Leading and Managing People How to build the right teams
1. BMBA 708 ASSESSMENT W149303021
Leading and Managing People
How to build the right teams
2. BMBA 708 ASSESSMENT W149303021
1. Assignment Aims page 3
2. What does Team mean and what are the differences with a group page 4
3. What do you need to consider to set up a team page 5
4. The importance of the roles and leadership page 6
5. Are teams always successful? page 8
6. When you achieve a goal but miss the big picture page 9
7. Conclusions page 11
References page 12
Appendix 1 page 14
Appendix 2 page 15
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1. Assignment Aims
People are our biggest asset or our only source of competitive advantage, it is the classic
In 1996, Harvard Business School professor John Kotter claimed that nearly 70 percent of
large-scale change programs don’t achieve their goals, a lot of surveys since have shown
What are in common these statements?
In this essay I will analyse methods used to improve people’s productivity in the work place
and focus on the importance of teams in achieving the firms’ goals.
I will ground the theoretical research with my personal experience.
I need to start to define what does ‘team’ mean, in particular, what are the key differences
between teams and groups.
It is important to determine a golden rule to set up a team in relation to a specific project and
I will focus on the importance of the team member's roles and how different leadership
approaches are key to achieving the goal.
I want to illustrate why and when, generally, teams fail, in order to avoid these situations. I
will draw on my personal experience as the team leader for an Enterprise Resource
Planning (ERP) implementation. My team achieved the goal in time, but we missed a bigger
opportunity for the firm.
My intention is to explain how useful it is for a firm to set up a team for specific tasks and
what are the most important aspects to consider in order to produce the right combination of
people for the project.
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2. What does Team mean and what are the differences with
A team is a group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common aim,
set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually
The words complementary and common are essentials to the concept of a team.
A team is more than the sum of its parts. The essence of a team is common commitment,
without it, groups perform as individuals (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993, see appendix 1).
Teams differ fundamentally from working groups because they require both individual and
A working group’s performance is a function of what its members do as individuals.
A team’s performance is a collective work-product.
The focus of the working group is always on individual goals and accountabilities. Their
members don’t take responsibility for results other than their own.
An effective team is often characterized by productive output, personal satisfaction and an
increased capacity of members to adapt and learn (Sundstrom, DeMeuse, & Futrell, 1990).
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3. What do you need to consider to set up a team
Top level management needs to provide vision, strategy and resources to enable
successful team-working. There are some principles and concepts which will help a team to
1. Resources: provide the team with the resources it needs, including dedicated time
for team building and other activities
2. Communication: establish communications mechanisms, not just within the team
but also between the team and the rest of the organization
3. Expertise: obtain the expertise which it needs, through training or through contacting
the appropriate specialists
4. Boundaries: clearly defined boundaries which are set and not organically developed
5. Support: support from the higher level of the organization
6. Respect: people understand the difference between real respect and lip-service and
they will respond appropriately.
When these principles are established the next step is to choose the right people to put in.
J. Adair (1986) thinks that team’s members should have the following competences:
Technical or professional competences
Ability to work as a team member
Desirable personal attributes.
The first requirement for a member is to possess the specialist skills necessary for the team.
Then, the selection process should discover the most motivated to achieve the team’s goals,
not his or her individual targets. As consensus in groups can be fragile, it is necessary to
always be careful not to introduce a disruptive personality on board. The concept of balance
and the image of an orchestra can illustrate how a team works.
The last but certainly not the least attribute for members are their soft skills. The ability to
listen to the other members, to build something based on others members’ contributions and
to have a flexibility of mind.
In my experience, of more than 20 years, I always saw team members chosen for their
technical or professional competences. Often, despite their lack of the other two attributes.
The point was, we knew that he was not a good team member because he preferred working
alone, we knew that he did not care about other point of views, and so on, but it was
necessary for the success of the team.
Hence, the rest of the team's members have to collaborate with him, whereas he does not
have to do it.
