? Explaining gender inequality in entrepreneurial teams. American Sociological Review, 79(2), 303-327. Web.
Yidong, T., & Xinxin, L. (2013). How ethical leadership influence employees’ innovative work behavior: A perspective of intrinsic motivation. Journal of Business Ethics, 116(2), 441-455. Web.