The result is additional pressure on the rest of the team.
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4. The importance of the roles and the leadership
According to R.M. Belbin (2000), to build the best team, you need to mix different types of
people, and he identified nine roles (see appendix 2). In summary they are:
1. Coordinator clarify goals and promotes decision makings, good communicator and
2. Plant intelligent and imaginative, but careless of details
3. Shaper dynamic and task minded, he might be impatient and intolerant
4. Monitor-evaluator critical and analytical but less imaginative
5. Resource investigators extrovert and relaxed, less original
6. Team worker focus on process and sensitive, he might be indecisive and keen to
7. Implementer turn ideas into manageable tasks, he could be inflexible
8. Completer-finisher focus on details and deadlines
9. Specialist provide rare skills and expertise, but he is not a good communicator.
Belbin also assumes that these teams can be sub divided into 3 major groups:
1. Action Oriented, (Shaper, Implementer and Completer-Finisher)
2. People Oriented (Co-ordinator, Team-worker and Resource Investigator)
3. Cerebral Oriented (Plant, Monitor-evaluator and Specialist).
He recommends a team of six people maximum as some of the roles listed above can be
merged. He argues that if a team goes beyond this number, it becomes a group and not a
Yet, it is arguable that the Roman army has been the longest surviving organisation based
on power that the world has ever known. That army was arranged in multiple tiers with the
person in charge at each level having 10 people reporting directly to him.
And according to O. Obagun (2009), 30% of people tested in his research did not fall into
any of the 9 categories. Strength in a team role is often at the price of what might be
considered a weakness in another context.
I think that a project manager must know what roles are over represented or absent in the
team and understand an individual’s secondary role. With experience, team roles will
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For E. Geller and G.A. Yukl to effectively manage teams, two different leadership styles are
required - transformational and participative:
Transformational leadership: able to give direction by inspiring employees and
articulating a clear vision of the future. They have a strong motivational effect on each
Participative leadership: share responsibility with the team to such an extent that
the team members can lead themselves.
B. M. Bass (1990) found other leadership qualities, he says that the most effective leader
combines a sense of trust in subordinates (defined relations-oriented) with a strong concern
for group goals (called task-oriented).
In my experience, the team leader has to be transformational first of all, then he can use
different types of leadership approaches in relation to the different types of tasks, people and
I have gained a lot of experience in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and when my firm
needed to set up a team it was always for a transformational type project.
In these situations it was necessary for an individual to fulfil different roles and try to find the
remaining roles from limited staff availability.
I noticed that the more technical the goal is to be achieved by the project, the easier it is to
find the right roles and to achieve the goal.
This is the case, even if the team is totally in one country or also drawn from foreign
So firms prefer to set up different small teams instead of only one big group because they
want to build more technical and homogenous teams rather than something more complex.
They define different tasks that together represents one large project.
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5. Are teams always successful?
In 2006, in The Wall Street Journal, the management guru Gary Hamel credited the success
of Internet giant Google to small self-managed teams taking responsibility for future products
German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon AG recently decided to concentrate strategic
decision making in a team of four top managers who will jointly lead the company
Applebaum and Batt published in 1994 a review of 12 large scale surveys and 185 case
studies of managerial practices. The authors concluded that team-based working leads to
improvements in organizational performance on measures of both efficiency and quality.
Cotton’s (1993) review reported 57 case studies that showed improvements on productivity
following the implementation of self-directed teams.
In a recent qualitative review of 31 survey-based, quantitative studies linking teamwork to
different indicators of organizational performance, Delarue (2008) concluded that teamwork
has a positive impact on four different dimensions of performance outcomes (operational,
financial, attitudinal and behavioural outcomes).
On the other hand, as I mentioned before, in 1996 J. Kotter claimed that nearly 70 percent of
large-scale change programs did not meet their goals.
Hence, it is clear that teams can reach important results but this cannot be taken for granted,
you need to be careful because building a team does not mean reaching a goal.
R.M. Belbin in 2010 wrote that the most frequent reasons for an unsuccessful team are:
a negative selection of the candidates;
another aspect is the personality of the members;
the presence of team members with no team role;
a poor allocation of manpower resources within the team.
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6. When you achieve a goal but miss the big picture
I describe my individual experience in bullet points:
I was the team leader for an implementation of a new ERP in a medium sized firm
The board of directors was not totally committed to this project, 2 out of 5 members
thought it was not the right choice
The board decided which supplier and product were the best for the firm, and how and
when to implement it. Everything was established without sharing these decisions with
anyone in the firm
When I met the supplier’s Project Manager, at the first meeting, he had already designed
the solution to use for us. He had already planned the meetings and almost defined all
steps that we would follow for the next 6 months. Everything was already agreed with the
The only thing that we decided together was the team’s members
We chose the members based on a single criteria: he or she, had to know how the firm
managed processes (so, technical or professional competence)
During the process of the implementation, we had to change the team’s members for
different reasons on several occasions: resignations, redundancies, resourcing issues,
The project team members and the wider staff base never accepted nor understood why
the change was necessary
Many people, including some team members, thought that until the new system was
introduced, that at the end of the process, when the Board realized that the project was a
mistake, they would revert to the old system
Eventually, we set up the new ERP meeting the deadline
There were post go live issues including poor staff adoption of the new system, as a
consequence of not recognising the need for the change in the first place
We spent many additional training hours post go live to help people to learn the new
system and realized that the original solution needed some additional changes because
the people who started using the new ERP discovered flaws. This resulted in additional
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In summary, we achieved our goal: to implement a new ERP in line with the project plan,
however it is clear that the project was not a success overall. Rather, it was a missed
The project team, including myself, missed the possibility to engage with the staff. It could be
a step to help the firm to improve its productivity and to learn, all together, a new advanced
The Board should not have undertaken a significant project without a strong internal
commitment, but said that, I will focus on areas where I should act differently.
The main aim of this assignment is also to identify what I should have done in my role as
Project Manager to better manage this important change?
1. I should have spoken with the Board, pushing them to find a solution which was agreed
by all of them.
2. I should have explained to all staff, the drivers of the change – why a new system was
required, the benefits it would bring and the analysis that had gone to choosing the right
3. Allow time for staff to react to the idea of change, answer their questions and work to gain
their trust and commitment.
4. I should have insisted with the supplier’s Project Manager to organize an open meeting to
build commitment with the staff for planning together the steps to follow for the
5. I absolutely should have been more focused on balancing the soft skilled people with the
more technical staff because the latter were less able to contribute successfully to team
Had I acted as outlined above, I believe that staff would have recognised the importance of
the project to the company and some of them would have asked to be more involved in the
process, they would feel more responsible for the success, or the failure, of the project.
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In this final chapter I will summary what I realized putting together the theories that I have
studied and my professional experience. I learnt that I need to work approaching problems
using different perspectives, trying to find more than one solution, not only the fastest or the
easiest. I need to use my critical thinking and push my colleagues to do the same in order to
improve, together, our productivity.
The motivation of employees is a crucial issue for managers and how to improve it
represents a huge problem.
The goal of organisation remains the same: to maximize productivity in order to
The only way to motivate the employee is to give him challenging work he can assume
responsibility (F. Herzberg 1968)
Transformational change cannot be sustained without genuine commitment on the part
of those who will be most affected.
Change comes naturally when individuals have a platform that allows them to identify
shared interests and to brainstorm solutions.
If culture that must be changed, the process must start with top management’s rethinking
of its current values and deciding be guided by other orientations (T.H. Fitzgerald 1988).
A team can be the best way to achieve the firm’s goals, although it needs to be carefully
considered and managed properly otherwise it could lead to a waste of resources (time,
The new order would be negotiated, participative, flat, self-regulating, and aligned to the
purpose of its members.
A successful firm needs all staff to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for its
success, everybody should feel a part of it.
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